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Life for new and expectant parents is tougher than ever before warns Family Action, a leading charity providing services to disadvantaged and socially isolated families. The charity is concerned that welfare cuts and poor quality housing will impact on family life and they have released a report stressing their concerns.
Family Action’s Against All Odds: Mind the Gap report highlights the issues facing mothers and children if adequate welfare support and services are not available. The report stresses “early intervention must mean intervening before at risk babies are born, and providing services which support vulnerable mothers emotionally and with parenting as well as financial support.”
Family Action works with some of the most vulnerable and disadvantaged families in England including mothers at risk of depression before or after the birth of their baby (perinatal depression). The perinatal support service is offered in four locations across England including inner city Hackney, West Mansfield in Nottinghamshire, rural Swaffham in Norfolk and Oxford.
Family Action chief executive Helen Dent said: “The early intervention gap we’ve identified needs to be filled so that vulnerable mothers and babies don’t fall through the system. We know from our work with vulnerable and disadvantaged mums using our Perinatal service how vital support is at the earliest stages in mother-baby bonding and child development.
“Failure to have the best support in place could lead to a life of troubles for parents and children and set back the Government’s goal of dealing with “Troubled” families. New parents are also in the firing line as welfare changes and cuts to support hit their ability to provide for their children.
“Cash counts for the most vulnerable families and slashing the welfare bill at children’s expense could be disastrous for their futures. Our Against All Odds campaign calls for more support and services for women at risk of perinatal depression and we want to see clear action from Government to protect this group to safeguard their future.”
To coincide with the new report, Family Action has launched the next stage of their Against All Odds campaign, calling for more low cost, holistic services that combine emotional support with practical advocacy, as well as action from government to improve and protect welfare support.
Commenting on Nick Clegg’s speech on social mobility, Family Action chief executive, Helen Dent said: "Whilst we welcome the extra support and focus the pupil premium hopes to deliver for some of the most disadvantaged young people in school, these measures will fail to bridge the social mobility gap unless action is taken to improve genuine early intervention services in the early years.
“Our Mind the Gap report, out tomorrow, highlights the vital need to support vulnerable mothers during pregnancy and in the first year after a child's birth if we're to improve children's futures and close the early intervention gap. If the Deputy Prime Minister wants to make a real and lasting impression on the life chances of disadvantaged families, he'll now shift his focus to the perinatal period in line with what Graham Allen and Frank Field have recommended in their Government Reviews."