WATCH: Young Highland families celebrate 10 years of 'amazing' nurse support
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A lifeline service for young parents in Inverness and the Highlands has marked its 10th anniversary with a busy celebration earlier today.
More than 30 families who have been supported by the Highland Family Nurse Partnership (FNP) came from as far as Tain to attend the milestone event.
The programme, which provides extra support to young parents having their first child, has been running in the region since 2013 and has since helped 350.
Jane Park, who is head of health at Highland Council and has been working with the programme since its inception, said: "What we aim to do is support first-time parents in the region with a really intensive family support.
"Over the past ten years we've helped hundreds of families. The children who were born when we first started now are almost in high school!
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"It's really exciting. It's something that the family nurses might follow upon because that's a real milestone for the wee ones moving on into secondary school and their family lives have moved on since then. And they may have well had other children.
"The pressures have always been there for young people and even more so for young parents – but never as tough as it is in a post-pandemic crisis of living context.
"There is difficulty around housing, appointments, and around poverty – these things are all hitting families across the whole of Highland particularly hard.
"Because the FNP is an intensive support, there are many more connections with the family nurses and the family than there are routinely as part of a regular health visiting service. For families involved, there is a lot more support available to them and also based on what the family communicates to the nurse.
"It's also about looking at nurturing the real strengths in the family to help overcome the challenges they face."
The FNP is a Highland Council service, delivered on behalf of the Scottish Government and sponsored by NHS Highland.
The Partnership is an intensive, preventative, one-to-one home visiting programme aimed at improving pregnancy and birth and child health and development as well as family economic stability through developing family visions and realising future plans.
Niamh Fawcett (19) and Adam Tuthill (22) were supported by the FNP with the birth of their first-born, Marcie (2).
The pair, having welcomed their son Teddie six months ago, said the scheme has really helped them in their journey.
Niamh said: "We've had a great experience with the programme. We have regular support and they do check in on how you feel with anxiety and in general how you are feeling
"It's helped me not being as anxious as I would have been in taking the kids out. It has been a lot easier than it would have been without the support."
Adam added: "It helped us through different stages with the baby because we wouldn't have really known about her progression. They are helping us dealing with the stages they are going through."
Emma Macpherson (20), whose daughter Esme was born last year, said:"I've been part of the scheme since May last year.
"The support behind it is amazing. Kirsty, our family nurse, has helped me out a great deal and having loads of support that were needed and at the times they were needed
"I think it would have been a completely different experience without the support. You learn a lot through before an dafter birth. It continues on through. It was interesting to find out a lot of things that I wouldn't have known otherwise.
"You can never be fully prepared for it but it helped me feel more prepared and to feel more confident in what I was doing."
Nurse Beth Gray said: "Helping the families has been a real privilege, we get to visit them regularly throughout pregnancy up till their babies are two. We help them with a wide variety of struggles they might have and support them to build on their strengths."
"The one-to-one support is incredibly important. As we work with younger parents. They have so many challenges in their life and becoming parents for the first time having such a big transition to make and a 1-to1 support helps build a relationship that fosters confidence ad helps us help them."
Hayley Duff, also a family nurse, added: "What we find really rewarding is seeing the confidence building up with time. The goal is for them to become independent and confident parents so it's lovely when we can see the change in them, It's oe of the reasons we do what we do."