Protecting human rights in childbirth

12 highlights of 2019

Last year our (then new) Chief Executive, Amy Gibbs, started a new tradition of taking time at the end of the year to reflect on some of our annual highlights. None of our work would be possible without our fantastic wider team of amazing Trustees, trainers, volunteers, and funders – from hugely supportive Trusts and Foundations, and corporate partners right through to individual monthly donors. Not to mention all the other wonderful organisations and individuals we work with. Thank you for being part of our journey this year!

And so our highlights for 2019 are:

  • The inspiring Nadine Montgomery, whose landmark case transformed the law on informed consent, became our first ever Patron
  • With Birth Companions, we launched our Holding it all together report on human rights and multiple disadvantage in pregnancy, birth and postnatal care, achieving significant ongoing traction for our tangible solutions
  • New partnerships with law firms Irwin Mitchell and Leigh Day helped us increase our impact and put us on a sustainable footing for the future
  • Our legal challenge to the government’s decision to delay the MBRRACE report due to pre-election ‘purdah’ rules was covered by the BBC Today programme, The Times and The Independent, highlighting the shocking racial inequalities in maternal deaths among Black and Asian women
  • We brought women’s experiences of non-consented vaginal exams to the fore, supporting them to share their stories at a multi-disciplinary seminar, resulting in national coverage in The Sun and a forthcoming book on this rights violation
  • NHS England committed to resourcing and rolling out the new IDECIDE tool to support women’s informed decision-making in labour – a major step forward in implementing the Montgomery judgement in practice
  • Our new training workshops in London and Halifax reached wider audiences and brought in vital income, while we broadened our training to peer supporters working with vulnerable women, like Amma Birth Companions in Glasgow
  • We refreshed our brand, created new materials and revamped our website, to improve our engagement with women, health professionals and stakeholders – and now have two Impact Reports under our belt
  • Through evidence, advocacy and collaboration, we influenced concrete policy change – we’re proud that both the RCOG curriculum for doctors and NMC midwifery standards have human rights, autonomy and consent at their core
  • We deepened our relationships with decision-makers like NHS England, the Royal College of Midwives and the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, working together to embed human rights in maternity care through training and practical solutions
  • Internally, our focus on team cohesion and organisational development has strengthened and professionalised our #smallbutvital, nimble and effective charity
  • Across our advice, training and influencing work, we cemented our strategic focus on women facing discrimination and disadvantage during pregnancy and birth – which we’ll build on in our exciting plans for 2020!

2020 looks set to be another transformative year, not least for Amy who is expecting her new arrival in January. We wish Amy all the best and are looking forward to an extra visitor at a team meeting very soon! And we are feeling very lucky to have Angela Style on board who will be taking over the Birthrights helm until Amy’s return in September.

Wishing all of our friends and supporters a happy Christmas and very best wishes for the New Year from all the Birthrights team…

(Please note that Birthrights will be closed from the 20th December until the 6th January.)

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