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Children centres in Lancashire secure international UNICEF award with help from Lancashire Care

Posted on the 26th January 2017

With support from Lancashire Care’s Infant Feeding Team, children centres in Lancashire have received international recognition from UNICEF (the United Nations’ Children’s Fund) by being awarded the prestigious Baby Friendly Award.

Set up by UNICEF and the World Health Organisation, the Baby Friendly Initiative is a global programme that provides a practical and effective way for health services to improve the care provided to mothers and babies. Following intense assessment by UNICEF, the children’s centres were handed the Award as a way of recognising that best practice standards in infant feeding are in place.

To celebrate the success, and to recognise Lancashire Care’s Children and Family Health Service’s peer support in securing the full BFI accreditation earlier this year, members of the Trust’s Infant Feeding Team have organised three partnership  celebration events at children centres in Lancashire with the first held on Thursday 26 January at the First Steps Children’s Centre in Skelmersdale. A further two events are to be held at Poulton Children’s Centre, Morecambe on 31 January and at the Park Child & Family Centre in Accrington on 2 February.

Katie Wharton, Infant Feeding Coordinator at Lancashire Care NHS Foundation Trust, said: “Following three days of assessment of children’s centres in Lancashire, UNICEF awarded the centres BFI status. This was a fantastic opportunity to demonstrate the quality and effectiveness of the Infant Feeding and Relationship Building support that is offered across Lancashire.

“UNICEF UK's Baby Friendly Initiative is crucial in increasing breastfeeding rates, it also aims to ensure optimal feeding practices and build loving relationship for parents and their babies. Breastfeeding protects babies against a wide range of serious illnesses including gastroenteritis and respiratory infections in infancy as well as asthma, cardiovascular disease and diabetes in later life. We also know that breastfeeding reduces a mother’s risk of some cancers—although mums might be more interested in hearing that it is easier, cheaper and simply less hassle than bottle feeding.

“A mother who chooses to breastfeed her baby can be sure that she will be supported to form a strong loving relationship with her new-born through having maximum skin to skin contact and understanding how her baby communicates with her and needs her to respond.”

During the visit, UNICEF UK assessed the Infant Feeding Policies at the children’s centres along with the training curriculums and resources used with mothers and families.  They also attended the centres and groups, interviewed staff and spoke to over 50 families. BFI assessors commented in their assessment report that “it is clear the services support mothers with infant feeding and developing close and loving relationships with their baby in ways which are sensitive and effective.”

In the UK, the Baby Friendly Initiative works with UK public services to protect, promote and support breastfeeding, and strengthen mother-baby and family relationships. Support for these relationships is important for all babies, not only those who are breastfed.