Getting to know NCT

It’s now been a month since I joined NCT as your new Chief Executive and it’s been a brilliant start so far. Thank you sincerely for such a warm welcome. I’m thoroughly enjoying getting out and about meeting practitioners, students, volunteers and staff. Hearing about the passion for our charity and the amazing work we do to support parents is truly inspiring. Not just today, but throughout our history.

I feel very lucky to have joined NCT just as we’re celebrating a very exciting victory for our #HiddenHalf mental health campaign as NHS England announces funding for dedicated postnatal check-ups for new mothers. We’ve been vigorously campaigning for this outcome for the past 2 years since NCT research showed nearly half of mothers’ postnatal mental health problems were not being picked up by healthcare professionals. So this response from NHS England is a huge step forward and means more new mothers will be supported to talk about their mental health and get the help they need. The campaign was driven by our movement of volunteers, practitioners, staff and members and around 14,000 people supported the campaign online. I got the opportunity to meet with the British Medical Association last week, alongside Vicky Fobel, Public Affairs and Campaigns Manager, and they shared just how collaborative and engaging NCT’s Campaigns Team have been in pushing for this outcome. A huge thanks to them, and to everyone in the movement for your support for this campaign.

As I’ve been getting out to meet our teams and see our work, I have been hugely impressed with the passion, professionalism, commitment, vision and sheer hard work being exerted all across the UK in the pursuit of supporting every parent in their first 1,000 days. I particularly want to thank NCT practitioners, Karen Hall and Katie Kelly who both invited me to join their workshops over recent weeks. Karen’s study day on breastfeeding facilitation skills was such a great, fun day. I learnt a lot about our reach across the country and it was great to see the skills exchange and sharing of practice that takes place on these days. With Katie, I got to join a special women-only session and again it was a terrific insight into the power of our knowledge sharing and network building. It was really lovely to share in the excitement and anticipation of the expectant mums at the session. Both Karen and Katie showed me just how much talent we have in our network. It was great to see this so early in my journey.

Angela at NCT Tutor and practitioner, Karen Hall’s Study Day on breastfeeding in Manchester

Last week I joined the first part of the Regional Practitioner Forum in London which gave me the opportunity to introduce myself to our practitioner community and hear more from practitioners about the outlook and challenges of our education work. Our guest speaker, Maria Booker, from Birthrights, was truly inspiring and from the feedback in the room, it seems she prompted some very powerful conversations on human rights and birth.

I’ve just finished reading “New Generations: 40 Years of Birth in Britain” which charts NCT’s first 40 years. From the initial advert in The Times in 1956, announcing the establishment of NCT, Joanna Moorhead’s book tells the story of our decades of success in campaigning. Since then, we have supported millions of women and parents through birth and early parenthood whilst also securing major advances in professional practice and public policy. In these early weeks, I’ve really enjoyed seeing how more than 60 years later we continue in our conviction that education and community can radically transform the experience of childbirth and early parenting.

Please do continue to invite me to see your local activities and projects. Later this week I’m spending the day in Reading with PSA Becky England and volunteers and families at my local branch. I can’t wait for the Mums & Monsters Club! And next week I’ll be visiting NCT services in Peterborough with our NCT President, Sherry Bevan. I look forward to meeting more of you soon and continuing to hear your amazing stories about how you’re helping parents to do their best every day.

To hear more about Angela’s personal and professional background which has led her to NCT, check out this video.

Bookending my NCT story

By Ann Carrington, Quality Manager

My first involvement with NCT was in 1987 when I booked to attend antenatal classes. And just as my first involvement was because of a baby my decision to leave is also because of a baby – this time my granddaughter – as I will looking after her three days a week when my daughter returns to work next year.

I’ve held many jobs and roles during my time with NCT. I volunteered as a postnatal supporter – and the woman I supported is one of my best friends some 30 years later. I’ve been treasurer to our local teachers’ group in pre-PSA days. I trained as an Antenatal teacher, became an Advanced Teacher (now known as an EP), an Assessor and then a tutor. I was a co-chair of Teachers’ Panel, an Assessor Co-ordinator for two stints and my last role has been as Quality Manager.

It’s been a tremendous experience and I have enjoyed being with parents, practitioners, students, senior practitioners, tutors and other staff members. There have been challenging moments – a couple of Assessor Update weekends spring to mind! But what really shines out for me about NCT is how good we are at collaborative working and the huge amount of support that is offered by peers and colleagues.

During my last few months, I have been involved with the One Antenatal project which feels like a fitting end to my NCT career. I’m the proud possessor of one of the Golden Guinea Pig awards – given to those of us who took part in the first cohort of the BA in Educational Studies. Over the years I’ve seen our training and courses change and adapt to meet the needs of parents. I particularly enjoyed my last few years of teaching when the parents were at the same stage of life as my daughter and son-in-law. Then watching my daughter and son-in-law as they embarked on their NCT journey was fascinating and gave me plenty to think about!

As well as many good friends, my time with NCT has given me so many valuable skills which I intend to continue to put to good use in the future. A local branch of a charity is looking for facilitators for a restorative justice programme…  As I wheel my granddaughter around Balham, I see other grandparents doing the same thing and I wonder about starting a grandparent and baby/toddler group…

The two photos form bookends to my life with NCT. The first is the family photo I included in the portfolio I submitted to Teachers’ Panel to qualify as an Antenatal teacher. The second is a photo of the first time I held my granddaughter.

Opening up the ways we learn

By Vicky Mariner, breastfeeding counsellor and member of ourNCTeducation practitioner reference group

A little over ten years ago, I completed my level 5 training as a breastfeeding counsellor. I loved the cosy tutorial groups and formed close friendships with my fellow trainees. Karen (our lovely tutor) had a box of books we could borrow in the corner. We had stimulating discussions, shared mini-presentations and were given plenty of paper handouts. 

Last year I completed a level 5 in Learning and Development with the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD). The revolution which has taken place over the last ten years in learning and training is astonishing. E-learning, m-learning, digital learning platforms, social learning, blended learning, LMS, CMS, MOOCS and a whole host of other confusing acronyms – it’s a brand new language! 

Foundations of human learning have not changed – our brains don’t actually work differently just because we are in the digital age. E-learning is not automatically more effective just because it is delivered by computer. I must admit my personal experience of e-learning through my day job as a corporate HR Manager has not been positive. When executed poorly it can be boring and ineffective. Many see it as simply a tick box exercise.

But the possibilities… are exciting!

Algorithms taking into account everything, from existing prior experience to how confidently or hesitantly you clicked on an answer, means that programmes can be tailored to each learner’s needs.

There are now so many options available for reading more on a particular topic which grabs your attention. A pop-up links you to the most up–to-date NICE guidelines. Or your own local statistics, an audio podcast, a YouTube video or TEDtalk, a webinar invite, or a discussion on a related forum. And that is before we get to the possibilities of virtual reality or augmented reality. Practice in front of a virtual “live” group of parents anyone? Or instead of a 2D picture of a pregnant woman’s body in a text, you hover your mobile over the page and you can see inside a womb projected right in front of you?

It’s a far cry from the “click > click > next” of the boring clunky e-learning.

Social learning is another huge shift. We know that often the most enjoyable part of a study day is the informal learning which goes on when we swap stories, tips and techniques. When done well this can work effectively digitally as well. Students can set up their own Moodles, Wiki’s and forums and even attend “virtual” coffee mornings. We know that nothing will ever beat the personal, face-to-face touch of really being with other people. We also know that the time and cost of travelling for training sometimes makes the whole endeavour prohibitively expensive. We don’t all live near London or Bristol after all!

As our training of practitioners evolves it is exciting to think how we can harness this new technology. Even via a computer, people learn from people.

It’s great to see how the project team are genuinely looking at how we can utilise these new tools while protecting what is good about the old style of training.

Stay up to date with the latest project news from ourNCTeducation on the project babble page here.

I thought someone should do something…so I did

Lucy Champion, Breastfeeding Counsellor and member of our Practitioners' Rep Body
Lucy Champion, BFC and PRB member

In May 2018 I received a message via Facebook (of course!) asking if I would like to join the Practitioners’ Rep Body (PRB). I had been quite vocal in the weeks before about a few things and the PRB thought I might like to take on some issues formally. So, channelling my best Prunella, I decided to say yes, so that I could join and try to influence change. One of the biggest areas of interest for me was the use of social media.

I soon found myself in the position of unofficial spokesperson for practitioners around any social media issues and kept in close contact with the Comms team at NCT to share feedback. Over the course of a year we had many honest conversations – not all easy ones – and trialled a collaboration between members of the PRB and the Comms team by having a small Facebook group where we could share ideas, give feedback and make suggestions about NCT’s social media. However, even with this, some social media offerings – particularly around breastfeeding – were upsetting practitioners.

We eventually came to realise that to truly understand the issues and make positive change, we – staff and practitioners together – needed to dedicate time to really drill down into the areas of concern to get it right.  

We already had the updated Infant Feeding Message Framework, but what was missing was more specific clarity on what it all means in practice for NCT’s communications across social media, in print and in digital content for parents. So the Deep Dive Group on infant feeding was born and our collective aim was to create an easy to understand and use guide for staff on all communications about infant feeding.

The process

We met 3 times in total and really thrashed it out. It was hard. It was emotive. There were disagreements. But together we began to understand each other’s perspectives. The hours of discussion meant I got an insight into staff roles and some of the complicated challenges they face and helpfully, learned what their goals actually were – but not just what, but why they were goals. For example, how different social media channels are used to reach different audiences; how different platforms and algorithms make a big difference to the way people engage with content and the careful planning that goes into getting the most value out of these platforms. There’s a lot of factors to consider. But, the way that parents are reached and what speaks to them isn’t always in line with our work as practitioners. This was really hard to accept sometimes but with talking and listening I began to see the importance of NCT voice vs practitioner voice vs parent voice. These are in some (but not all) circumstances quite different and the balancing act that NCT has is really very hard.

During the deep dive process I finally saw real change taking place. Deeper understanding and a mutual respect between all involved, greater appreciation for the Infant Feeding Message Framework and even a complete change in direction on some views of what NCT ‘should’ be saying about infant feeding. All now better aligning with the views and beliefs of many breastfeeding counsellors too.

Myself and other practitioners on the team were included in decisions and discussions throughout and in our final meeting we all went through the draft guide word by word ensuring that we all agreed entirely with the content. In addition, the guide has been reviewed by the CEOs of both First Steps Nutrition and The Breastfeeding Network. This is true co-production and collaboration.  

The finished product

Let’s be honest, this guide won’t tick everyone’s boxes. At times even breastfeeding counsellors may not agree with each other. But some hard decisions had to be made and some lines had to be drawn. While it is impossible to share with you all of those nuanced conversations that were had, believe me when I say that all of them were deep with various twists and turns and they allowed us to eventually come to mutually agreed decisions. Throughout this co-productive process I think we all changed and grew in some way too – just like this document can change and adapt as NCT does the same.

The writers of the guide – practitioners, staff and a trustee – have spent many hours getting this right and what has been produced will really help those who make the tricky decisions on how to talk about infant feeding and what images to use. Training for all comms staff on the WHO code has also taken place already to make sure that everyone is informed and on the same page, and this will be part of future inductions too.

NCT have really heard the concerns of practitioners and have made huge leaps forward to ensure that our message on infant feeding across all communications is consistent and the right one.

I’m really proud to have been part of this process. I have tried to be the voice for many practitioners and I really hope that you feel I have represented you well.

Beautiful things happen when we work together.

Find out more about NCT’s Infant Feeding Message Framework and view the easy-use guide here.

ourNCTeducation – a work in co-production

Rachael Bickley, practitioner and member of ourNCTeducation reference group
Rachael Bickley, ANT

My name is Rachael Bickley and I am an antenatal practitioner and have been working on the ourNCTeducation review as part of the reference group. This blog is just a bit of an overview about how we have been working together to develop the new education model for NCT practitioners. It isn’t ready yet and there is still work to be done but through this blog I wanted to share some of the emerging themes so far.

So… What is the goal?  What does success look like?

Well, the model will have been successful if it…

  • Increases the number of practitioners by 2023
  • Diversifies the practitioner profile
  • Improves parent feedback surrounding bias and reality vs expectations
  • Maintains NCT’s good reputation for high quality practitioner training and professional standards.

Putting our Heads Together

Bring any group of people together and ask them how to do something. It is probably guaranteed that you will get many different solutions to one problem, but this project has many challenges (not one) and the goal is to co-produce. So as many voices as possible are needed to make this work well. The review group has consulted with practitioners from all specialities through social media surveys, small focus groups and practitioner forums. The result was many different ideas of what practitioner education should look like, but listen just a little (and we have been listening a lot) and common themes start to float to the surface.

Our practitioners bring the skills through their training… but more support is needed

There has been agreement that the listening, facilitation and knowledge that practitioners offer parents through their training is hugely beneficial,  but more support is needed as practitioners move from study to practice.  This itself has sparked further conversations about how practitioners are trained and there has been agreement that a greater practical element to the training would benefit practitioners in their early practice.

We don’t use technology effectively enough

From our first initial contact on a Zoom conference call it became clear that we don’t use technology as well as we could in educating practitioners. In comparison to my phone tutorials on Level 6 this call was amazing. I could see everyone (even if it is online and not face-to-face) and the technology on Zoom works well. Throughout the co-production process it has become clear that some of the content we have as practitioners could be offered online – this would be very helpful for more remote students. But face-to-face contact in “real life” is valued too and so far everyone I have spoken to has felt a combination of these methods would be best.

All together now?

The discussions that developed about what practitioners needed for their role highlighted that some would benefit from greater counselling skills.  For example, antenatal practitioners in their role at postnatal sessions. A shared knowledge base and understanding of common themes was also highlighted and in turn developed the concept that perhaps the new model could have some elements that everyone studies and others that are added to it to develop specialities. There were acknowledged differences though, and it seems that a completely uniformed training for everyone isn’t at all desirable. That said, there could be some aspects that specialities could train together with.

Accreditation and cost

This has been a difficult one to discuss with views on both sides and probably the most polarising of aspects in the development of a new programme. My training was completed half with Bedfordshire and half with Worcester and I have just completed my BA (Hons) degree. I value the accreditation of my own learning very highly, but then I would, I have just completed it. But I think the Level 6 learning has given me a more critical view on evidence and allowed me to be more balanced in my approach to facilitating than I previously had. I have also found that other birth professionals have valued the qualification when they have learnt about it, but accreditation brings cost, and some have found the training too expensive. On the other hand, without accreditation national student loans and bursaries may not be available, which could increase the cost rather than lower it for some students. This is one area we are all still reviewing, but through the developing discussions there seems to be a bit of a shift towards an accreditation of some sort and the project team are looking into all the possibilities.

Onwards and upwards

Working on this project has been really interesting so far and certainly challenged some of my core ideas about our education. The discussion has been wide ranging, passionate and sometimes a bit difficult, but overall has strengthened my view that NCT practitioners love what they do, are proud of their training and give their best to the parents they support.

ourNCTeducation – open and collaborative

Helen Allmark, staff member and practitioner
Helen Allmark

It’s days like this, I love my roles in NCT. Today I have taken part in a Zoom call for our ourNCTeducation project. As a staff member, I am part of the project team, and as I am also a practitioner I am the link to the practitioner reference group. These two teams are working together to guide the project to identify a new education model, able to train high quality practitioners, in the right places (to meet current and potential demand), who are motivated to work with NCT, committed to their own CPD and are flexible to the changing needs of our organisation.

A big ask… but one that we are addressing head on, question by question. We have already recommended that there is more of a focus on practical experience working with parents during the training and that the training paths for facilitating groups and for working with parents could be different, whilst recognising the common elements too. Current questions being considered are ‘should the training be accredited or not?’ and  ‘what is the minimum time it could take to train a practitioner?’

The process is open and collaborative. We are spending time unpicking our assumptions (for example, would a non-accredited training package really be cheaper for students?) and looking for evidence to guide our decisions.

Both groups are made up of staff, practitioners and tutors with different backgrounds, experiences and views, leading to robust discussions. There’s lots of sharing, challenging and re-framing of conversations. Part of my role is to be the link between the two groups, so sharing where each group is up to, and looking at where similarities and differences are emerging.

It feels like lots of voices are being heard and it’s exciting to be part of this journey. Please keep up to date with the project at  https://babble.nct.org.uk/about-nct/our-work/research/ourncteducation and if you would like to offer your views please do so by emailing ourncteducation@nct.org.uk.

Reaching out in World Breastfeeding Week

Carolyn ready to give support

by Carolyn Neal, Breastfeeding Counsellor, Selby Branch

Mothercare invited me to come into their new store in York to promote World Breastfeeding Week. They were very keen and welcoming, so I agreed to come in for a few hours on the Saturday afternoon to speak to their shoppers and also take the opportunity to promote NCT’s antenatal courses and feeding support. One of my local colleagues and fellow Breastfeeding Counsellor (BFC), Elaine Antcliffe, came too.

I hadn’t done this sort of work before with Mothercare so wasn’t quite sure what to expect. Having a good working relationship with Tessa Kipping, in our Partnerships Team, I contacted her beforehand to check that this was OK to do and fell within our existing contract with Mothercare. I was pleased to find out too that NCT would pay me £87 plus expenses through their Mothercare contract – I am used to doing my BFC work on a voluntary basis so this was an added bonus!

On the day, I was warmly greeted by Mothercare staff and invited to sit at a table and chairs they had set up for me in a good position by their antenatal clothing. Unfortunately though in front of their promotional display for a well-known brand’s formula preparation machine… They had also put out a number of goody bags for us to give away to shoppers.

Several of their staff came to share their breastfeeding hopes, fears and issues so we had the chance to do a little counselling work. We also had some interest from pregnant shoppers who had either already booked their NCT antenatal course or accepted a leaflet about it.

We are all hoping this will lead into a bigger partnership with Mothercare and provide opportunity for our newly-qualified Breastfeeding Counsellors and Postnatal Leaders to get paid work within Mothercare stores. Although I had a great day unfortunately their sale was too good to resist and I ended up spending my earnings on the grandchildren!

Working towards one antenatal course

by Practitioner and Tutor Caroline Pearce

Hi, I’m Caroline. I’m part of the One Antenatal co-production team working to develop our new look antenatal course. My practice roles are Antenatal Practitioner (ANT), Baby Massage teacher (not as often as I would like) and Doula (when time permits, so not very often!). I also have Tutor roles at Level 4 and Level 5 specialising in the Antenatal pathway. 

Team dynamics

I think one of the reasons I was selected for the team is that I have multiple hats in NCT. I can easily see the perspective of current practitioners (particularly those who may have been in practice for some time, as I have) and current and future students. I’m also highly aware of all practitioners needing to be included in this project such as those who deliver our Essential courses. 

We had our first meeting back in June – the team has been thoughtfully put together with a range of us from different specialisms. Anyone who has ever attended a cross-specialism study day will know the huge value that that brings. One of the ‘ground rules’ that we established on our first day together is that everybody’s voice needs to be heard.

We’ve had two face-to-face meetings so far and several remote Zoom meetings (see collage of us waving above!). Once we got over the initial technical issues, these worked really well. The meetings are intense. There’s so much to get through but Sarah McMullen (Head of Knowledge) keeps us focused and there is a rigorous (if ambitious!) project deadline, which we are all working towards.

Learning outcomes

One of the things we are working on at the moment is learning outcomes (LO) – anyone who knows me knows I am a bit of a stickler with these so it was with some trepidation that I approached the first meeting on this. 

We are hoping to come up with some over-arching LO’s for the course and leave practitioners to create their own LO’ s for their own individual sessions. In the back of our minds we’re constantly thinking about how this can be a more consistent experience for parents and yet let practitioners retain their autonomy, which we absolutely accept is very important for some practitioners and is perhaps the reason that they were drawn to work with the NCT, rather than any other organisation. We also have to consider the implications this may have on new students we are recruiting and their training. 

Shiny new resources

We are also focusing on resources – I am so excited to get the new resource pack which will contain some beautiful laminated images of birth and early parenting.  In the face of ever increasing competition in this market it is so important for us to be seen to have a modern image.

New deadlines have been set through July and August, so while some of you may be kicking back and enjoying the summer the One Antenatal team will be beavering away trying to get this right for new recruits, existing practitioners and NCT as a whole. 

Your voice matters

We absolutely want your voice to be heard throughout this process so if there are any questions you have or any input which you think would be helpful for us, please do get in touch. If you haven’t already, please do complete our survey to tell us what you’d like the final course framework and toolkit to include!

Watch a short video above from the co-production team. 

Creating our future antenatal course

by Antenatal Teacher Sue Woollett

Sue (in pink) in action with the One Antenatal co-production team

I qualified as an Antenatal Teacher in 2008 and thought I’d probably be teaching antenatal courses in the evenings in Nottingham perhaps for to five times a year. Little did I know that a change in my other work would lead to my facilitating NCT courses all over Great Britain, from Edinburgh to Exeter, Cambridge to Caerphilly, at weekends and on weekday evenings, a variety of formats, Signature and Essentials, and up to 30 courses a year. When I went to one of the ourNCTservices workshops, I wasn’t remotely surprised to hear how many different formats and price points there were for antenatal courses; I was personally responsible for several of them.

So when the opportunity came up to get involved with the One Antenatal project, I decided to go for it. It wasn’t without some trepidation. I’ve worked in several organisations which have seen major changes, as well as those seen in NCT, and I know it makes for a difficult time. Hand on heart, I sat in the first meeting thinking, OMG is this going to upset everyone? Is there a sub-plot to develop a 300-page manual that will be handed to students who have been through five one-day training sessions and will be sent away to deliver the exact same course to a script? I can’t be associated with anything like that, that’s not very NCT. 

As the project has moved along I’ve realised that’s not the plan at all. I have more confidence now that the project will pull together a course which will allow practitioners to maintain our autonomy whilst harmonising the content to ensure parents can be assured of receiving a great quality course, wherever they live and whoever facilitates it. If you’re asked to get involved or have the opportunity to give us some feedback or opinions, please do. We can’t do this without you.


Watch our video about One Antenatal featuring a handful of the co-production team.

Giving feedback

You can keep up to date with our progress and opportunities for involvement on babble. We’d love to hear your ideas of what to include in our future course framework – you can share them in this survey.

Can safe ever be fun?

by Anne Kent-Taylor, Head of Operations and outgoing Safeguarding Lead…

I’m not alone as a Head of Operations in being concerned about the way in which my role is perceived by an organisation. I have heard other operational managers, at other organisations, cry:

“I’m sick of being told I’m too negative.”
“It’s my job to notice potential problems and fix them.”

So when you’re in a role that requires you to be risk-aware, and to keep the organisation safe, how can you make it fun? Adding the responsibility of safeguarding lead to my remit did not seem like the obvious way of making my working day more cutting edge.

My safeguarding role started three years ago with a review of policy and procedure, and the drafting of an action plan. So far, so typical.

I worked together with other staff members, particularly in commissioned services, to ensure that the right procedures were in place to check, train and support staff, volunteers and practitioners that may come in to contact with babies, children, young people or vulnerable adults.

In the first three months as safeguarding lead, I was contacted just three times.

Could this be right? We know that we see nearly 100,000 parents through courses each year; over 10,000 women through commissioned services each year, and around 15,000 parents through branch events each week.

It’s really hard to find out the “right” level of safeguarding concerns for a charity. I have seen one charity present a graph showing an increase in concerns but omitting the numbers from the axis! There are currently a couple of larger children’s charities working together to benchmark safeguarding – but their beneficiaries are different to ours.

How would we know when we were at the right level?

We decided that what we wanted to see was an increase in concerns reported. That we wouldn’t aim for a number, and we would never be worried that it was “too high”, but we wanted more people to get in touch with us.

I carried on implementing the action plan but it wasn’t making safeguarding tangible for people. We had to make it more relevant, more real, more relatable.

The breakthrough was to take a more creative approach – away from policy and action plans – and to make safeguarding come alive. We wanted to be able to talk about safeguarding every month, which meant we needed to find stories to tell.

From the contacts we’d had with practitioners and volunteers, we knew the sorts of things that they encountered and were worried about. So we began a series of “Safeguarding scenarios” in Update, our monthly internal newsletter. I’m pretty sure you will have read one, as they were the most clicked through article in Staff, Practitioner and Volunteer Update for three months in a row and people have been in touch with us to say how useful they find them.

Sometimes we use real life examples – an anonymised version of something that we have been contacted about. Sometimes we invent situations which we know people have concerns about. Sometimes we base it on examples given by other charities. We always provide links to additional resources and make sure that everyone knows to contact the Safeguarding Lead if something doesn’t feel right.

In the last three months, I was contacted 21 times.

The contacts range from safeguarding concerns, to advice about mental health, assessing criminal record checks, and supporting people with sharing information.

The role has allowed a bit of creativity, a lot of variety, and the chance to see something new at NCT.

Now that I’ve spent nearly three years in this role, it’s time to hand over to another staff member. The responsibility of Safeguarding Lead will move to Helen Simkin, our Head of People. This marks the next stage of NCT’s journey in embedding a culture of safeguarding. Placing this responsibility with Helen allows for learning and development – in safeguarding and safer recruitment – along with the chance to upskill the organisation in mental health awareness.

Safeguarding is everyone’s responsibility and I’m proud of the way NCT has developed over the last three years, and the opportunity that focusing on an area where we need policy and process has still allowed creativity and humanity.


Sample safeguarding scenario:

Scenario 3 | December 2018

A couple in a same sex relationship have been attending an antenatal class that you are teaching, they have been engaging and you have no previous concerns. Tonight as you were loading your equipment into the car after the course, you notice that they are arguing loudly in another part of the carpark, you also notice one partner appear to strike their pregnant partner.

  1. What would you do immediately?
  2. Would you record any of this, and if so where?
  3. What actions would you take in the longer term?
  4. If you felt that you needed to take further advice who would you speak to?

  • What would you do immediately?
    • Be aware of your own safety; do not attempt to intervene alone.
    • The same sex relationship is irrelevant; you are witnessing an assault of a pregnant woman and must act as she is in immediate danger.
    • Where is the carpark? Can you call out to security?
    • Is there anyone else in the area who can help?
    • Call the police 999

There is no set order to the actions above, they can be done concurrently. This is a situation where you must act quickly.

  • Would you record any of this, and if so where?
    • Do you have the details of the attendees to hand? The police will need this when they arrive. If possible, make a note of the car registration.
    • Afterwards when you get home, try to make some notes whilst it is fresh in your memory.
    • After you have spoken to the safeguarding lead, you will be required to complete an NCT safeguarding form.
    • As the police have been involved, you may also be required to be available to give further information.

  • What actions would you take in the longer term?
    • Make contact with the NCT Safeguarding Lead (safeguarding@nct.org.uk)
    • You need to speak to the safeguarding lead and agree a plan, BEFORE you attempt to contact the mum who was assaulted. Due to the nature of domestic violence, this mum may not be ready to leave this relationship and may not welcome contact from you. The police will make a referral to the duty safeguarding team as standard and they will use specialist workers along with the police liaison officer to support the family.
    • Keep updating the NCT safeguarding lead.
    • Often after a serious situation such as this, you won’t be given any further updates as it’s considered that your role has ended. Whilst this may feel frustrating, you have to remember that you have done the right thing at the right time and have faith in the statutory services.

  • If you felt that you needed to take further advice who would you speak to?
    • Contact NCT’s safeguarding lead at safeguarding@nct.org.uk, as soon as possible
    • Complete an NCT safeguarding recording form.

Whilst domestic violence may not feel very festive, it has been chosen for the December Update as year on year statistics show a huge spike in incidents over the festive period. You may not ever come into contact with an assault like the scenario, but be mindful, know where to signpost – there are good organisations listed in the further resources section below. The more that you are informed, the more you can help someone – even if it is just showing them a phone number.


Resources

Women’s aid – further information on forms and types of domestic abuse
National domestic vioence helpline – free helpline and information on the website. Anyone can ring for advice.
Save lives – information on policy and statistics
NHS – information for victims