COVID-19: TechForce19 Pilot Project Launched to Support New Parents

  • 1,000 people will take part in the two-week pilot which will provide support to parents who are even more isolated during the coronavirus outbreak
  • Through their smartphone, they can access trusted, reliable information from perinatal and mental health experts, including video support with breastfeeding and baby sleep
  • Peppy is one of only 18 companies chosen for this NHSX initiative from over 1,600 entrants to support vulnerable people during Covid-19
  • The pilot project is run in partnership with NCT, the UK’s largest charity for parents and Lactation Consultants of Great Britain (LCGB)

Peppy, a company that provides families with trusted health support, has been awarded funding from TechForce19, an NHSX initiative to trial digital solutions to support vulnerable and isolated people during the coronavirus crisis. Peppy will support parents in the third trimester of pregnancy and with young babies, at a stage of life which can be challenging at the best of times, but especially so during the current outbreak and lockdown restrictions.

The pilot is being run in partnership with NCT, the UK’s largest charity for parents and LCGB, a registered charity and the professional body for lactation consultants. The two-week trial will see 1,000 expectant and new parents have remote access to perinatal and mental wellbeing support.

Mridula Pore, CEO and Co-Founder of Peppy, said: “Our founding team are all parents and we’ve all experienced the anxiety that comes with having a newborn and the worries that a quick chat with an expert could easily resolve. In the Covid-19 outbreak, new parents are more isolated and vulnerable than ever. Following a successful pilot project, we want to make this service available to parents across the country throughout this turbulent period. Our digital solution will allow any parent to ask an expert for advice on anything from breastfeeding to mental wellbeing, making it accessible to all and convenient.”

Through the Peppy platform, the two-week trial will provide those in the third trimester of pregnancy and parents of babies up to 12 months old with:

  • Peer-to-peer support through small personalised group chats, moderated by an expert
  • Access to one-to-one chat support with expert practitioners
  • Video consultations for breastfeeding and baby sleep support
  • Unlimited online exercise sessions which are safe, fun and effective

All experts provided to parents through the platform have completed accredited training programmes and meet the requirements of relevant professional bodies.

Angela McConville, NCT’s Chief Executive, added: COVID-19 has turned everyone’s lives upside down and has had a huge impact on pregnant women, their partners and new parents. Becoming a parent can be challenging at the best of times, but the current crisis has led to heightened feelings of anxiety and isolation and very real concern about the care and support that is available. It is essential that we find new and innovative ways to support women and their young families through this crisis. This funding means that our highly valued information and support will be accessible when and where new parents now need it – in the safety of their homes”.

Zoe Faulkner, Chair of Lactation Consultants of Great Britain, commented: “Access to skilled breastfeeding support is crucial for many new families. During this COVID-19 pandemic, the public health impact of breastfeeding and the parent-child relationship are really important. Breastfeeding provides infants with immune protection and food security. The evidence shows that many mothers stopped breastfeeding before they wanted to, often because they couldn’t access the support they needed. When breastfeeding is going well, it enhances a mother’s resilience and mental health. We are excited to work with Peppy and NCT to bring more support right into families’ homes during this very challenging time.”

Lisa, a mum to a six-month-old and three-year-old, said ‘Just got the Peppy app. So far it seems really wonderful and in a league of its own! What I wouldn’t have done for something like this with my first pregnancy and baby!

This pilot project is one of 18 digital solutions to have been selected by TechForce19 from over 1,600 applicants, and it is the only solution targeted at new parents. 

In March, DHSC (Department of Health and Social Care) and MHCLG (Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government) announced that funding would be available to innovators who can find digital ways to support people who need help during the coronavirus outbreak. This ‘TechForce19’ challenge aims to support those who are particularly vulnerable or isolated as a result of the outbreak and need help, including people who need mental health support or who have social care needs.

NHSX has been working with partners PUBLIC and the AHSN Network to run the fast-track competition for innovators, creating a pool of ready to go technologies that have the potential to be rapidly scaled regionally and nationally. 


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