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The processes of implementing and sustaining an intensive volunteer one-to-one support (doula) service for disadvantaged pregnant women

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'Doulas' (lay women who are trained to support other women during pregnancy, birth and postnatally) can improve outcomes for disadvantaged mothers and babies. This 'realistic evaluation' study uses qualitative interviews to explore the views of staff, commissioners and local champions about the processes of implementing and sustaining five volunteer doula support projects in England. The six key factors in their successful implementation are: meeting local commissioning priorities; staff commitment, expertise and skills; networking with other agencies; defining and marketing the doula role; providing strong support for volunteers; and having some costs absorbed by others. The four key factors in sustaining the projects are: finding ways to balance the numbers of referrals and volunteers; shaping the service to local service drivers; ongoing networking; and responding creatively to funding shortfalls. It is a constant challenge to balance the rate of referrals and the number of trained volunteers within tight budgets and timescales.
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Keywords: DOULA; FACILITATOR; PROCESS; VOLUNTEER

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Email: [email protected]

Publication date: 01 July 2016

This article was made available online on 07 June 2016 as a Fast Track article with title: "The processes of implementing and sustaining an intensive volunteer one-to-one support (doula) service for disadvantaged pregnant women".

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  • Voluntary Sector Review publishes high-quality, peer-reviewed, accessible papers on third sector research, policy and practice. It is an invaluable cutting-edge resource for all those researching or working in the fast-growing voluntary, community and wider third sectors.

    The journal covers the full range of issues relevant to voluntary sector studies, including: definitional and theoretical debates; management and organisational development; financial and human resources; philanthropy; volunteering and employment; regulation and charity law; service delivery; civic engagement; industry and sub-sector dimensions; relations with other sectors; social enterprise; evaluation and impact. Voluntary Sector Review covers voluntary sector studies from a variety of disciplines, including sociology, social policy, politics, psychology, economics, business studies, social anthropology, philosophy and ethics. The journal includes work from the UK and Europe, and beyond, where cross-national comparisons are illuminating. With dedicated expert policy and practice sections, Voluntary Sector Review also provides an essential forum for the exchange of ideas and new thinking.

    Rigorous and stimulating, Voluntary Sector Review is an indispensable tool for everyone who values empirically-grounded, theoretically-informed and policy-relevant reviews of the future direction of the voluntary sector.

    Editors: Nick Acheson (Trinity College, University of Dublin, Ireland), Bernard Harris (University of Strathclyde, UK), Rob Macmillan, (University of Birmingham, UK)

    The journal is published in association with the Voluntary Sector Studies Network (VSSN) and a print copy of the journal is a membership benefit.

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