Pregnancy Centres Network

Pregnancy Centres Network

At a glance

Causes

  • Community safety / victim support / domestic violence
  • Counselling / advice
  • Faith and ethics

Other details

Organisation type: 
Charity
Geographical remit: 
National - Britain

Objectives

One in three women will terminate a pregnancy by the time she’s 45, and one in four known pregnancies end in miscarriage.  Women have also said that they are having to choose to have an abortion, even for wanted pregnancies, as they cannot afford the cost of raising a child, including the cost of childcare.   

Given the high prevalence of abortion and pregnancy loss, the chances are you have a family member or friend who has been affected, and you may not even be aware as many women do not feel able to share what they have been through, and many struggle to find independent support when grappling with these issues. Pregnancy Centres Network (PCN) was set up in 2014 in response to a request from representatives of numerous independent pregnancy centres operating with a Christian ethos and was founded by trustees and staff with many years of experience setting up and running centres. Currently PCN supports around 60 independent Pregnancy Centres across the UK who work with a non-directive ethos, based on Christian principles, as defined in our governing document. Our goal is to serve centres and build best practice.  Our vision is that no-one in the UK has to face unintended pregnancy, abortion or other pregnancy loss alone, and that teenagers and vulnerable adults can make healthy decisions about relationships and sex.  Our mission is that no woman in the UK is more than 20 miles from their nearest centre.  

Activities

We support centres to build best practice, assisting and encouraging them to offer professional standards of non-directive care to their clients, by coordinating information between local centres and regions, providing encouragement and development opportunities to centre leaders and their teams, and building common resources for the benefit of local centres including accredited training.Growth in the number and resilience of centres is key to achieving our vision and mission, and high-quality training, with networking opportunities, are essential to building a network of centres which can reliably offer professional standards of free, non-directive counselling support to women and men at a very vulnerable point in their lives.

In the first six months of 2022 there were 123,219 women in England and Wales who ended a pregnancy with a rise in younger women and existing mothers, and an overall increase of 17% on the previous year.  The rate of abortion in Scotland in 2022 was 19% higher than the previous year. The current cost-of-living crisis is having an impact on women’s pregnancy choices, with abortion providers seeing an increase in demand of 47% in the first two weeks of 2023, which they believe is attributed to ‘the economic downturn, the cost-of-living crisis and the ability to access good quality contraception.’ 20% to 30% of women report domestic violence during pregnancy, often saying that it either started or worsened during their pregnancy.  

Women having abortions are of all ages and backgrounds, from every walk of life, and stigma often stops them talking about and sharing their experiences. Many agonise over an unintended pregnancy because of ethnic and cultural norms, or due to difficult life experiences which lowered their confidence in their ability to parent, or because of their economic circumstances. Only one in three women would speak to their friends, and just 62% would tell their sexual partner if they were considering having an abortion. This leaves many women with nowhere to turn for counselling help, although they would appreciate being able to talk to someone who is not a medical professional about their choices and options. 

Facing an unintended pregnancy or pregnancy loss not only has a huge impact on the mental health of the mother but can also impact her partner and those around her, and many women are given very little emotional support through the process of either abortion or miscarriage. Abortion providers most often offer consultation on the telephone rather than in person, which may not enable participation from a supportive partner, or may not alert medical practitioners to the need for safeguarding from a coercive partner. Centres work with women, couples and families who are facing unplanned pregnancy, pregnancy loss or are needing support after an abortion. They give each client finding themselves in a crisis pregnancy the time and space to step away from the pressures of their world and help them to make a decision which is based on accurate information and not on the emotional stress they are experiencing.  Support is ongoing, regardless of the outcome of the pregnancy, and many clients return to centres for post-abortion support, or befriending during pregnancy, following their decision.  Many centres go beyond this by also working in schools supporting students to make healthy decisions about relationships and sex, supporting women in prison and providing baby basic equipment to those in need. 

Pregnancy loss and crisis pregnancy are often viewed in a very black and white lens, but there is far more to this issue and the impact on many women and their loved ones across the country can be huge.  Therefore, PCN exists to show that there is a third option within this debate - that of genuine non-directive, non-judgemental support to women and their families at the time of crisis.  Recognising that anyone who seeks support from a pregnancy centre is facing a very significant and challenging life event, PCN is uniquely working to provide quality control, enabling members of the public to be confident of the quality of care that they will receive from any centre which has chosen to be part of the PCN Network.  

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