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Project information

Birth Companions

Birth Companions is a unique charity providing support and care to pregnant women and women with new babies who would otherwise be alone and isolated at one of the most important times of their lives – becoming a mother.


Charity information: Birth Companions

Birth Companions logo
  • Need


    We support pregnant women and new mothers in prison and the community. The women we work with face a range of difficulties such as housing Issues, domestic and sexual violence, trafficking, mental health issues, a history of drug and alcohol problems and involvement with social services. What they have in common is isolation and a lack of support which can make being pregnant and having a new baby a time of anxiety and stress instead of the special, happy experience it should be.


    Being pregnant, giving birth and becoming a mother is a life-changing time for a woman. The flexible, compassionate services we offer to women facing severe disadvantage helps them feel more positive about themselves as mothers. Practical and emotional support provides them with a strong basis for parenting, enabling them to give their babies a better start in life. All our services are women led and focus on giving women non judgemental support that they ask us for.

  • Aims

    Aim 1

    Improve the physical and emotional well-being of pregnant women and new mothers.


    » We offer emotional and practical support to women during the perinatal period through group and one to one support in the community and in prison.

    What success will look like

    We gather feedback from the women we work with and ask them to tell us how our support has impacted on their well-being and mental health.

    Aim 2

    Reduce the isolation of pregnant women and new mothers facing severe disadvantage.


    » We help women access local support networks and services as well as facilitating peer support in our groups.

    What success will look like

    We ask the women we work with to tell us about whether they feel our support has helped them to access services, local support networks and the support of other mothers.

    Aim 3

    Enable vulnerable pregnant women & new mothers to give their babies the best possible start in life


    » We give women evidence-based information so they can make positive, informed choices for themselves and their babies with confidence.

    What success will look like

    We will produce Impact and evaluation reports to show the results of our feedback and evaluation processes.

    Aim 4

    Improve conditions for vulnerable pregnant women and new mothers as widely as possible.


    » We commission research to build the evidence base for this area of work; we use our expertise from many years of service delivery to inform practice

    What success will look like

    We take part in and commission research and developing guidelines and training for the care of pregnant women and new mothers in prison. We network to share our expertise.

  • Impact


    In the long term we will improve the mental health and well-being of pregnant women and new mothers facing severe disadvantage, reduce their isolation, and enable them to give their babies the best possible start in life. We aim to improve conditions for pregnant women and new mothers in prison and the community. We gather feedback from the women we work with, and regularly commission research and external evaluations of our work. We will also work to influence national practice and policy.


    Loss of funding would prevent us from supporting women facing severe disadvantage. Robust accounting and budgeting, and active fundraising throughout the year ensures we have the funds to continue to offer our services. All our volunteers undergo extensive training to ensure they can offer appropriate and sensitive support.


    Our Annual Reports and Impact Reports include detailed statistics about the support we have provided with case studies and feedback from the women themselves. We also produce a yearly impact report outlining the demographics of the women we work with and the outcomes they have reported.

  • Budget

    Budget - Project Cost: £445,000

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      Amount Heading Description
      £250,000 Staff and Volunteers Direct work with vulnerable pregnant women, salaries, training and supervision
      £50,000 Admin and Governance Admin, finance, insurance, strategic planning and consultancy
      £145,000 Service User Involvment Service user consultation and peer supporters and research training

    Current Funding / Pledges

    Source Amount
    Big Lottery Women and Girls Initiative £220,563 Guaranteed
    Esmee Fairbairn £40,000 Guaranteed
    Sir Alaistair Pilkington Trust £1,000 Guaranteed
    City and Hackney CCG £7,500 Guaranteed
    The Rayne Foundation £15,000 Guaranteed
    Tampon Tax Fund £30,000 Guaranteed
    Cambridgeshire Community Foundation £4,000 Guaranteed
    London Catalyst £1,500 Guaranteed
  • Background


    Our Community work is based in Greater London. We also offer our services in three prisons - HMP Bronzefield (Slough) and HMP Peterborough (Peterborough) and Fosten Hall (Derbyshire)


    We work with some of the most vulnerable pregnant women and new mothers in prison and in the community in London, Peterborough and Fosten Hall prison. Last year we worked with 230 women and their babies offering them emotional and practical support during their pregnancies, births and early motherhood.

  • Why Us?

    Why Us?

    Our role as an authority in the needs of perinatal women facing severe disadvantage in the community is well-established and growing. Birth Companions is now widely recognised as the UK’s leading expert in the needs of perinatal women in the criminal justice system. Moreover, the frontline work we do with perinatal women at the highest level of vulnerability make Birth Companions expert in their needs and how best to meet them.

    Read more about the Charity running this project.


    Naomi Delap (Director)

    Runs the charity. Work includes fundraising, managing staff and strategic planning.

    Denise Marshall (Head Of Services)

    Oversees all our service delivery, managing volunteers who support women.

    Helen Benson

    Coordinates support to vulnerable women in the community in London

    Abbi Ayers

    Co-ordinates Bronzefield Prison service, targeted antenatal classes in Hackney and breastfeeding support across the organisation

They helped me focus on my baby and the fact that I’m pregnant even though I’m in prison

Helen, Service User