More about NEWPIN
Patron (2022): Penelope Leach CBE
‘I think the kids would be dead now if I hadn’t come to NEWPIN.’ Mother
What help is there for parents at their wits’ end? Who is there to give long-term support? Who can transform their lives and save their young children from physical and emotional harm? Who can provide the right sort of service to ensure that the parents don’t end up dead, or in prison or psychiatric hospital, and the children in care?
NEWPIN, New Parent Infant Network, can. The first NEWPIN centre opened in south London in 1982. Anne Jenkins, a health visitor, knew that what she could offer to distraught families was nowhere near enough. The service she developed is described by a NEWPIN co-ordinator in Australia as ‘the most unique, special, effective, empowering, life-changing, authentic change programme for families in the world.’ John Bowlby was ‘a great fan.’ And a mother who went through it calls it ‘a miracle.’
Just suppose you are a mother or father with at least one child under five, who is finding life impossibly difficult. You feel depressed or anxious most of the time. Your relationships with your children, partner, if you have one, maybe your own parents, are fractured and always have been. You probably didn’t have the best childhood yourself. You can’t bond securely with your kids. You hate yourself and sometimes everyone else too. You’re in daily despair with no idea what to do or where to turn.
Then you hear about NEWPIN. You meet the co-ordinator to discuss if you want to change and are willing to involve yourself about twice a week for a year or two in a challenging programme. You decide to give it a go. One of the regular members becomes your befriender, visits you and accompanies you to the centre, and helps you settle in. You find the other parents and the staff welcoming, kind and in no way seeming to judge you. Your child gets used to the playroom, makes friends and finds respite from tensions at home, while you relax and have a cuppa in the living room with the other members who seem to take a genuine, understanding interest in you. This is a new experience.
The challenging programme
Once you’ve settled, in a few weeks’ or months’ time, you join two regular activities: the therapeutic support group, run by a group analyst, and the personal development programme, where you learn more about every aspect of life as a parent. The co-ordinator is probably a woman who needed NEWPIN herself and now has a paid position: you never sense she’s looking down at you. For the first time you find yourself expressing your feelings and revealing your vulnerabilities, your history, your day-to-day struggles without anyone being shocked or critical. In fact, all the others have their own, often similar, stories. You no longer feel isolated or hopeless. Your self-esteem and confidence grow. You gain insight into why you find life so difficult as you recount your earlier experiences; and in the playroom you learn, with the play facilitator, how to play with your child and develop a healthy attachment. If you feel the need for one-to-one counselling, it’s provided. There’s a 24-hour helpline.
Once you’re happier, more stable, able to relate well to others, you can be allocated a new member and become a befriender yourself. Perhaps in time you could train to be a NEWPIN co-ordinator. You see a positive future, maybe through further education or vocational training. NEWPIN guides you while you find what’s right for you. You emerge as someone who appreciates and understands herself and her children, and the enormous gift that NEWPIN has given.
NEWPIN in the UK and Australia
Flourishing NEWPINs operate in Derry (Northern Ireland) and Westminster (London.) There are also some part-time centres in Wandsworth (London.) There is a growing number in Australia.
The urgent need for more NEWPINs
The Covid pandemic has seen a dramatic increase in domestic violence, isolation, and the neglect and abuse of children. This makes it all the more vital to provide a NEWPIN centre everywhere for those parents who are able and willing to engage with it. Moreover, NEWPIN saves huge amounts of future public money and personal tragedy. As a parent and a psychotherapist, I know how hard it can be to be a ‘good enough’ parent and was privileged to help set up a Newham NEWPIN in 1992. I now want to press, with others, for the establishment of many more.
‘What sticks out about NEWPIN from all the other places we send people to is that it works.’ Social worker
To learn more
If you would like to know more, or might even be interested in helping to set up a centre, do get in touch. The booklet The Miracle of NEWPIN is available from the address below for £5 including postage (please make cheque payable to Ros Kane or pay into 08 90 76 11000015)
Ros Kane, 15 Matcham Road, London E11 3LE