Maternity support worker from London goes ‘above and beyond’ to support local families through cost-of-living crisis

on 22 May 2023 RCM Maternity Services Midwifery Midwives Government Pregnancy Midwifery Workforce Wales

A maternity support worker from London has won a prestigious award by the Royal College of Midwives (RCM) for setting up an innovative support hub to help women and families through the cost-of-living crisis.

Emma Lesley, who works at Lewisham and Greenwich NHS Trust, was presented with an RCM Race Matters Unsung Hero award at a ceremony in London on 19 May. The award is given to honour and celebrate the extraordinary contribution staff from a Black, Asian or Ethnic backgrounds make in supporting women in pregnancy.

The support hub that Emma has set up is a one stop shop where people who need it can access help. It offers families who are struggling with getting clothing and household items as well as help accessing food bank vouchers. According to her colleagues Emma is so dedicated to the people she helps that she often goes above and above and beyond to locate and deliver essential items that local families have struggled to collect or been unable to find for themselves.

Since its creation the support hub has proved an incredible success, says the RCM’s Chief Executive, Gill Walton. “This support hub is only a few months old and it is already helping so many people and families through the current financial crisis. The positive impact this has is almost immeasurable and the hub is literally saving lives.” Gill continued: “Emma’s help finding safe bedding, warm clothing and assistance in accessing essential benefits will immeasurably improve the outcomes for women and babies in ways we cannot imagine. I cannot commend Emma highly enough for creating the hub.”

The feedback from families has been very positive and women and families are already reaping the benefits. A recent example of the hub in action was a woman, pregnant with her fourth child, who was struggling to pay for bills or to understand what benefits she was entitled to. The hub helped her put together a pack of the essentials that she would need, Emma delivered them to her and then explained the benefits that she would be entitled to and how to claim for them.

Commenting on her win Emma said: “At Lewisham, it’s very much a team effort. We don’t just nurture the women and families, we nurture each other. It’s a great job, really rewarding and I’m happy to go to work every day. We just embrace our work family.”

The award was sponsored by BAME Birthing With Colour who commented: “Emma is a most deserving recipient of the Race Matters Unsung Hero Award for Maternity Support Worker or Student Midwife, sponsored by the Birthing And Maternity Education Online Academy. Emma's tireless dedication to improving care, her championing of positive change, and her holistic approach to supporting women, babies, and families exemplify the values and goals of the Birthing And Maternity Education Online Academy. Her selfless work has a profound impact on the health, safety, and wellbeing of so many communities, making her a truly worthy winner of this prestigious award."