Government backs push by mums' social website

The Department for Children, Schools and Families (DCSF) is supporting a social networking site for mothers as it embarks on a concerted PR drive.

Motherhood: Netmums offers advice
Motherhood: Netmums offers advice

Dubbed 'MySpace for mothers', Netmums.com was developed in 2002 to help bring mothers closer together across the UK and more than 750,000 women currently use the site each month.

Now the DCSF has provided £500,000 funding to the site to include online access to health professionals - the first time the Government has provided backing for a social networking site.

Meanwhile, London-based PR agency Unity has been brought on board to promote the website and its new service.

The agency will target the national press in an attempt to position the website as a voice of expert advice in the area.

The online health professionals include counsellors, health visitors and Women's Aid workers, who will be accessible through the site's existing Coffee House forum, chat rooms and support boards.

The funding will also pay for self-help materials and online lifestyle courses, in areas such as relationships, domestic violence and education.

Unity was appointed non-competitively and the account team is being led by Unity founder Nic Done.

Sally Russell, co-founder of Netmums, said: 'Feedback from our users shows that many mothers feel disconnected from society and not understood by others. Every week we are dealing with a terrifying number of mums that simply are not receiving the support that they need.'

Some 52 per cent of mothers claim to have suffered from post-natal depression and nearly half are reluctant to contact a health visitor when they have a problem.

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