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Healthy Cities 21st Century

Creating Supportive Environments for Breastfeeding

Health Literacy

Organisation: 
Belfast City Council / Public Health Agency
Date of Project: 
September 2014 - March 2015
Geography of Project: 
Belfast City Council
Keywords: 
breastfeeding, families, mothers, babies
Aim, Background, What Happened: 

The vision for the 2013-2023 Breastfeeding Strategy for Northern Ireland (DHSSPS 2013) is that “Breastfeeding is the social and biological norm, and mothers will be supported to give their babies a good start in life."

Within the Strategy the Key Strategic Outcome 1 is Supportive environments for breastfeeding exist throughout Northern Ireland.

In support of breastfeeding families Belfast City Council (BCC) approached the Public Health Agency (PHA) to seek support to implement the PHA ‘Breastfeeding Welcome Here Scheme’ across council facilities. Information from PHA was presented to the Council’s Woman’s Steering Group.

The Council’s Woman’s Steering Group is made up of female Councillors and female senior officers; during this time it was chaired by Councillor Bernie Kelly. The Steering Group fully supported the initiative and a report was then taken to the Council’s Corporate Management Team in February 2014.

The proposal to join the scheme was then presented to the Strategic Policy and Resources Committee and subsequently approved by Council. Following this the PHA provided a presentation to BCC managers to inform them of the approach needed to cascade information to staff and deal with any queries.  The PHA responded to a request to develop a FAQ’s sheet which was designed to meet the needs of BCC. This FAQ’s sheet was further developed by BCC and tested with relevant managers and front line staff. Thereafter it was sent out by the BCC Health Equity Project Officer.  The Chairman of the Strategic Policy and Resources Committee signed the scheme agreement and Phase 1 was rolled out.

Phase 1 consisted of:

  • Informing staff who work in the allocated public buildings about the scheme criteria and their responsibilities
  • Providing information and discussing the implications associated with becoming members of the PHA Welcome Here Scheme
  • Identifying the buildings – these included the 10 BCC Leisure Centres, 22 BCC Community Centres, Belfast City Hall, Belfast Waterfront, Ulster Hall and Belfast Zoo
Context of Community or Target Group: 

During Phase 1 of the ‘Breastfeeding Welcome Here Scheme’ 10 BCC Leisure Centres and 22 BCC Community Centres were involved.

Life expectancy values for Northern Ireland as a whole are 76.8 years for males and 81.4 for females.[1] Life expectancy is lowest in three Belfast constituencies (West, North and East). In Belfast West, the life expectancy of males (72.3 years) is four and one half years less than the Northern Ireland average (76.8), while the life expectancy of females (78.4) is three years lower than the regional average (81.4). Northern Ireland Multiple Deprivation Measure indicates that 26 of the top 20% most deprived areas are in Belfast Local Government District.[2]

The scheme encourages breastfeeding by making it acceptable and accessible in Council buildings used by the public. Breastfeeding rates on hospital discharge ranges from 11% in the most deprived areas to 77% in the least deprived. Those least likely to breastfeed include young mothers and women on low income.

Involvement of BCC in supporting breastfeeding will help to contribute to increasing breastfeeding rates in NI which are the lowest in the UK.


[1] Northern Ireland Assembly (2012) Research and Information Service Briefing Paper: Health Inequalities in Northern Ireland by Constituency  http://www.niassembly.gov.uk/globalassets/documents/raise/publications/2...

[2]NINIS (2010) Northern Ireland Multiple Deprivation Measure 2010 Indicator Definitions http://www.ninis2.nisra.gov.uk/public/Theme.aspx?themeNumber=137&themeNa...

 

Influences on Case Study: 

Breastfeeding Strategy for Northern Ireland 2013-2023

PHA Breastfeeding Welcome Here Scheme

Policy and Other Problems: 

A ‘Breastfeeding Welcome Here Scheme’ factsheet was produced to provide support to staff facilitating the introduction of the scheme in BCC buildings. Following the initial introduction of the factsheet concerns were raised on the purpose of the scheme. The factsheet was amended to give greater detail on the scheme objectives and organisational support of the scheme.

Prior Experience with Health Literacy Across Sectors: 

BCC provides Plain English training and use these principles when developing website content and literature.  This approach was considered within the promotion of the ‘Breastfeeding Welcome Here Scheme’.

The project was delivered in partnership with the PHA, across council operated sites with staff, councillors and members of the public.

Concept of Health and Health Literacy: 

The scheme will result in increased awareness of the benefits of breastfeeding which is hoped will lead to an increase in the numbers of new mum’s breastfeeding.  The health benefits that this will provide for both the mums and babies will lead to a reduction in diseases such as Type 2 Diabetes, Cancer, Osteoporosis and allergies, all of which can reduce quality of life.

Health Literacy was considered in projects rolled out by the Health Equity Project BCC and Health Improvement PHA.

Prioritisation of Issue: 

BCC and PHA are committed to promoting the scheme, which enhances the vision of the Breastfeeding Strategy for Northern Ireland (DHSSPS 2013-2023).

Formal Processes: 

PHA will undertake to monitor scheme compliance and BCC will continue to raise awareness and use internal quality assurance to ensure women are supported to breastfeed in Belfast.

The programme has received support from the Woman’s Group BCC, Corporate Management Team, Strategic Policy and Resources Committee and BCC management.

Availability of Resources: 

Materials associated with the scheme (window stickers, certificates, fact sheet and posters) were provided by PHA and sent out to all venues to be displayed in each facility.

Line managers briefed staff about the scheme at team meetings.

Capacity-Building Activities: 

The scheme will result in increased awareness of the benefits of breastfeeding which is hoped will lead to an increase in the numbers of new mums breastfeeding. The health benefits that this will provide for both the mums and babies will lead to a reduction in diseases such as Type 2 Diabetes, Cancer, Osteoporosis and allergies, all of which can reduce quality of life.

Line managers presented information on the scheme at team meetings, a factsheet on breastfeeding was provided with key messages and Frequently Asked Questions.

Social Mechanisms: 

The scheme was advertised in cafes and council buildings. Promotion of the scheme was also conducted through on BCC internal website, Facebook posts and tweets, all very positive and welcomed.

Acceptability: 

Programme received support from BCC’s Woman’s Steering Group, Corporate Management Team, Strategic Policy and Resources Committee and BCC management team.

The feedback from members of the public received through Councillors and social media regarding this campaign was extremely positive.

BCC is supporting the implementation of the Breastfeeding Strategy by participating in the PHA ‘Breastfeeding Welcome Here Scheme’ and helping to create supportive environments for breastfeeding.

To encourage breastfeeding by making it acceptable and accessible in Council buildings used by the public. Breastfeeding rates on hospital discharge ranges from 11% in the most deprived areas to 77% in the least deprived. Those least likely to breastfeed include young mothers and women on low income.

Involvement of BCC in supporting breastfeeding will help to contribute to increasing breastfeeding rates in NI which are the lowest in the UK.

BCC supports giving the child the best start in life and for the public the fact that BCC; inclusive of Councillors, supported breastfeeding and the reassurance to mothers, who required it.

Feasiblity: 

By participating in the PHA ‘Breastfeeding Welcome Here Scheme’ BCC is supporting the implementation of the Breastfeeding Strategy by creating supportive environments for breastfeeding.

PHA provided a factsheet which was tailored to meet the needs of BCC staff involved in the scheme implementation. Interviews were conducted with frontline staff in some BCC buildings to ascertain the information required to ensure they felt confident to comply with scheme criteria.

The continuous support from BCC Councillors made the project feasible.

Sustainability: 

BCC is currently planning Phase 2 membership of the Breastfeeding Welcome Here Scheme. It is envisaged this will include the remaining BCC buildings open to the general public - St Georges Market, Smithfield Market, Malone House, Belfast Castle, Botanic Gardens and Belfast Welcome Centre.  A plan to take this forward will be developed. It is hoped this second phase will be rolled out before the end of December 2014. The scheme has been established in 46 buildings.

Other Comments / Information: 

BCC’s participation in the scheme is highlighted at all relevant meetings and events.

Headline Message(s): 

Belfast City Council support mothers to give their babies a good start in life.

Evaluation: 

An evaluation of the project was completed by the Public Health Agency.

Further Information: 

Belfast City Council: Breastfeeding-friendly scheme:
http://www.belfastcity.gov.uk/News/News-42749.aspx

Public Health Agency: Breastfeeding welcome here scheme:
http://www.publichealth.hscni.net/publications/breastfeeding-welcome-here-good-mums-babies-and-your-business

BreastFedBabies:
http://www.breastfedbabies.org/

DHSSPS: Breastfeeding - A Great Start A Strategy for Northern Ireland 2013-2023
https://www.dhsspsni.gov.uk/publications/breastfeeding-strategy

For further information please contact Anne McCusker at Belfast Healthy Cities anne@belfastheatlhycities.com or 028 9032 8811.