Shantona: £30k funding for Leeds mummy help project

A new team of mummy-helpers is being recruited in deprived parts of the city where risks of infant mortality are highest.

Voluntary group Shantona has won 30,000 funding for the new project, which will build on work NHS Leeds is already doing to tackle baby deaths.

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The money will pay for training for outreach volunteers who, once trained, will help mothers from black and ethnic minority backgrounds to understand what services are available to them in the city, as well as helping them to make simple lifestyle changes.

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The aim is to help tackle issues around infant mortality. Research shows that one in 50 babies born in the more deprived areas of the city will die before their first birthday.

The figure is even higher among BME (black and minority ethnic) groups living in the poorer neighbourhoods in Leeds.

Volunteers will be trained in areas such as healthy living advice, for example smoking cessation; reducing levels of obesity; encouraging uptake of breastfeeding and improving access to maternity services and care.

The project has been awarded 30,000 from the Volunteering Fund.

Roxana Summers, Health Improvement Specialist (Vulnerable Groups) for NHS Leeds, said: "This project gives us a chance to improve the health outcomes for mothers and their babies.

"It would be fantastic if bilingual women from bme communities in Leeds took up the opportunity to become maternity outreach volunteers. Women from these community groups can then deliver key messages in a culturally sensitive way within their network of friends and social groups."

Preeti Tyagi, who is co-ordinating the new project for Shantona, added: "We are delighted that we have been awarded funding for this project by the Volunteering Fund and are pleased to be able to work with NHS Leeds. It is really important that we are able to encourage local women to come forward and take on this vital role. Everyone attending will pick up a certificate of attendance or a nationally recognised certificate. This could be an ideal stepping stone for those looking for a career in health and social care."

To register for the six-week training programme, contact Preeti Tyagi at Shantona on 0113 2497120 or email preeti@shantona.co.uk.

Free childcare will be provided during training.

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