Dr Christine Puckering is on a Winston Churchill Fellowship Tour, looking at how babies at social risk are identified early, even in pregnancy, and what services are put in place to promote a secure attachment between mother and child and father and child.
Christine is going to provide regular blogs on her tour of Netherlands, Iceland, Norway & Finland.
One more day in Iceland. What an amazing country this is! It is raw and elemental, sophisticated and primitive. Hard to be remote from nature when the earth burns and heaves and steam and hot water shoot from the rocks. I was fortunate to visit the Snaefelsness Penninusular with Anna Maria Jonsdottir, who has been a fantastic friend as well as a professional link. The glacier runs almost to the sea where black lava has formed harsh craggy shapes which are an invitation to imagine trolls and other strange beings. The lava has formed rock arches in the sea, sink holes where the tides rush in and black sand. There are delightful fishing villages and neat harbours which still bring in fresh fish which is sold that the fish market on the quayside. It is clear they did win the cod wars!
The services too struggle against forces! The parliamentary advocates for children are proud to offer early screening, aged 14! I could not restrain myself from what I hope was professional astonishment. Fortunately I had been forewarned and just happened to have a small presentation on sensitive periods from the CECD and the Harvard Center for the Developing Child to hand! Similarly child protection does not really kick in or collect figures on children under three. How can the children be doing so well? There are a small number of heroic champions for young children and their families, some in the maternity hospital, some in an outpatient clinic and some in a social enterprise setting for perinatal mental health, called Parent, Pregnancy and Baby. The funding for these is fragile and they survive because a small number of clinicians are sufficiently passionate to keep them alive against the odds.
Well, here I am on the last day of my Fellowship, apart from of course the report. It will be a big task to do justice to all I have seen and heard but a pleasure too to review and revisit in my mind some amazing people and experiences.