The MMHA joins UNICEF UK and other charities calling for a National Baby and Toddler Guarantee

Posted By: Amy Tubb

11th July 2023

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  • 83 charities, experts in early childhood development, UNICEF Ambassadors and high-profile supporters, convened by the UK Committee for UNICEF (UNICEF UK) have signed an open letter to Prime Minister Rishi Sunak calling for better support for new parents and their babies.
  • The Maternal Mental Health Alliance (MMHA) and several member organisations are among the signatories of the letter, which demands that all parents can access vital services to support themselves and their babies – regardless of where they live in the UK.
  • More than 50,000 members of the UK public have signed UNICEF UK’s petition so far, which supports the call for a Baby and Toddler Guarantee.

UNICEF and over 80 other charities, including the MMHA, together with experts in early childhood development, UNICEF Ambassadors and high-profile supporters have called on the UK Government to commit to a National Baby and Toddler Guarantee, which would help families with babies and young children across the UK access vital care.

Basic services like health visits and mental health care provide essential support that households need during these turbulent times.

Jon Sparkes, Chief Executive of UNICEF UK

MMHA members NSPCC, The Institute of Health Visiting, and more are among the charities that have signed an open letter to Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, led by UNICEF UK, urging him to ensure the government takes urgent action to support families that are struggling. This includes maternityhealth visiting, and mental health support.

The letter says:

‘Families in Britain need your help now. Summer holidays are just around the corner and instead of looking forward to fun-packed, carefree days, many families are faced with the worrying reality of not being able to put food on the table[1] as they struggle to make ends meet.

‘The latest Government data shows that child poverty in the UK has increased by 300,000 in a year, bringing the latest estimate to a staggering 4.2 million[2] – but behind these figures are real children and families. Last year, the UK Committee for UNICEF (UNICEF UK) polled parents of children aged 0-4 years and 66% told us that the cost-of-living crisis has negatively impacted them as they struggle to afford food, pay their bills and cope with increasing childcare costs[3]. To compensate, many said they are having to cut back on buying books, toys, and other items for their children.

‘Basic support services like maternity care, health visits, mental health support, affordable and high-quality childcare and support for Special Educational Needs and Disability (SEND), can offer a vital lifeline to parents at this crucial time in their children’s lives – especially when they’re struggling financially.

‘We know that with reduced funds and prices rising, Local Authorities have been forced to make impossible choices[4]. Across the country, children’s centres and childcare settings have closed their doors, health visiting appointments have been missed as staffing has reduced and caseloads increased, mental health support for parents and children is hard to come by, waiting lists are long and provision is patchy across the sector[5]. The universal services that many new parents desperately need are not there for everyone.’

The accompanying petition from UNICEF UK already has more than 50,000 public signatures, showing how urgent this issue is for new parents and young families.

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