Interview - Andrea Leadsom MP

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Andrea Leadsom MP for South Northamptonshire and founder of the Northamptonshire Parent Infant Partnership (NorPIP).

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NorPIP provides psychotherapeutic support for families and babies. Andrea is hosting a NorPIP conference on 18 May in Northamptonshire, 'The Social Consequences of Poor Infant Attachment: Two is too late.'

She is deputy chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Sure Start.

What is the background to NorPIP?

I was involved as a chair of OxPIP for nine years, the model for NorPIP. I had post-natal depression with my first son. I had a successful career in finance, but I was knocked sideways, and I felt helpless and hopeless. So I have a huge interest in what happens (with early attachment) and why.

I helped OxPip develop a business plan and we got a three-year grant from the Lottery. Now that we are well established, we raise half our funding from grants and fundraising. We have lots of contracts with children's centres and local authorities throughout Oxfordshire and support 600-1,000 families a year. I set up NorPIP in 2010. It's a social enterprise model.

Who uses PIPs and how are they funded?

I firmly believe PIPs should be universal, in the same way as the NHS. We have self-referrals, for example mothers with post-natal depression, which can have a profound effect on bonding with baby. Psychotherapy can really help turn this around. Mothers have support from midwives and health visitors, but they focus on the physical side and not on attachment. Things would need to get really bad before you would be referred to a statutory service, such as CAMHS. A PIP is somewhere where health visitors and midwives can refer mothers to. We also have referrals from health visitors and GPs and from social services.

At OxPip we ask for a financial contribution based on earnings. It's a bit like an honesty box - people tick what they earn. One reason we do this is to reduce non-attendance rates and some amount of financial contribution makes people value it.

What is your vision for PIPs?

I always wanted PIPs to be national. What I’m announcing at the conference is PIP UK. We have raised £1m so far for PIP UK through philanthropic donations. The idea is that if you want to set up a PIP in your area, you can go to your local authority and ask if it will co-fund the PIP for a minimum of three years.

I really want MPs to get involved to set up PIPs in their areas. PIP UK will provide a business consultant, a temporary website, contracts for therapists, and training for parent infant psychotherapists. I don’t want it to be too prescriptive, so it would be up to individual PIPs to choose how they run themselves. My ideal would be that PIPs would operate out of the children’s centre network.

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