Children’s centres and community partnership are baby friendly

North Somerset Children’s Centres and North Somerset Community Partnership (NSCP) Health Visiting Service have been recognised for the quality of service and support they continue to provide to mothers around infant feeding.

They have been accredited with the prestigious Baby Friendly Award, achieving international recognition from Unicef (United Nation’s Children’s Fund).

The Health Visiting service was first accredited in 2014, and was reaccredited in 2016, demonstrating a commitment to maintaining high standards of care for mothers and babies in North Somerset.

The Health Visiting team at NSCP works closely with North Somerset Council’s Children’s Centres, who passed their Stage 3 assessment to become fully accredited at the same time. In their report inspectors noted that ‘the services work so closely together that it felt like one service, and mothers have seamless care.’

“The two organisations work together with Unicef UK’s Baby Friendly Initiative to increase breastfeeding rates and to improve care for all mothers in North Somerset. Our intention is for the Health Visiting Service and Children’s Centres to work together to achieve the Unicef Baby friendly Gold award within the next year,” said Sara Zinn, Infant feeding lead at NSCP.

Matt Lenny, Director of Public Health at North Somerset Council added: “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 the mother’s risk of some cancers – although mums might be more interested in hearing that once it is established it is easier, cheaper and simply less hassle than bottle feeding.

“But however a mother chooses to feed her baby, she can be sure that she will be supported to form a strong loving relationship with her newborn – through having maximum skin to skin contact and understanding how her baby communicates with her and needs her to respond.”

The Baby Friendly Initiative, set up by Unicef and the World Health Organisation, is a global programme which provides a practical and effective way for health services to improve the care provided for all mothers and babies. In the UK, the initiative works with UK public services to protect, promote, and support breastfeeding and to strengthen mother-baby and family relationships. Support for these relationships is important for all babies, not only those who are breastfed. The award is given to health and children’s services after an assessment by a Unicef team has shown that recognised best practice standards are in place.

“We are delighted that NSCP and the Children’s Centres have jointly achieved full Baby Friendly status,” said Baby Friendly Initiative Programme Director, Sue Ashmore. “Surveys show us that most mothers want to breastfeed but don’t always get the support they need. Mothers in North Somerset can be confident that their health visitors will provide high standards of care.”

For details of local breastfeeding support, including weekly groups that are run by volunteer breastfeeding peer supporters in Children’s Centres and community venues across North Somerset visit