Category: Partnerships

Powerful new radio campaign for parents wanting to break the cycle of domestic abuse and give their babies the best start in life

The For Baby’s Sake Trust, a national charity helping parents break the cycle of domestic abuse and give their babies the best start in life, has produced a series of radio ads, aimed at enabling new and expectant parents who are in abusive relationships to take action and seek support. You can hear the ads here:

The radio ads were launched on 11 March 2021 and will run until the end of March in Birmingham, London, the North East and nationally on Capital, Heart, LBC and Capital Xtra. They all feature the voices and real life experiences of parents who have been in abusive relationships and received support to break the cycle of domestic abuse.  The parents who speak have been supported by the charity’s pioneering programme, For Baby’s Sake.

The charity has based the ads on findings from its recent research with parents about parenthood, domestic abuse and the motivations and barriers for parents to seeking support.

The research commissioned from YouGov* found that 40% of parents who experienced domestic abuse said it occurred during pregnancy or before their baby’s second birthday.  This period, known as the baby’s first 1001 days, was the most common time for domestic abuse to occur during parenthood. 

For parents who experienced domestic abuse during their baby’s first 1001 days:

  • 40% didn’t feel able to seek professional help
  • The desire to give their baby or children a better start was the main motivator to think about seeking support (cited by 32%)
  • Feeling ashamed was the top
    barrier to seeking support (cited by 37%)
  • 33% said that not knowing how to talk about the situation was a barrier to seeking help

The survey found that nearly 9 in 10 parents (89%) think parents’ lives during pregnancy and the first two years of a baby’s life are important for defining the person the baby becomes.  A quarter of parents (26%) said their parents gave them a great start, while half of parents (53%) said their parents gave them the best start they could.

When asked about the support they would have liked their own parents to have received, recurrent themes included mental health, understanding how to build children’s self-esteem and enabling children to talk about their feelings.  Parents often reflected that support was not accessible to their parents’ generation.  One parent said, “Looking back, I didn’t get a lot of praise and I don’t have high self-esteem. I also regret not instilling that in my own children.” 

The radio ads connect with parents’ motivation to give their baby a better start. The personal stories, from the mother who built her self-esteem and the father who worked through his feelings of shame, show that, with support, there is another way.

The ads encourage parents to take action and begin their journey by visiting The For Baby’s Sake Trust’s website.  Exploring the site may give parents new ways of understanding what they are experiencing or how they are behaving and the changes they would like to make.  There are tools and resources that might help parents with emotional regulation or support conversations between parents and professionals to explore whether domestic abuse is occurring. 

Speaking about the campaign, Amanda McIntyre, CEO of The For Baby’s Sake Trust, said:

“Experiences during pregnancy and the first two years of a child’s life shape their futures. Trauma experienced then can reverberate throughout their lives and affect their own children if they go on to be parents. As our research shows, parents feel the importance of giving their babies the best possible start in life. That is challenging enough for any parent but particularly so if you’re in a relationship that’s abusive.

It is a big step for parents in abusive relationships to seek help, which is why our ads feature people like them who have taken action – to show it can be done. As our research illustrates, parents really need support to be able to talk about domestic abuse. The resources on our website can help parents and professionals to start those conversations.”

A For Baby’s Sake mother, who sought help for herself and her co-parent during pregnancy, believes it is so important to encourage parents to take that crucial first step: “It’s given me confidence to be a good mum and to really say what it is that I think and feel. And also stand up for myself and say what it is I’m willing to accept and not accept.”

A For Baby’s Sake father speaks “to anyone feeling shameful, feeling like they’re not worth anything’, encouraging them to take action by saying, “You will be a better person. I am and it’s worth it.”

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Academic evaluation says ‘unique’ For Baby’s Sake ‘fills an important gap in provision’

For Baby’s Sake, the innovative whole-family programme created by the Stefanou Foundation to tackle the cycle of domestic abuse, is described in a report published on 28 May 2020 as the first of its kind to fill an important gap in provision. The in-depth, independent evaluation of For Baby’s Sake, led by King’s College London, was the result of a four-year study and highlights how the programme’s unique approach, working with the whole family, is overcoming key limitations to responding to domestic abuse.

Professor Louise Howard of King’s College London, who led the evaluation team, said, ‘For Baby’s Sake was developed using the evidence base on domestic abuse, pregnancy, trauma, and infant and perinatal mental health.  The For Baby’s Sake team have worked with local government, especially children’s social care, and engaged parents with multiple complex needs and histories of childhood trauma.  Most of the people we interviewed for the evaluation, who remained in For Baby’s Sake over time, were able to identify specific ways that they had changed their behaviour, and related these to aspects of the programme.’

Stelio Stefanou, Chairman of the Stefanou Foundation said, ‘We’re pleased that the evaluation led by King’s College London has confirmed what we already knew from experience; that For Baby’s Sake is ground-breaking and parents are using it to make changes for themselves and their babies. New legislation going through Parliament proves there is a desire to transform how the UK addresses domestic abuse whilst, sadly, the recent lockdown restrictions have created an urgency for achieving it.’

Amanda McIntyre, Director of the Stefanou Foundation said, ‘‘Cambridgeshire and Blackpool have already opened For Baby’s Sake sites, building on the experience of the programme in Hertfordshire and London. The evaluation findings, along with the way parents are continuing to reach out to For Baby’s Sake during COVID-19, have made us even more keen to work with partners to expand further, to reach more babies and families to break the cycle of domestic abuse.’

We are very grateful to the co-designers, Roxane Agnew-Davies, Mark Coulter and Christine Puckering who we commissioned to work closely with us on the design of For Baby’s Sake.

We are also grateful to so many partners and stakeholders for their teamwork and support to reach this point.  Some of them have kindly provided quotes to mark the publication of the evaluation.  

To read their reflections, to download the joint summary of the evaluation and register to read the full report click here

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