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Our peer-support service for mothers benefits service users and volunteers

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The Auntie Pam’s service was opened in 2010 to support mums-to-be and new mums in Dewsbury.


  • Project: Auntie Pam’s
  • Objectives: Supporting healthy personal behaviours of women before, during and after pregnancy and birth
  • Timescale: 2010 – present
  • Cost to authority: Approx. £110,000 p/a
  • Number of staff working on project: 2.5 full-time equivalent management staff - service delivered by around 25 volunteers
  • Outcomes: Increased number of women of childbearing age taking up positive lifestyle choices to improve health and wellbeing through a whole-life approach to social, economic and financial circumstances. Addressing negative health behaviours, including the emotional wellbeing aspects of those choices
  • Officer contact details: Dee Haigh

In November 2014 a second branch opened in Queensgate Market, Huddersfield. The trained peer volunteers, who are all local mums, offer confidential one-to-one chats, a cuppa and a non-judgemental listening ear.

Understanding the pressures that parents face, they offer continued support within Auntie Pam’s, signposting to other services and providing resources such as books, baby clothes and equipment.

Auntie Pam’s one-to-one peer support offers people the chance to identify and talk through issues, prioritise needs, and find goals and solutions.

Dee haigh

Dee Haigh

Dee Haigh

Clients and volunteers are supported with whole-life approaches to social, economic and financial challenges.

Lgc awards 2016

Lgc awards 2016

This project won LGC’s 2016 community involvement award

The project sought to help women who did not access maternity and health services and information in a timely way and/or with limited confidence to discuss their pregnancy and health with clinical practitioners.

We also wanted to address unhealthy behaviours that had an impact on maternal wellbeing, such as poor diet, inactivity, smoking, alcohol and substance misuse. The project sought to help these women to find active solutions to challenging lifestyle issues, reduce the isolation they felt, and cut infant mortality rates in Kirklees. We wanted to do all of this through a peer service delivery model, thorough bespoke training and capacity building.

Auntie Pam’s was created in 2009 within the local primary care trust, to provide a community-based resource to support improved health and wellbeing outcomes for mums, mums-to-be and babies. Auntie Pam’s became part of Kirklees Council in 2013 with the dissolution of PCTs.

Doing things differently and getting people involved are high on the agenda in the new climate of Kirklees local authority services. Early intervention, prevention and economic resilience are key themes of development. Auntie Pam’s brought with it proven track record of successful engagement, development and cost effective service delivery, with local people at the heart of operations.

The service has a commitment to offering a gold standard service for clients, and supporting the aspirations of volunteers to progress through learning and knowledge pathways, increasing their personal resilience and lifestyle choices.

Women who are often at the margins of education and learning have an opportunity to become peer supporters, and be supported in building their own confidence, skills and knowledge to manage their own changes in health and well-being, learning and employment.

Aunty pams 2

Aunty pams 2

The service was developed, designed and is delivered by local women and is a direct result of local women shaping a service from their vision and needs, and requiring a service led by ‘someone like me’. Underpinned by public health specialists, intelligence and evidence base specialists, and using the National Social Marketing Centre’s total planning process and outcome-based accountability models, both those who use the service and peer support volunteers are continually involved in monitoring, evaluating and refining the service.

So far, Auntie Pam’s has helped more than 400 new clients in six years. Over half of them use the service more than once, more than 50% are first-time mums and nearly 60% of them are under 25. We have made 500 referrals to other services and won 10 individual and group learning and community awards.

The benefits also extend to our volunteers. We’ve trained more than 200 local women to be peer supporters between 2010 and 2016, and of those more than 70 volunteered for six hours or more per week. We currently have 26 regular volunteers. Our volunteers between them have taken more than 30 further education courses and 20 have moved on to take midwifery degrees.

In May 2015, Auntie Pam’s was mainstreamed within the local authority. It is regularly showcased to other services as a viable model of delivery, and a number of services are already using or looking to use the model to reshape their own delivery and engagement with residents.

Dee Haigh, public health improvement specialist, Kirklees Council



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