Teenage Mum's & their children bare brunt of Cuts

Further research has shown that the austerity effect 'hits women twice as hard as men' (the Guardian, 19 November). And some women are inevitably hitter harder than others. The pressures on young women are hard enough, let alone as a young mum, yet they are set to bare the brunt of further cuts as precious support services are closed. The following information has been taken from the press release drafted by Unite the Union.

Family Nurse Partnership Cut in Manchester

Due to national reduction to the Public Health Grant as one of many austerity cuts imposed by the Conservative government and additional pressures identified by CMFT due to underfunded staff employment, services have been cut by £770 000.Manchester City Council and CMFT have chosen to cut the Family Nurse Partnership without consulting staff members or service users.

Help take Action

A protest has been organised by UNITE the union against cuts to the service on

Wednesday 30th November between 8.30-10.00 outside the town hall.

This protest is timed to link up with a council meeting that morning in order to raise public awareness of this cut and also to ask the Council to reconsider their decision.

A petition set up by UNITE the Union gained over 1000 signatures in less than a week

highlighting the public outcry to this decision.

Further information about the service and impact of the cuts

FNP is an evidence based programme delivered by specially trained nurses to first-time

young mothers under the age of 20. The Family Nurse Partnership has been

commissioned in Manchester for 10 years, and aims to improve antenatal outcomes,

child development and mother's self-efficacy. Family nurses work intensively with

young parents until the child is two, delivering a programme aimed to improve the

aspirations for young parents and their children. Evidence identifies that teenage

mothers often have low psychological and economic support which can act as a barrier

to effective parenting. Many of the clients have complex lives with a significant

occurrence of mental health problems, low educational attainment, learning difficulties,

domestic abuse and safeguarding issues.

Despite these issues Family Nurses have an excellent track record of being able to

access and work with this varied group of people. The services provides evidenced

improvements in the outcomes for children which include improvements in school

readiness, which in turn will improve the life chances of some of the most vulnerable

children in our city.

Theresa May put fighting inequalities first on her list of burning injustices to address in

her Maiden Speech. At the same time as passing on unfair cuts to local public services

that reinforce inequality.

Sir Richard Leese, leader of Manchester City Council, has also highlighted the need for prevention of problems, instead of tackling them reactively. This programme is one such early intervention preventative programme and the service saves money: for each £1 invested in the programme, society gains an evidenced £1.94 in the long term.

The Government recovers the costs of the programme by age 12, from

welfare savings alone. The Government saves money from FNP through increased

employment, welfare savings, reductions in crime, and child protection. There are many

other non-monetary benefits such as improved child emotional development, mental

health and well-being, improved child cognitive and language development, improved

parenting, increased breastfeeding, less domestic abuse as victim and perpetrator,

reduced maternal and child substance abuse, improved maternal mental health,

improved child physical, psychomotor and neurological development and avoidance of

foster placements.

Decommissioning this service will be detrimental in affecting the health, wellbeing and

life chances of both the parents and children. Of further concern is that Manchester City

Council has stated an intention to commission an enhanced service, but have not said

when or what this will be. Any new service would not have the backing of 30 years of


Family Nurses made a commitment to working with clients for a period of two and a half

years. A strong focus is put onto the importance of the therapeutic relationship between

clients and their nurses. Cutting this programme abruptly half way through treatment

could have a negative impact on many vulnerable families in Manchester.

The 1001 critical days is the UK's first cross party children's Manifesto commits to

investing in services that work with families from conception until the child is two, such

as the Family Nurse Partnership. Cutting this service is in breach of this commitment.

The Family Nurse Partnership is upheld in Greater Manchester Social Care Early Years

Strategy as a successful evidence based programme that intervenes early, preventing

further costs in the future. Manchester City Council's decision to cut this service is in

direct opposition to this joint strategy and leads to further inequities between areas of

Greater Manchester.

This service is about investing in the future, and the wellbeing and outcomes of those

who through no fault of their own find themselves on the margins of society. In the long

term cutting this service is not an effective cost saving.

First 1001 critical days of a child's life.

The UK's first cross-party children's manifesto identified a commitment to the first 1001

critical days of a child's life. This is because the evidence is overwhelmingly strong that

this period of time from conception till a child's second birthday is crucial in making a

difference to outcomes for the rest of that child's life. Ensuring that the brain achieves its

optimum development and nurturing during this peak period of growth is vitally

important, and enables babies to achieve the best start in life. From birth to age 18

months, connections in the brain are created at a rate of one million per second! Early

experiences shape a baby’s brain development and have a lifelong impact on mental

and emotional health. A foetus or baby exposed to toxic stress can have their

responses to stress (cortisol) distorted in later life. This early stress can come from the

mother suffering from symptoms of depression or anxiety, having a bad relationship with

her partner, or an external trauma such as bereavement. Attachment is the bond

between a baby and its caregiver/s. There is longstanding evidence that a baby’s social

and emotional development is strongly affected by the quality of their attachment.

Keith Hutson is available for interviews, briefings and written comment


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