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Research suggests that peer support can help people feel less isolated, happier and more empowered. It can have a positive impact on long term mental health and wellbeing. It encourages people to talk about their thoughts and feelings and enables them to form relationships with those who have shared a similar experience.

Peer support can make a huge difference to families who spend time in neonatal care. Our peer support volunteers have all been parents of a baby in neonatal care and are able to empathise with your situation. Having someone to talk to can relieve stress and feelings of isolation for both mum and dad. It gives you the opportunity to talk openly to about your emotions and your worries and help you validate your feelings. Knowing that someone has felt exactly the same as you do right now can really help. Sometimes parents with a baby on the neonatal unit may feel that their friends and families don’t fully understand their fears and worries or the challenges of having a sick or premature baby in hospital, and they probably don’t, with the best will in the world, how could they?

You may not want too many people to visit your baby on the neonatal unit. You may be worried about the risk of your baby catching a cold or infection, you may be tired of having to explain the same thing to everyone that visits. The neonatal unit can feel like your bubble, and sometimes it isn’t easy to let other people into your bubble.

Peer Support

Our Peer Support volunteers play a valuable role in providing emotional support as well as practical advice. They can share their own experiences with you, talk about their babies journey through neonatal care, share tips and coping strategies. They can help to advise on practical elements, such as how to sort out your parking a the hospital, where can you find tiny baby clothes or what hand cream is the best for the sore and cracked hands caused by constant hand-washing.

You can donate to Spoons on our JustGiving Page.

You may want to share key milestones with someone who understands how amazing it feels to change your baby’s nappy for the first time on your own or pick up your baby without a nurse having to help. Maybe you have just had a tiring day after having a few really good ones and are feeling low and deflated, all our peer supporters have walked in your shoes and will help and support you when they can. You might be feeling isolated from life outside the unit and a little bit bored and want someone to sit with you by your baby’s cotside for a chat, or meet on the unit for a cup of tea.

We have a team of dedicated peer support volunteers who are available on the neonatal unit throughout the week, you will find details of this is the family sitting room, on the Facebook page or by speaking to your baby’s nurse.

All our volunteers have enhanced DBS checks and safeguarding training, we do this to ensure families feel safe around the people who will be helping them in their most vulnerable time.


Nesta & National Voices Research

Understanding the Impact of Peer Support May 2015