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Contributed by
Parents 1st UK


Parents 1st UK is a charity that works to support parents and babies through a programme of peer support.

They provide free guides to help peer support groups implement their programmes. 

The charity has designed an online tool that provides a tried and tested step-by-step process for designing, adapting, and implementing a perinatal volunteer peer support initiative – whether that involves setting up a new peer support initiative or reviewing an existing one.

Recipe status

This recipe has been in use since March 2020.

We are not sharing this recipe as the perfect solution to a problem, but we believe Parents 1st UK’s learnings could be very useful to other organisations.

Users and needs served

  • As a parent or practitioner, I need to know where to start when planning a perinatal peer support initiative
  • As a parent or practitioner, I need to know how an initiative could be developed in my community
  • As a member of staff, I need to review and improve an existing initiative
  • As a funder or commissioner, I need to know how to develop and sustain a quality initiative
  • As a member of staff, I need to know how peer support could operate safely and complement the care I provide to mothers, fathers and families 
  • As a parent, volunteer or member of staff, I want to connect with others delivering peer support

Software and tools used

Made Open

Made Open is a unique networking platform that connects people with a shared interest – in this case, enabling quality perinatal peer support to flourish. 

The platform’s powerful functionality is geared towards building community platforms that support user interaction, the hosting of resources, and other interactive capabilities – such as user polls, guides, campaign management software and a user directory.


Made Open’s services are bespoke, and therefore pricing is available upon request.


A key feature of the platform is the ability to create guides. People using the guides can also connect with others through group and conversation tools within the Made Open platform.

Parents 1st chose the Made Open platform because it allowed them to configure the guides alongside a unique “community of practice” that they are developing for their network of people who have a shared interest in perinatal peer support.

Recipe steps

1. Work through your resources

You may have a bank of knowledge and resources that you’ve been sharing through other mediums, such as videos and webinars. Use these as a basis for content creation. It is better than starting from scratch!

Look at how existing resources used for delivering an existing peer support initiative can be repurposed into generic resources.

2. Think about your users

Draw on the knowledge of experienced coordinators delivering the specific, tested model of peer support to inform the content of the guides.

Consider the whole journey – from initial vision, design, and setting up to delivering, reviewing and continually improving the initiative.

Mapping out that journey can inform whether you want to develop a series of numbered guides that reflect the different stages that peer support initiative goes through. 

3. Encourage engagement 

You want your guides to be used, so consider walking users through them.

Parents 1st offer free tours of their platform and guides. Users can also learn how to use, share and contribute to the guides.

Make sure your license enables users to legally download the material and adapt it to their own particular use. Peer support models need to adapt and flex to suit local needs and circumstances.

Use social media channels to promote resources to your service users, as well as to the wider community. Reach out to other charities working in the same field to see if their users would benefit from access to these resources.

4. Interact with users

Make sure that you hold conversations with users as you will need their feedback and experiences to help inform any changes in the content of your guides.

This will not only help you get a better understanding of how the guides are used, but it will also help to create a sense of community. Providing guides is all about groups, communities, and charities sharing their knowledge. The Made Open platform enables you to easily create group spaces that users can join, and users can start conversations through questions that others can answer.

Encourage users to use the guides alongside other virtual community tools to get a more holistic and collaborative method of learning. 


The guides are a source of knowledge and experience that is constantly growing. Every peer support initiative is unique depending on the communities served. The purpose is to capture the golden threads of your model that others can pick up, share, adapt and use in practice without having to do the work from scratch.


There are risks that others could ignore the guides, cherry pick ad hoc elements, or use the resources out of context. This needs to be balanced with the benefits of sharing knowledge, experience and evidence of ‘what works’. Quality peer support can make a unique contribution to give babies the best start in life.


Many thanks to Parents 1st UK for contributing this recipe.


This recipe is licensed under a Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International Licence.

That means you are free to copy, redistribute, and build on the text of this recipe, but only for non-commercial purposes (if you want to use it for commercial purposes, get in touch with us at [email protected]). You must give credit to both Catalyst and Parents 1st UK and link back to this page. If you build on this recipe then you must share your version under this same licence.

Recipe published on May 6th, 2021. Last updated August 6th, 2021