Help still at hand for teenage parents

TEENAGERS across Suffolk were today reassured they will still get help while facing the traumas of pregnancy, despite the end of a popular parenting project.

TEENAGERS across Suffolk were today reassured they will still get help while facing the traumas of pregnancy, despite the end of a popular parenting project.

Devoted parents Sarah Bunyan, 19, and Owen Thompson, 26, say without the amazing support of the county's Teenage Pregnancy Team (TPT) they would have found the birth of their daughter, Kiera, who was born in August, a horrendous process.

They are worried that other teenagers, some much more vulnerable than they were, will not have this support after the service closes in March.

But today Suffolk County Council insisted the team had not been axed because of budget cuts. They said it was a pilot scheme, and lessons learned would be incorporated into services offered by children's centres across the county.

Sarah, who lives in The Walk, Kesgrave, with Owen, said: “I got given so much grief for having a baby and without their support I'd have gone doolally.

“I'm worried more for the people who don't have anyone for support. They talk you through every option.

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“It is a real lifeline, I couldn't have coped without it and I can't believe that the funding is being cut.”

Owen added: “I was so scared when I found out, it was so important to have support and the man who works with the fathers was great, he really understood the feelings I was having and how he could help.”

The couple explained that the TPT had helped with all aspects of the pregnancy and birth including ante-natal classes, birthing options, making friends to talk to, advice on child-friendly venues in Ipswich, baby massage courses and cookery lessons, and also support in dealing with social services.

A county council spokesman said the project was a pilot, designed to get useful ideas for the future of the much larger services now available to people.

These are based at 12 Children's Centres and several health service projects run by the NHS and the voluntary sector.

The "Baby n' Me" project was funded for two years, and staff were appointed on two-year contracts.

He said: “The project could only work with a limited number of young parents but now the valuable lessons learned will be used with many more young parents right across Suffolk.

“Young people who use pregnancy and parenting support services at Childrens Centres, of which there will be 35 across the county, and GP surgeries and health centres, will gain from the new ideas developed.

“This was an excellent project, which has already suggested several important new ways to work with young parents. For example, most of the young people who attended the group are now using the support available in their local area.”

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www.suffolk.gov.uk

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