Barnsley, the Yorkshire town that gave us chat show host Michael Parkinson and former leader of the National Union of Mineworkers Arthur Scargill, has now produced the first-ever breastfeeding Compact.
Most Compacts cover large organisations and often struggle to affect the lives of people on the ground. The breastfeeding Compact, however, contains detailed commitments between specific groups of people. On one side are mothers who volunteer to take part in breastfeeding peer-support groups across the Barnsley Metropolitan Borough Council district. On the other are Barnsley Primary Care Trust and the organisations that provide services on its behalf.
The peer-support groups are overseen by a local partnership called Fit for the Future, which Barnsley PCT established to improve the standard of public health in the area.
Support workers promote breastfeeding as an important part of a baby's healthy development and receive training and information on breastfeeding issues, which they pass on to mothers of new-born babies. The Compact aims to ensure all of them receive the same training and support.
It sets out 15 duties of provider organisations, such as agreeing to provide an approved 12-week training course and an induction programme for peer-support volunteers, to adopt volunteer policies and to ensure volunteers are trained and insured.
"The Compact clarifies the peer supporters' role and ensures their responsibilities are set out," says Angela Beaumont, breastfeeding link worker supervisor at Voluntary Action Barnsley.
Underpinning the document is a vision statement. "Every woman who has a baby in our local area will receive all the information and support she needs to make her breastfeeding experience positive," it says.
Paul Redgrave, director of public health at Barnsley PCT, says: "Some tremendous work has been carried out through our Fit for the Future programme. This compact will allow that work to really benefit the parents and children of Barnsley and help address our worryingly low breastfeeding rates."
Paul Barasi, local Compact Voice officer, says: "Well done Barnsley for having the world's first Compact made at a practical and operational level."