Free online parenting courses launched for families in Devon, Plymouth and Torbay

Families in Devon, Plymouth and Torbay can benefit from free online parenting courses that are being launched today (8 June 2020) at the start of Infant Mental Health Awareness Week.

The courses have been created by the Solihull Approach and focus on supporting the relationships between parents, grandparents, and/or carers and their children by improving emotional health and wellbeing.

The four courses provide information about pregnancy and birth, brain development and the physical and emotional development of your baby. They are being launched at the start of Infant Mental Health Awareness Week which runs from 7-12 June and this year’s theme is ‘seeing the world through babies’ eyes’.

Emotional and practical support

Kate Pethick, Chair of Devon Maternity Voices Partnership, added: “Following conversations with families across Devon, we know that parents and parents-to-be want information that prepares them both practically and emotionally for pregnancy, birth and early parenting, and equips them to continue their parenting journey with confidence.

“The Solihull programme gives evidence-based information to support informed decision-making from understanding pregnancy and making birth choices, to parenting toddlers and teenagers. The courses consider relationships, emotions and brain development, as well as more practical aspects, such as babies’ sleep and feeding.

“During this time of COVID-19 restrictions and anxiety, access to these free, online, and highly-quality resources for all parents-to-be, parents and carers in Devon, is so important and we hope they will continue to support positive outcomes and experiences for all families who use it over the next three years.”

Local Maternity Systems working together

Funding has been provided by the two Local Maternity Systems that cover Devon, Torbay, Plymouth, Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly, which are made up of representatives of health and care organisations, including public health and NHS Devon Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG).

The Devon Local Maternity System includes doctors, midwives and other healthcare professionals from the providers of maternity care in Devon, Plymouth and Torbay and Devon Maternity Voices Partnership.

Parenting is the biggest factor in determining children’s wellbeing and development

Virginia Pearson, Director of Public Health Devon and Chief Officer for Communities, Public Health, Environment and Prosperity at Devon County Council, said: “The courses, which have been developed by registered professionals and parents, provide a wealth of information for parents, grandparents and carers about pregnancy, birth and the development of the brain, alongside the emotional development of the child right up until their 19th birthday.”

Helen Hallam, Project Manager, 0-19 Torbay, Action for Children, added: “We know that parenting is the biggest factor in determining children’s wellbeing and development. The Solihull Approach parenting programme has proved itself to be a highly successful and practical approach to support parent’s understanding of, and connection with their babies and children. It not only plays a vital role in ensuring children have a good start in life, it also enhances the joy, wonder and pride that parents and children can find in each other.”

Working together across the health and care system

Councillor Jemima Laing, Plymouth City Council’s cabinet member for Children and Young People, said: “The opportunity to offer these online courses to all residents of Plymouth, and our neighbours in Devon, Torbay and Cornwall for three years reflects how by working together across the health and care system can have a real benefit for our communities.

“I’m delighted that as we approach Infant Mental Health Awareness Week, of which the theme, aptly, this year is ‘seeing the world through babies’ eyes’ we are able to make this excellent support available to whoever feels they would benefit.”

“We want all babies to have the very best start in life”

Victoria Howard, Health Visitor Professional Lead at Devon County Council, said: “We want all babies to have the very best start in life and for their parents to feel supported when they use our services. The free online Solihull courses do just that, providing easy to access practical support at any time of the day, which will help shape babies’ long-term resilience and mental health and wellbeing throughout their lifetime.”

Access to the free online courses is available at using the code TAMAR, which provides lifetime access. The courses are available in different languages including Urdu, Polish, Chinese, Bulgarian and Arabic.