Advocacy & Research
Through advocacy and research, we seek to understand and dismantle the systemic inequalities that lead to poorer birth and parenting outcomes and experiences
Our advocacy and research efforts over the past year demonstrate an increasing sense of responsibility to amplify the experiences of our clients as a powerful catalyst for change. Our activities also signal a growing awareness of our work, with a rising number of requests to participate in advisory roles and academic research.
Over the past year, our research and advocacy activities were focused on:
Tackling disparities in perinatal care
We have established strong links with senior management within Greater Glasgow & Clyde’s maternity services, public health improvement bodies, and the Equalities Team. We regularly raise issues of concern and advocate for changes aimed at addressing disparities in perinatal care.
- In December last year, we shared our monitoring of interpreter issues with the Equalities Team and a senior charge midwife. In both Glasgow hospitals, maternity assessment staff thought it was not possible to use telephone interpreters which resulted in clients not being able to communicate their issues by phone. The Equalities Team agreed to offer training to this department as well as labour ward staff.
- Following issues we raised about the use of the ‘red pathway’ (the highest risk classification for pregnancies) based on social reasons, the Special Needs in Pregnancy Team offered to do an audit of cases as an exercise for their obstetric students. This process is underway.
- We were commissioned by the Equalities Team to take part in its maternity services review. This will involve testing a new maternity approach to patient engagement and provide input into other projects. This work is ongoing.
Research collaboration with Durham University
In December 2022, we began collaborating with the Durham University Infancy & Sleep Centre on a research project focused on understanding the experiences of infant care within temporary Home Office accommodation. Research will be conducted by six community researchers, drawing on the lived experiences of Amma’s clients. The project will culminate with a report that will be used as an advocacy and influencing tool.
City of Sanctuary Steering Group
After being awarded Maternity Service of Sanctuary status in June 2022, we joined the City of Sanctuary Maternity Stream steering group. The purpose of this group is to increase awareness of the issues facing migrant women accessing maternity services at a national level.
In March 2023, we facilitated a visit from Dr. Helen Ball, Director of the Durham Infancy & Sleep Centre, to McLays Hotel, where she gathered evidence from several mothers and families about their experiences of hotel accommodation. This visit was commissioned by the Children and Young People’s Commissioner’s Office as part of a developing legal challenge around the unsuitability of hotel accommodation for babies/children.
‘Finding Your Voice’ workshop
In March 2023, trustees, Vongayi Mufara and Comfort Anjorin, worked alongside academic researchers, Sarah Shemery and Dr. Lucy Lowe, to develop a ‘Finding your Voice’ research and advocacy workshop for clients. The focus was on helping clients understand the value of this work and how they can contribute, with an emphasis on feeling empowered to self-advocate. The goal of this was to develop an ‘Experts by Experience’ group.
In February 2023, we joined the MAMAH Study steering group. The MAMAH Study is led by Dr. Kerrie Stevenson, who was awarded doctoral fellowship funding from UCL to identify clinical and policy interventions to improve maternity care for underserved migrant women in the UK. Our role in the steering group will be to provide input on the progress and direction of the MAMAH study and to ensure the study’s research and outputs are directly relevant to the work of the stakeholders represented.
In the past year, we delivered two lectures focused on caring for pregnant people in the asylum process to midwifery students at Robert Gordon University and the University of the West of Scotland. We discussed everything from medical racism to intersectionality to human rights in childbirth and were pleased to engage in such open and honest conversation with these aspiring midwives.
In May 2023, we attended the International Day of the Midwife celebrations at the University ofthe West of Scotland, where we presented about our work to around 200 student midwives.
Over the coming year, our focus will be on the following activities:
Birth Outcomes & Experiences Report
Last year, we began work on the latest version of our Birth Outcomes & Experiences Report. This report will evidence the disparities in care our clients experience and trends we have observed from data collected over the past couple of years. We intend to share this with the NHS and other key decision makers, as well as the wider public.
Amplifying lived experience
We plan to create a new role, Advocacy & Community Engagement Manager, focused on amplifying our clients’ voices and promoting Amma’s work within the community. The new post holder will ideally be someone with lived experience, who will be responsible for leading our ‘Experts by Experience’ group and helping to embed the views and experiences of our clients across every area of our work.
Reducing breastfeeding disparities
We will soon begin working alongside researchers from the University of Edinburgh and a team of experts by experience to launch ‘Nurture Together’ — a project aimed at promoting, supporting, and sustaining breastfeeding amongst individuals who face multiple barriers to accessing support.
Responding to the Illegal Migration Bill
We are deeply concerned about the impact of the Illegal Migration Bill and will continue to advocate against its implementation. Read our full statement here.