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Highlights from the POWS annual report

20th June 2014

Our Annual Report for the Pregnancy Outreach Service (POWS) is out this week, so we’ve put together a quick overview of some of the report highlights.

We are really proud of the way our Pregnancy Outreach Workers support families across the city.

The mums and their families are from really diverse backgrounds, with a wide range of social and economic problems – but, with the help of a POW, many of them are living healthier, happier lives.

Ethnic diversity

35 languagesThe 855 women who were referred to our services came from a very broad range of ethnic groups. The main ethnicities were Pakistani (221 women), white British (132) and African (88).

In total, our clients speak 35 languages including Yoruba, Dari, Lingala and Tigrian. Four clients gave their main language as British Sign Language.

Identifying the social risk factors in Birmingham

Gateway’s Pregnancy Outreach Service was originally set up with the aim of helping to reduce infant mortality in Birmingham. We do this by trying to reduce the risks associated with a poor pregnancy.

Some of the risk factors that we measure are things that we can’t do anything about – like the age of the mother, or the fact that she is a care leaver. But some risk factors – the social barriers like unsuitable accommodation, or low income – are things that we can address. So these are the factors we measure and that our POWs work towards reducing.

A reduction of the social risk factors leads to improved heath, which in turn helps to reduce infant mortality.

Here are the top ten social risk factors that we identified with our clients over the last year:

Low income, lack of support, unsuitable accommodation
The biggest risks by far are those associated with social isolation. Things like a lack of support from friends and family, or a language barrier.

But accommodation issues are also very high on the list. That’s why three of our most experienced Pregnancy Outreach Workers (POWs) have been working with Birmingham City Council for the last six months as Support Workers to the Temporary Accommodation team.

referrals_vvsmYou can read more about our Temporary Accommodation Support Workers in the blog post POWS help Birmingham families out of B&Bs.

Referrals and areas covered

Most women are referred to the POW service by their midwife, but many are referred by the POWs when they work with other agencies, including children’s centres and community organisations. Some refer themselves.

Referrals come from wards across Birmingham, with the highest number of clients coming from the Aston and Sparkbrook wards.

In eight areas, we run a teens-only service, but still receive a relatively high number of referrals.


Figures for this year again show that women are more likely to breastfeed – and to continue breastfeeding – with the support of a POW.
The national average is 79% and regional figures in the wards we cover are generally much lower than that.

This year, the POWs’ breastfeeding total is even higher than last year’s.

We think that support from a Pregnancy Outreach Worker results in an increased likelihood of a woman breastfeeding for three main reasons:

  • Practical advice and training before the birth
  • The POW can be there immediately after the birth, even in the hospital
  • Introducing clients to more support networks

We wrote about breastfeeding support, and the reasons a POW can help, in last year’s blog post Gateway POWs: breastfeeding figures are up again.

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