Media Release: Midwives move to spot expectant mums at risk of homelessness

A JOINT initiative to help midwives in Scotland spot the warning signs and prevent homelessness amongst pregnant women has been launched.

The training package is being launched by leading housing and homelessness charity Shelter Scotland and the Royal College of Midwives to introduce midwives to homelessness in all its forms.

Says a spokesperson: “As of June this year, there were 3,293 households with children and/or pregnant women living in temporary accommodation in Scotland. There were 2,393 midwives in Scotland in March 2012. The number of babies born in 2011 was 58,590.”

The Shelter Scotland course for midwives covers official definitions of homelessness, health issues associated with losing your home and the duties local authorities have to house pregnant women and their families before and after a baby is born.

Guidance is also offered on how to help pregnant women who are forced to flee as a result of domestic violence.

It is hoped the initiative will help Scotland’s midwives prevent homelessness for mums-to-be and give every child a better start in life.

Graeme Brown, director of Shelter Scotland, said: “Midwives are some of the most dedicated and compassionate healthcare professionals in Scotland and deserving of the trust and respect they have from their patients.

“It is this trust and insight they have into the home lives of thousands of pregnant women each year that puts them in a prime position to spot the warning signs of homelessness.

“This can be recognising that someone is sofa surfing, struggling to pay their bills or identifying the warning signs of domestic abuse.

“Every child deserves to be born into a safe, affordable and secure home. By helping midwives to understand and prevent homelessness we can help not only expectant mothers but also ensure every child is given the start in life they deserve.”

Gillian Smith, director of the Royal College of Midwives in Scotland, said: “We welcome this joint initiative and see it as providing a vital resource to educate midwives about the warning signs of homelessness amongst pregnant women.

“We look forward to working with Shelter Scotland on this ground-breaking initiative.”

The spokesperson added: “According to Shelter Scotland, the country’s housing crisis has eroded the safety net once in place to help the most vulnerable in society, putting even greater pressure on preventing homelessness.

“To prevent homelessness, Graeme Brown says, healthcare professionals and other agencies dealing with those at risk of homelessness, should first understand homelessness in all its forms as well as the challenges faced by local authorities who are responsible for housing vulnerable people.”

Graeme Brown added: “Midwives, and most other health professionals, are in a unique position to help women at risk of homelessness. We hope this pilot can soon be expanded and rolled out to other health professionals, which would help us in our fight to end homelessness for good.”

And the spokesperson concluded: “In Scotland, the Getting it Right for Every Child approach requires that services aimed at children and young people, including social work, health, education, police and housing organisations – adapt and streamline their systems and practices to work together in the best interests of the child.

“The approach encourages earlier intervention by professionals to avoid crisis situations at a later date.

“The Scottish Executive has also published Health and Homelessness Standards for NHS boards which form a commitment to improve the health of homeless people.”


Notes to editors:

  1. Shelter Scotland provides expert support services, online advice and a free national helpline for everyone facing housing and homelessness difficulties. For advice and support visit call 0808 800 4444.
  2. The Royal College of Midwives is the voice of midwifery. We are the UK’s only trade union and professional organisation led by midwives for midwives. The vast majority of the midwifery profession are our members. The RCM promotes midwifery, quality maternity services and professional standards. We support and represent our members individually and collectively in all four UK countries. We influence on behalf of our members and for the interests of the women and families for which they care. For more information visit the RCM website at To contact the RCM’s press office, please call Manuela Fernandes on O207 312 3456 or
  3. Spokespeople are available for interview – call the media office on 0844 515 2442. An ISDN line is available for broadcast interviews.
  4. Follow Shelter Scotland on Facebook – Twitter –

Shelter Scotland believes everyone should have a home. We help people find and keep a home. We campaign for decent housing for all.

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Contact: Shelter Scotland