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Strengths in Communities CIC (trading as Parents 1st) was established in 2008 with a vision to develop effective and sustainable Volunteer Community Parent Programmes in disadvantaged communities. Using community development and drawing on an extensive evidence base, our Community Parent peer-to-peer programmes aims to transform care for vulnerable parents through pregnancy, childbirth and early parenting. We are a national development agency that supports new Community Parent Programmes delivered by other grass roots organisations, and also a local delivery organisation in that we directly deliver a local “Pregnancy Pal and Birth Buddy” volunteer programme in South Essex (Basildon – including Laindon; Thurrock; and Canvey Island).


Our volunteer Pregnancy Pals and Birth Buddies in South Essex are mothers, fathers, grandparents or carers who have particular personal qualities and life experience. They are ambassadors for their communities and are drawn from the same areas as the expectant and new parents they support.  They establish trusting peer relationships as early as possible during pregnancy and offer a continuum of focused, strengths-based, relational support throughout pregnancy, during labour and birth if needed, and onto early family life.


Parents 1st is dedicated to promoting confident parenting, health and wellbeing in less advantaged communities. The heart of our work is ‘bridging the gap’ between more isolated or vulnerable parents and professionals services. We achieve this by harnessing help from within, building on the skills of experienced and trustworthy parents who live in these communities. Our passion is promoting community owned and effective peer support programmes that are delivered by and for local parents.


There is also a “Friends of” registered charity called ‘Parents 1st South Essex’ (Charity registration 8821388 Dec 2013) that supports the programme operating in South Essex which is run entirely by volunteers and governed by a separate body of Trustees.

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