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Falkirk Buggy Groups

New mums can often experience the feeling of social isolation and are overwhelmed by the responsibility and challenge of caring for a new baby.

Adopting the philosophy that every health care contact is a health opportunity a network of buggy walks have developed across Falkirk. Walks provide an innovative approach to mother and baby contact with health professionals whilst maximising opportunities for health gain through social interaction, physical activity and lifelong learning

***PAHA Award Winner 2012***

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How It Started

A network of Buggy groups was set up after Carol Murray a health visitor at Bonnybridge Health centre met Barbara Mcconnell , development officer, Step Forth, a local health walk scheme at a community event.

The Health Visitor team had identified a need for new mums to come together in a way that would benefit them, physically mentally and socially.

A twelve week pilot scheme was set up in September 2009 with a weekly walk in Bonnybridge. The projects aim was to give support to new mums and their babies, allowing the mums to chat to each other and the health visitor while getting exercise and fresh air.

Partners Involved

The Buggy groups are a partnership with Step Forth and Health Visitors from NHS Forth Valley. A small grant was given to the project by Paths for All.

Paths for All organised a feedback and planning session for Health Visitors and mums with independent facilitation from Outside the Box.

This project cost very little to set up, just a little time, enthusiasm and knowledge of the local area which the local walking project is being provided.


As a result of the partnership that formed a project was developed where the local health visitor led health walks for the new mums and their babies. The health walk scheme contributed to this by planning and risk assessing the routes. This new approach to health visits allowed the mums to chat to each other, improving social interaction, and at the same time gave them informal exposure to a health visitor. Walks provide an innovative approach to mother and baby contact with health professionals whilst maximising opportunities for health gain through increased participation in regular physical activity.

Shortly after the Bonnybridge group was established, another village in Falkirk followed suite and once word got out in the community of new mums, buggy walks were being requested in a number of other areas.

The model used to set up a buggy walk is a simple and transferable one. Some key elements that are required include:
• The health visitor recognising the benefits of physical activity and being motivated to use the health walk model as a way to engage with mums;
• The local health walking scheme being willing to do a risk assessment on local routes, and;
• Use of local (and where possible, free) advertising avenues.

Results and Impact

The health visitor uses the Edinburgh post natal Scale (Cox) with her new mums.

At the start of the project 20% of the mums coming to the group had depression. This decreased dramatically after a few weeks of the buggy groups starting. It was found that mums spoke a lot more and liked speaking to the health visitor in a less sterile environment. The mums also enjoyed the peer support.

Paths for All set up an outside the box session with two of the groups. Mums were asked to give their reasons for coming along to the buggy groups and the benefits.

Big Scotland also approached the group to make a short video promoting the walks. This can be found on you tube.

Lessons Learned

Before starting any walk the area must be risk assessed, paths away from traffic are best. There must be a place to go back to for a chat and refreshments.

It’s sometimes difficult to find a place that has the space to hold mums and buggies. One of the biggest difficulties was other areas attitudes to Health visitors leading walks. Luckily the senior Health Officer at Falkirk could see the benefits and how it was saving time and money. Health visitor could see up to 15 mums in 1hour, appointments with the Doctor also fell as well as the percentage of new mums with depression

What's next for the project?

The Step Forth coordinator has already trained up walk leaders to help groups which has made them sustainable, now looking at asking fit grannies to lead the walks.

The British heart foundation put the Falkirk Buggy group in their good practice
guide .

What is this?

What is it about?

Where is this relevant?

When was this published?


Lead Contact Name

Carol Murray


Health Visitor


Step Forth and NHS Forth Valley


Westburn Ave, Falkirk, FK1 5ST

Phone Number

01324 504556

Email Address


Westburn Ave Falkirk FK1 5ST

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Copyright 2009 NHS Health Scotland