Perinatal Befriending: Unique, Supportive and Empowering

Aberlours’ Perinatal Mental Health Befriending Support Service is delivered across Forth Valley and East Lothian and offers women experiencing mental health difficulties emotional and practical support through pregnancy and during their baby’s first year.

The service meets the needs of women, babies, partners, siblings and extended family members through reducing social isolation and improving parent’s mental health and wellbeing, whilst supporting positive relationships between parents and their babies. The service adopts a person-centred approach, matching women with highly trained Perinatal Befrienders who meet regularly, working flexibly around women’s desired outcomes from their engagement with the service, promoting self-efficacy. The aims, objectives and the model of service delivery will be outlined in the session.

The session will highlight a range of evidence-based positive outcomes, using a range of methodologies, which have resulted from the positive, trusting relationships that have been built between families, Befrienders and Perinatal Co-ordinators.

Perinatal Befrienders have reported increased self-confidence and self-esteem as a result of their roles, which has positively impacted on their own lives including parenting and family situations, further education and career opportunities. 

A number of Befrienders whose journey began as service recipients have, following recovery, gone on to train as Perinatal Befrienders, becoming active members of Perinatal Mental Health Forums and sharing their own lived experiences as part of learning and sharing events.

Delegates will have the opportunity to hear from women with lived experience of the service, and from Perinatal Befrienders.

Through working in parallel with the service, clinical stakeholders have noted positive changes in the confidence and wellbeing of mothers, with a reduction in the need for more intensive services. It was felt that the service offers a valuable, effective early intervention, enabling women to be supported and connected within their own communities, diverting away from costly specialised NHS mental health services.

There will be a learning opportunity for delegates to deepen their knowledge of Perinatal Mental Health through a group learning exercise and a question and answer session.

Emma Cashmore-Gordon

Service Manager, Aberlour Child Care Trust

Emma joined Aberlours’ Perinatal Befriending service in September 2018 having worked for 25 years.

Angie Rennie

Perinatal Volunteer Co-ordinator, Aberlour Child Care Trust

Angie has worked with families for over 40 years with a background in maternity and sick children’s’ services.

Catherine Buchanan

Perinatal Volunteer Co-ordinator, Aberlour Child Care Trust

Catherine has worked with families for over 30 years.

Hazel Robertson

Aberlour Child Care Trust

Hazel’s journey with Aberlour began following the birth of her third child, having had a previous experience of perinatal mental health difficulties.