Published on: 5 February 2024

A new walking group for mums who are struggling with their mental health has received an award for being the most innovative project of the year within the county’s NHS perinatal (mother and baby) mental health services.

The weekly walking group, organised by staff within the community perinatal mental health team at Derbyshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust, addresses the challenge that some new mothers have where they lack confidence to leave the house and meet other people. The group allows mums to meet in a safe space, without the pressures of sitting in a group, and gives mums the opportunity to walk and talk.

The group organisers help the mums with the practical side of getting up and out and preparing for being out the house. A member of staff offers an initial telephone call to support mums, and provides additional support if mums are wanting to join and their anxieties and worries are holding them back.

The walking group was chosen for the award by a judging panel made up of Experts by Experience (current and former service users) and senior nurses and was presented on 17 January at the annual Perinatal Mental Health Stakeholder Engagement Day, held at the Post Mill Centre in South Normanton. The event was attended by over 70 healthcare professionals and partners from across the county to focus on perinatal mental health. Perinatal mental health problems are those which happen during pregnancy or in the first year following the birth of a child. Perinatal mental illness affects up to 20% of women and covers a wide range of conditions. There may be ongoing mental health issues that a mother may be already aware of, or a period of mental ill health which is triggered during pregnancy or after birth.

The Innovation award was presented at the event to two of the walking group organisers, Peer support worker, Kelia O’Brien and Nursery nurse, Ginette Varty.

Kelia O’Brien said, “The walking group is a great way for mums to receive support from staff and peers. The walk starts from a venue that is easily accessible and offers free parking and toilets. Healthcare professionals are invited along to offer extra support and share their experiences too.

 “Once the course has completed, mums are given a certificate with how many steps they have walked and a list of other outdoor places to try. The group has proven to be so popular that there is often a waiting list to join!”

Other award categories at the stakeholder event were: Excellence in Patient Experience and Involvement Award; Making a Difference Award; and Inclusion Award. (More details on these below.)

Tracey Holtom, the General Manager in charge of Perinatal services at Derbyshire Healthcare, presented the awards on the day and congratulated colleagues who were successfully named as winners and runners up, as well as to all those who were nominated.

Tracey said: “I am delighted to be here today on behalf of the Trust to recognise these colleagues for their dedication and the hard work they consistently give to this invaluable service.”

Mark Powell, Chief Executive at Derbyshire Healthcare said, “I am really pleased that this initiative has been recognised.  There is a national drive for more women to access community perinatal services and our Perinatal team have been undertaking a range of outreach work in recent months to raise awareness.  This event itself provided a great opportunity to celebrate and raise awareness with health professionals and get their feedback on how we can increase access to the service.

The service encourages referrals from professionals working with women who are struggling with their mental health from the end of the first trimester in pregnancy and up to two years postnatally, if a perinatal illness persists. Please contact our Perinatal team on 01332 623911 (Derby) or 01246 216523 (Chesterfield) or email and seek their help and support.”

The full list of award winners at the Perinatal stakeholder event:

The Innovation Award

For an individual, group or team who have gone above and beyond to develop innovative ways of working. This award celebrates quality improvement which has been effective in improving the service and patient experience.

Award winner - Ginette Varty and Kelia O’Brien

Runner up - Shelley Chatten

Excellence in Patient Experience and Involvement Award

For an individual, group or team who have ensured that patients and families remain at the centre of everything we do. This award celebrates working with patients and families as equal partners.

Award winner - Peer Support Workers: Emily Lawrence, Helen Trubridge, Sarah Slack and Kelia O'Brien

Runners up - Natasha Lee and Leesa Jones

Making a Difference Award

For an individual, group or team who have made a significant and unique difference to others. This award celebrates dedication, achievements, and excellence.

Award winner - Charlie Hall

Runners up - Lisa Statham and North Team

Inclusion Award

For an individual, group or team who has promoted equality, diversity and inclusion for patients, staff, or the community. Celebrating those who have put the Trust values into action by respecting and valuing the diversity of all.

Award winner - Emily Lawrence

Runner up - Ali Clarke