PAIRS wins AiMH UK Together Team Award

LEAP's Parent and Infant Relationship Service (PAIRS) gets recognition for its dedication to the emotional needs of infants and their families.

The Association for Infant Mental Health hosted its AiMH Awards for 2023 this afternoon. Of the five awards on offer, PAIRS came top in the AiMH Together category — an award for a team working to make a significant contribution to meet the emotional needs of infants in their community.

Members of the team have remained strong and adaptable throughout changing times. They've consistently focused on building local capacity and embedding the service within a wider package of support for families.

Attending the ceremony, LEAP's Director, Laura McFarlane, praised the service, emphasising its importance:

"So delighted for our LEAP PAIRS team — winners of the AiMH UK Together team award today. This is well deserved recognition of the team's hard work in building an infant mental health team in Lambeth and keeping babies, young children and their parents and carers in full view. Well done to you all."

PAIRs team member, and Child and Adolescent Psychoanalytic Psychotherapist, Ben Yeo, welcomed the accolade and was eager to congratulate the other services they work alongside:

"We are delighted to be recognised for our therapeutic work with LEAP babies and parents, and for supporting Lambeth practitioners to see the world through babies’ eyes.

"No single service can meet the complex needs of families in the perinatal period, so this is also an award for the wider multiagency workforce in LEAP and South London and Maudsley NHS Trust. Let’s continue to build a team around the parent-infant relationship."

PAIRS team showing off the AiMH Award

The PAIRS team showing off the AiMH Together Award.

AiMH UK was founded in 1996 as a not-for-profit organisation. It was the first organisation in the UK to bring together the many different professionals working with infants and their families.

Serving highly diverse, deprived areas

As part of the National Lottery Community Fund’s A Better Start initiative, LEAP has commissioned PAIRS since 2016 to understand and respond to the experiences of families from communities that have been historically under-served. These diverse areas cover approximately 20% of Lambeth, where two-thirds of children live in very deprived neighbourhoods.

PAIRS helps families overcome challenges that can affect how they bond with their little ones. It provides both group and one-to-one support through parent-infant psychotherapy, video-based interventions, and therapeutic groups. The service tackles issues that many families will encounter without experience or support, including:

  • Attachment and bonding difficulties
  • Birth trauma
  • Separation difficulties
  • Ongoing issues with feeding and sleep
  • Worry about the infant’s health and development

Situated within Lambeth child and adolescent mental health services, PAIRS is part of South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust (SLaM).

Meeting social and emotional needs across the borough

Analysis in 2021/22 found that, after families received one-to-one support from PAIRS, fewer children had observed difficulties with day-to-day activities, family relationships had improved, and no families had disordered/dangerous parent-infant relationships.

PAIRS has built partnerships and developed the children’s workforce in Lambeth — delivering training, reflective supervision and consultation spaces, and offering consultation to Lambeth practitioners. The service undertakes regular outreach in children’s centres, developing rapport with families and relationships with staff.

PAIRS has pioneered Circle of Security Parenting (COSP) in Lambeth. Now the team is training and supporting practitioners to co-deliver Together Time (baby-led play and bonding with other parents) across the borough as part of Lambeth’s Start for Life offer.

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