Helping new parents and their babies to flourish at Hampshire libraries

Hampshire parents who have recently welcomed a baby into their lives are invited to meet and connect with other new parents and carers at dedicated drop-in sessions in local libraries

May 17 2024

New Parents Meet and Connect is a free weekly event at selected libraries across the county, specifically for parents and carers with newborns. The friendly sessions offer an ongoing opportunity for mutual support while parents take part in baby-friendly play and activities with their children. The County Council is providing this support to families as part of its Public Health responsibilities for improving the health of local people.

Councillor Liz Fairhurst, Hampshire County Council’s Executive Lead Member for Adult Social Care and Public Health said: “While becoming a new parent is an exciting time, it can also be quite overwhelming. Being able to meet people in the same situation can help new parents feel supported and less isolated. I would encourage all new parents to come along to one of the drop-in sessions at our libraries and spend some time getting to know other parents and sharing their experiences.”

We know the first 1001 days of life is an important time for development, from research carried out by the County Council. The quality of parent/carer interactions with babies during this period profoundly shapes a child's cognitive growth. However, loneliness and isolation can undermine a parent’s wellbeing and potentially impact their child’s development. Peer-to-peer support, like New Parents Meet and Connect, can help tackle loneliness and enable parents to get any help they may need.

New Parents Meet and Connect is one of two pilot health schemes being delivered through the Library Service that aim to support new families. The second, called First Words Together, supports babies - from birth up to their second birthday - with speech, language and communication development. Parents who feel they need help developing their own and their baby’s communication skills can refer themselves on to this scheme using the request form, by email, or by speaking to an Early Years specialist.

Hampshire County Council's Executive Member for Education, Councillor Steve Forster, said: “Our libraries are about so much more than borrowing books - they serve as vital hubs within our communities, offering essential services and support. Libraries provide a warm and welcoming environment where people feel valued and supported, which makes them ideal for hosting family health schemes like these.”

Visit the Hampshire Libraries website for more information about ‘New Parents Meet and Connect’ and other support for parents with babies and toddlers.