THURROCK’S leading community healthcare provider has been recognised for its work with new mums and their babies.

Staff at South West Essex Community Services, which is managed by North East London NHS Foundation Trust and provides services across Thurrock, recently achieved the internationally-recognised UNICEF stage one accreditation.

UNICEF UK’s Baby Friendly Initiative aims to help clinics and healthcare providers improve breastfeeding rates.

Getting to stage three, the highest award, can take several years.

Jill Williamson, who is leading the scheme to encourage more mothers across south west Essex to breastfeed, said: “We are really committed to increasing our breastfeeding rates and want to ensue that our staff have the knowledge and skills to help mums get it right and stick with breastfeeding. This is why we joined the Baby Friendly scheme.”

During the past two years, all staff in contact with new mums have received training so they can support breastfeeding mothers.

Breastfeeding cafes, parent’s drop ins, and yummy mummy groups have also been set up to give new mums a place to get support and information about breastfeeding.

Caroline Ward, head of health and wellbeing,said: “This is fantastic news for us as it means we have the foundations in place to begin to build a first class service where we will be working to support women to breastfeed successfully.”

For more information on breastfeeding support services offered by South West Essex Community Services, go to visit