The excellent support given to children and parents across North Somerset has been recognised once again, with North Somerset Council and Sirona care & health’s Children’s Centres and Health Visiting services receiving a prestigious award for the third time.
The UNICEF (United Nations Children’s Fund) UK Baby Friendly Initiative Gold Award celebrates excellent and sustained practice in the support of infant feeding and parent-infant relationships. The gold award is the highest standard for services which are accredited as Baby Friendly by UNICEF UK.
North Somerset Council and Sirona care & health have achieved revalidation of the award for their Children’s Centres and Health Visiting services for the second year running.
Having been awarded gold status in 2020, the services go through a validation process each year. They have to submit a portfolio of evidence to make sure the services are maintaining their excellent standards.
In their report for this year, the assessors said they were ‘delighted to see the quality of work that is being implemented by the service and the positive outcomes being achieved as a result.’
Cllr Mike Bell, Deputy Leader of North Somerset Council and executive member for public health said: “Congratulations and thank you to all our colleagues and volunteers in our children’s centres, health visiting, midwifery and public health. Achieving Gold status for the third year in a row reflects the hard work and commitment we all share to making sure children in North Somerset have the best possible start to life.
“A key part of this success is the local mums who volunteer as peer supporters. They put in countless hours of care and support, helping other mums to start and breastfeed for longer. The work they do is inspirational and shows how great changes are possible through strong communities.”
"I’m absolutely delighted by this news, it's well-deserved recognition " said Cllr Catherine Gibbons, executive member for children’s services, who underlined that: “We want to create good health and wellbeing throughout life by preventing problems or offering help as early as possible. We know breastfeeding has long-term health benefits for children, including protection against a range of illnesses including gastroenteritis and respiratory infections in infancy as well as asthma, cardiovascular disease and diabetes in later life.
“Breastfeeding also reduces the risk of some cancers for mums, significantly develops the bond between mother and baby and is the cheapest and most convenient way to give a baby the nutrition it needs. But whichever way a North Somerset mother chooses to feed her baby, she can be sure that she’ll be supported by our services to form a strong loving relationship with her newborn.”
Mary Lewis, Sirona care & health’s Director of Nursing, said: “To receive the UNICEF UK Baby Friendly Initiative Gold Award again is a fantastic achievement and it highlights the outstanding work and commitment of our health visitors and partners at North Somerset Council.
“This award celebrates excellent practice in infant feeding support and recognises the important work our health visitors, children’s centre staff, peer supporters and many others play in nurturing the development of parent-infant relationships.”
Nikki Lawrence, Head of Public Health Nursing at Sirona, said: “We are delighted North Somerset have once again had their UNICEF UK Baby Friendly Initiative Gold Award revalidated. It shows these services have the leadership, culture, and systems to maintain these high standards over the long term.
“We are very proud and grateful for the high level of hard work and commitment all staff and partners continue to invest to ensure families have the best possible support for infant feeding in the early years in North Somerset.
“This award will give local parents confidence they will continue to get evidence based, individualised and compassionate support with infant feeding and building positive parent-infant relationships.”
Information about infant feeding and local support groups is on the Better Health North Somerset website at https://www.betterhealthns.co.uk/healthy-families.
The photograph shows from left to right: Tamsyn Grant (Early Years Public Health Specialist for North Somerset Council), Nicky Stead (Family Wellbeing Locality Team Manger and Family Wellbeing Support Leader for North Somerset Council), Clare Watson (a peer supporter) and Stephanie with her daughter Maddison with the UNICEF UK BFI Gold Award certificate.