Evaluating the impact of befriending for pregnant asylum seeking and refugee women
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KeywordsPregnancy; Pregnant asylum-seekers; Pregnant refugee women; Health; Maternity care; Befriending
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Pregnant asylum-seeking and refugee women are a particularly vulnerable group in society, who may be possibly living alone in poverty in inappropriate accommodation (Dunne, 2007) and experiencing hostile attitudes (Hynes and sale, 2010). They may have poor physical and mental health, placing them at an increased risk of poor pregnancy outcomes (National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE), 2010). Despite this, they are less likely to attend for timely maternity care. This article discusses the evaluation to date of an ongoing befriending project located in Northern england, targeting pregnant asylum-seeking and refugee women and helping to address difficulties that they may face. Volunteer befrienders, who themselves are asylum-seeking and refugee mothers, receive training to provide support and guidance to clients. Preliminary data suggest that befriending has advantages for both client and volunteer: clients appear to develop a trusting relationship with their befriender which facilitates self-confidence and helps overcome social isolation; and the volunteers feel that they are undertaking a worthwhile role and often move onto paid employment. Befriending may be a useful resource for midwives and ultimately improve pregnancy outcomes for asylum-seeking and refugee women.