CAPTION: The Begin Well course runs over six weeks and provides parents-to-be with the building blocks for family life

Bishop Encourages More Churches to Run Begin Well Antenatal Course for New Parents

Posted: 13th April, 2022

The Right Reverend Jackie Searle, The Bishop of Crediton joined parents-to-be at Holy Trinity Church in Barnstaple to see the Begin Well antenatal course in action.

Begin Well is charity which works with churches to provide antenatal classes.

Its evidence-based course is hosted and run by local churches and offers parents-to-be the starting blocks for family life.

After two years of running the course virtually via Zoom, Naomi Shaw and her team at Holy Trinity Church in Barnstaple are now able to welcome parents-to-be in person.

Bishop Jackie said she enjoyed meeting new parents at Begin Well in Barnstaple

Bishop Jackie said: “I’m really pleased to be here as they’re running the first evening of the course, one of the brilliant things about a class like this is meeting other people, being able to talk about what you’re going through.

“You make friends for life at courses like this, as you get to know one another and support one another.”

“One thing they are offering with Begin Well is a really good start in life, but there’s also a whole program of things run by the church from baby groups to children’s groups, so there’s a sense of real community support for families. I’d love to see it happening in more of our church communities.”

Begin Well was set up Karen Egitto and Louise Hughes who have worked for the NHS for nearly 40 years between them. They started the charity as a result of seeing local services for pregnant women and their families being reduced, including the NHS no longer offering free antenatal classes to all pregnant women.

Naomi Shaw said: “I think it’s really needed at the moment and a great way for the church to support the community, one of the key things that the groups get out of it is the friendships and the connections that they make along the way, it’s such a privilege to see their families grow.”

Emma and Arron who attended the Barnstaple session said: “We signed up because one of our friends did the course and said it was really beneficial, also we wanted to meet other parents so we can get to know each other and chat through our experiences, and we just want to learn as much as we possible can as it’s our first child.”

There are currently six churches running Begin Well in Devon: Belmont Chapel, Exeter; St Michaels and All Angels, Alphington; South Molton Methodist Church; Holy Trinity, Barnstaple; St Matthias Church, Torquay and Exeter Network Church.

There is subscription fee for churches which covers training, course materials, policies,  procedures, booking systems and ongoing support throughout the course.