Solace Peer Support (CIC) is a community based peer support programme, supporting women with experiences of social marginalisation on their journey through pregnancy, birth and the initial postnatal period. The provision of peer support has the potential to transform the life trajectories of the most marginalised women and their families, from pregnancy onwards.

Background

The development of Solace Peer Support has centred on providing support to women with complex circumstances and personal histories. Isolation is an experience that features predominantly in the narratives of women with experiences of social marginalisation; ‘having someone there,’ on their journey can make such a difference.
This concept is discussed in the concluding scenes of the Winston Churchill Memorial Trust (WCMT) Fellowship report, ‘Take Her Hand; Exploring the Effects of Peer-Based Support for Socially Marginalised Pregnant Women.’ (See Research Section) The insights from this fellowship have shaped the development of Solace Peer Support.
The development of Solace Peer Support has also been supported by the Lloyds Bank School of Social Entrepreneurs and Big Lottery, in partnership with Action Hampshire.

Aims and Objectives

Solace Peer Support aims to provide peer support for women with experiences of social marginalisation from the 24th week of pregnancy, until the 12 weeks after their baby is born. The aim of the service is to provide the earliest stage, early intervention support; reducing the need for crisis social service and crisis mental health interventions. This will be achieved through the following objectives:-

  • promoting maternal/infant wellbeing,
  • supporting maternal/infant attachment
  • promoting maternal self-efficacy and empowerment.

Support during pregnancy and the postnatal period will focus on emotional and practical support; additionally promoting access to both statutory and community based support services. It is essential that the peer support role promotes engagement with health and social care services, and collaborates with health/social care professionals.

‘Peer Support is not about challenging health/social care provision; it is about challenging the isolation experienced by the most marginalised women during pregnancy, birth and the initial postnatal period.’

The groups of women who most frequently give birth without birth partners are women with experiences of being in care, domestic violence, human trafficking and seeking asylum. The personal stories of these women often involve recurrent experiences of abuse, trauma and isolation. Yet their journey through pregnancy, birth and the postnatal period is often alone, in the context of their personal support networks; this trajectory accentuating trauma, this recurrent journey needs to change.