The Princess of Wales paid a visit to Colham Manor Children’s Centre in Hillingdon today, where she met with mothers who have been supported by Home-Start Hillingdon, as part of an event hosted by the Maternal Mental Health Alliance to celebrate the life-changing impact that integrated, holistic care can have for families.

During her visit The Princess of Wales spent time talking to the mums who shared their experiences of how Home-Start Hillingdon has helped them. The support was part of a Perinatal Mental Health project run in partnership with Central and North West London NHS Trust.

The Princess of Wales receiving flowers from a mum supported by Home-Start

The Princess heard how the care provided in the borough of Hillingdon exemplifies the benefits of working collaboratively, allowing specialist mental health services and third sector organisations to ensure that every point of a woman’s journey before, during and after pregnancy provides the opportunity to effectively support their mental health needs.

One mum who had the opportunity to speak to Her Royal Highness was Saiqa Ibrahim who is mum to two girls and three boys aged between 19 years and 11 months said “It was both surreal and incredible to meet The Princess. She sat next to me and asked me about my experiences and seemed really interested in what I had to say. I told her that I had some mental health issues after having my baby boy and how having support from Home-Start was brilliant. “It really helped me through a challenging time.”

Shanitta Campbell, who is also a mum of five, four girls aged between six and 16 and a baby boy of five months added, “It was nice to be able to share my experience and tell my story of how I got involved with Home-Start, and how far I’ve come since then. I have five children and I have never had this much support and help. Since Home-Start came into our lives, I never feel like I’m alone. The Princess was really easy to talk to and it was nice to chat to her as a mum herself.”

During the visit Clare Nazerali, Director of Home-Start Hillingdon, was able to share with Her Royal Highness how the organisation works in partnership with other organisations in the borough, as part of its work to provide volunteer based home-visiting support to families facing a range of challenges.

Following the event, Clare said, “It was a pleasure to have The Princess of Wales come and see first-hand the collaborative work we do here in Hillingdon and the impact this has had on the community. We are far more than the sum of our parts by working together and recognising the whole journey for a woman. Home-Start’s role makes a huge difference in these women’s lives.”

Mums supported by Home-Start talking during visit of Princess of WalesHome-Start Hillingdon’s support includes a programme to support mothers and birthing parents with mild to moderate Perinatal Mental Health run in partnership with Central and North West London NHS Trust (CNWL). In 2021-22 they provided 3-6 months of support to nearly 100 families. 98% of families supported saw an overall improvement in their coping scores.

Home-Start Hillingdon’s close relationship with its local partners has created a strong and effective service for families. The service is embedded within the local community, creating trusted support for parents and referrers. The strength of Home-Starts' support is based on working along-side parents, in their own home, which builds trust with parents, but also allows support to be provided to those who may struggle to access services.

The visit was hosted by the Maternal Mental Health Alliance, a charity and network of 120 organisations, including Home-Start, which is dedicated to ensuring all women, babies, and families in the UK affected by perinatal mental health problems have access to high-quality support and compassionate care.

Home-Start Hillingdon is one of 180 local Home-Starts which are each independent local charities, reliant on local funding. Home-Start Hillingdon is now looking to expand its services, however it does not currently have the capacity to support any more families. At the same time local services have identified 717 children under 5 in Hillingdon that are currently in a support bracket suggesting their families would potentially benefit from our support.

The Perinatal Mental Health Peer Support Pilot was launched in 2020 in partnership with the Central North-West London (CNWL) NHS Foundation Trust to provide volunteer support to mothers/birthing parents with mild to moderate perinatal mental health (PMH) needs across five London boroughs.  The Home-Starts delivering support were Home-Start Hillingdon; Home-Start Barnet, Brent, Enfield & Harrow who delivered support in Brent & Harrow; and Home-Start Westminster, Kensington and Chelsea, Hammersmith and Fulham, who supported families in Westminster and Kensington & Chelsea.  

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