A HEALTH service which supports and advises mums breastfeeding in their East Lancashire homes has been given an international award.

Health Visiting Services in Blackburn with Darwen have been awarded the gold standard baby friendly award by UNICEF and the World Health Organisation.

Lancashire & South Cumbria NHS Foundation Trust, which runs the service as part of its 0 to 19 universal service offer, said the granting of the award, shows that families in the borough can rest assured that the best standards in practice are in place.

Naomi Quinn, from the trust, said: “We’re delighted by this achievement.

“The verbal feedback from UNICEF was that the service is exemplary at a national level.

“This is a fantastic achievement and the team should be very proud of the work they are doing.

“We joined forces with UNICEF UK’s Baby Friendly Initiative and we have been on a journey over the past few years to increase our breastfeeding rates and promote positive, loving relationships in families.

“We know breastfeeding helps massively to protect and improve both the physical and mental health of both mum and baby and so we have prioritised enhancing the skills and knowledge of our staff as well as looking how local communities can get involved.

“We want to ensure the support we provide our families in Blackburn with Darwen is evidence based, of a high quality and families are at the centre of all we do.”

The health visiting services provide parents across the borough with care to build close and loving relationships with their babies and to feed their babies in ways which will best support health and development.

Following assessment by UNICEF, the service was handed the award as a way of recognising that best practice standards are in place.

Set up by UNICEF (the United Nations’ children’s fund) and the World Health Organisation, the baby friendly initiative is a global programme that provides a practical and effective way for health services to improve the care provided for all mothers and babies.

In the UK, the baby friendly initiative works with public services to protect, promote and support breastfeeding, and strengthen mother-baby and family relationships.

East Lancashire Hospitals NHS Trust (ELHT) was the first maternity service in the world to be given the gold award in 2017 in recognition of the advice and support families with new babies in the area receive around nurturing and feeding their babies.

Speaking at the time, Sue Henry, baby friendly lead, at ELHT, said: “Reflecting on what Baby Friendly means to us, in addition to giving us evidence based standards and rising breastfeeding rates, the team gives support, encouragement, direction and importantly belief - a belief that it is possible to change lives, not just by increasing breastfeeding rates but also by enhancing the feeding experience and the closeness felt between a mum and her baby.

“These memories for mums do last forever. We have been able to maintain the standards thanks to the dedicated staff providing expert skills, support and quality care to all our new mums and babies.”