We’ve had an incredibly busy and exciting time at Best Beginnings in the last few months. I’m writing to share with you our latest news and tell you about some great ways you can get more actively involved in the charity.

Whether you’re an expecting or new mum, dad or partner, a healthcare professional, funder or fundraiser, my team and I consider you to be a key member of the Best Beginnings family. Together we are working to give every child in the UK the best start in life. 

Once you’ve read this newsletter I’d love you to email me with your ideas and feedback.

Happy 1st Birthday Baby Buddy!

We launched our award winning Baby Buddy app on November 19th 2014. So, today we are celebrating Baby Buddy’s 1st birthday!  Baby Buddy is endorsed by the Department of Health and many royal colleges and was funded by the Big Lottery Fund. To-date we’ve had over 45,000 downloads. Downloads are building steadily, with over 100 new users registering every day! 

If you’ve not already done so, you can download Baby Buddy for free from Google Play or the App Store, or by simply clicking the icon on the right.  A desktop version of Baby Buddy is also available.

Whether you are new to Baby Buddy or have been using the app for a while, it would be brilliant if you could leave a review on the app store. It will take you a few minutes but would be a wonderful first birthday present to Baby Buddy! With more reviews Baby Buddy will move further up the app store ranking, become a featured app and get more downloads and help more parents – you can help make this happen!

Baby Buddy posters and leaflets are another way to raise awareness about Baby Buddy.  Last week we secured funding which enables us to offer free Baby Buddy leaflets and posters to hospitals, community centres, children centres, libraries and other charities across the country. 

Baby Buddy app launches in Nottingham

Nottingham is one of our active Baby Buddy embedding sites. Following a successful local launch in September more parents and parents-to-be across Nottingham are now benefitting.

Steph Brannigan of Bulwell, Notts (pictured), said at the launch: “I think Baby Buddy’s great as it gives parents the space to ask questions, that they may think are silly, at any time day or night. The easy to understand chunks of information and choice to personalise your avatar is a great feature and what really sets Baby Buddy apart.”

New Baby Buddy films

I’m delighted to tell you that we’ve started adding some of our new films into Baby Buddy.

There’s a great mix of parent led and healthcare professional led film clips, including films with Dr Ranj of TV fame and midwife Sheena Byrom. You’ll also see that there is a good mix of films about mental health and physical health. I’d love your feedback on them.

We’ll be adding many more films into Baby Buddy in the coming weeks and months once they’ve been approved by our Editorial Board and Parent Panel. Read below to find out how you can join our growing Parents Panel!

EHI Awards 2015

I’m proud to let you know that we were finalists for the prestigious EHI Awards - the UK's dedicated healthcare IT award scheme. Photography is courtesy of Best Beginnings’ Trustee Janet Fyle @consideredview. 

Our Baby Buddy app was a finalist in the 'Healthcare IT Product Innovation' category. With thanks to Neil Hadland for organising such a fantastic event. Although we didn't quite scoop the award, we are delighted to congratulate category winners Big White Wall on their amazing work.

A big thanks to David White at ITRM for sponsoring our table at the awards, as well as our guests Richard Williams from the National Council for Voluntary Organisations, and Lauren Goodenough from our digital supplier Despark.

Following the awards EHI held their annual EHI Live conference in Birmingham. The conference gave an exciting window into how different forms of technology can have an impact on many different aspects of healthcare, from big data and diagnosis to instantly accessible information and support for chronic conditions. As a finalist, I was invited to talk and share our Baby Buddy journey and or plans. Helen Daly and Katherine Hodges from the team were also up at the event. We met some brilliant people at the Best Beginnings stand, as we do at all the conferences we attend.

The power of collaboration

The team and I have had a busy few months attending, exhibiting and speaking at conferences and events across the country, and we’re in the middle of another busy time with the RCM, CPHVA and UNICEF BFI conference all within a fortnight!

Recent events include: the Rotary 1130 District Conference; the Pelvic, Obstetric & Gynaecological Physiotherapists (POGP) Annual Conference; a Hubdot event; and the Healthcare Efficiency Through Technology Expo.

The Chartered Society of Physiotherapists kicked off the season with the POGP Annual Conference in Harrogate in September. I was honoured to have been asked to give the Margie Polden Memorial Lecture.  By lovely coincidence, my mother, Glenda Baum, is a Chartered Physiotherapist who was a friend of Margie Polden. In my talk, I shared insights from the development the Baby Buddy, in-app user analytics and previewed films for parents on topics relevant to pelvic, obstetric and gynaecological health. These films, including films about pelvic floor exercise, which were incredibly well received. They will soon be available in the Baby Buddy app.

Hub Dot hosted the Transformational Journey of Motherhood: an event about how motherhood means different things to different woman. Here I talked briefly about my personal and professional background and why I set up Best Beginnings. I’d like to thank Hub Dot for giving me the opportunity to share the Best Beginnings story and meet some fabulous women who now want to volunteer for Best Beginnings. If you also want to help out, please do drop me an email as I’d love to hear from you. 

Maternal Mental Health update

Next spring we will the launch our evidence-based Maternal Mental Health films project Out of the Blue.  We’re busy working with endorsing bodies, mums and healthcare professionals during the final stages of editing.

Up to 10% of women will suffer from perinatal mental health issues that can occur during pregnancy and in the year after birth (in Latin ‘peri’ means ‘around’ and natal means ‘birth’).  The project aims to raise awareness and reduce stigma and will include training resources for staff involved in supporting wellbeing and care.  There will also be a number of shorter films where mums and partners talk about their experiences – these will be uploaded to the Baby Buddy app and our Vimeo and YouTube channels. 

Impact study of Best Beginnings’ resources underway

We’re delighted to be working with three areas in the North of England – Leeds, Chester and South Tees – on a two year project to integrate four of Best Beginnings’ resources (Small Wonders; From Bump to Breastfeeding; Baby Buddy app; Baby Express age and stage magazine) into local service delivery and to evaluate their impact on outcomes. This Department of Health funded project is being led by midwife Fiona Dry. The University of Central Lancashire are undertaking the evaluation.

September saw the first staff training workshops taking place in Chester, facilitated by Fiona Dry and Best Beginnings’ National Facilitator, midwife Esther Sharma. Using our structured “Appreciative Enquiry” approach, the workshops allowed staff to explore the resources and develop a plan of how to integrate them into local service delivery. Our resources will be fully available to parents in Chester within a few weeks.

Join our Parents Panel!

Emilie-Mai MacCormack has joined Best Beginnings as our community engagement intern, and has recently launched our Parent’s Panel: an opportunity for mums, dads and partners to give their views on what we do, keep up to date, and to get involved in the resources we offer and develop. 

Emilie has been an ambassador for Best Beginnings over the last year, helping raise awareness and promoting Baby Buddy. She became involved in the charity after benefitting from the Small Wonders programme.  Emilie says: “We’ve already got some fantastic parents on the Parent Panel but it is not too late to get involved in the invaluable work we do here.” If you are interested in joining the Parents Panel please email: emilie@bestbeginnings.org.uk

Thank you

Thank you to everyone who has generously donated, set up a regular payment, or is one of our ongoing fundraisers.  Every donation makes a difference.

Please donate online or text Best01 £5 to 70070 in celebration of Baby Buddy’s first birthday.   

Together we can make a difference for future generations.

Warmest wishes