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Research suggests that peer support can help people feel happier, less isolated, 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 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 baby’s journey through neonatal care, and share tips and coping strategies. They can help to advise on practical elements, such as how to sort out your parking at the hospital, where to find tiny baby clothes, or which hand cream is the best for the sore and cracked hands caused by constant hand-washing.

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 rubbish day after having a few really good ones and are feeling low and deflated. Our peer supporters have had their own neonatal journey. They are there to help and support you when they can. It can feel lonely on the neonatal unit and our peer support volunteers will sit with you by your baby’s cotside for a chat, or meet you on the unit for a cup of tea and a chat.

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, safeguarding training and full peer support training. We do this to ensure families feel safe around the people who will be helping them at their most vulnerable time.

Find out how you can become a Spoons Peer Support VolunteerĀ 



Nesta & National Voices Research

Understanding the Impact of Peer Support May 2015