The Early Start Service

The Early Start Service provides support to first time parents who feel they would benefit from regular and consistent support from a public health nurse (health visitor).

Becoming a parent for the first time can be scary and daunting, so Early Start aims to help build your confidence and knowledge about health, relationships and child development. You’ll also be made aware of all of the different local services available to help you be the very best parent you can be.

Who can Early Start support?

Early Start may be able to provide you with support if you’re a first time parent under 24 weeks pregnant and fall under any of these statements:

  • You spent some of your childhood in care
  • You had a social worker when you were a child
  • You have a history of mental health problems, depression or anxiety
  • You are homeless or don’t have anywhere permanent to live when your baby is born
  • You are in a difficult relationship with your partner
  • You have a history of being involved with the police
  • You have a history of abuse, drugs or alcoholism in your family
  • You have learning difficulties
  • You have problems managing money
  • You have very little support when the baby arrives
  • You are not sure you want to be a parent yet
  • You have problems with your confidence
  • You are a serving, reservist or veteran of HM Forces and need additional support
  • You have a severe physical disability
  • You are a teenager needing additional support

How does if differ?

Early Start forms a part of the ‘Healthy Together’ public health programme for children and young people aged 0-19 and their families across Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland.

The service is offered on top of the Healthy Together programme that everyone gets from their local public health nurse (health visitor) and will see you receive more home visits before and after your baby is born.

You will be visited by a specific member of the Early Start team, so you can build a relationship with your named public health nurse (health visitor). You can also choose who you want to be there in the visits with you, such as your partner, friend or family member, or you can choose to have the visit on your own.

What do the visits cover?

As well as giving you the opportunity to discuss anything about your pregnancy, the visits also help to make you aware of all the stages of pregnancy and provide you with information on parenting and relationships. You’ll also be encouraged to get involved in different groups to meet other first time parents in similar positions to you.

The small team of public health nurses (health visitors), who make up the Early Start team, aim to meet with you as early as possible, before you are 24 weeks pregnant, so they can get to know you and help you have a healthy pregnancy.

With your consent, your Early Start public health nurse (health visitor) will stay involved and in close communication with you until your child’s second birthday. You will then be supported by a local public health nurse (HV) to support you until your child goes to school.

If you are pregnant with your first baby and think this service could support you, please talk to your midwife, who can refer you, or call the Early Start team directly on:

  • 0116 2254857 if you live in Leicester city
  • 01509 564253 if you live in Leicestershire or Rutland

Useful links


ChatHealth logo

Leicestershire Partnership NHS Trust runs a confidential secure text messaging service for parents of children aged 0-19 years called Chat Health. The service operates Monday to Friday between 9am and 5pm, excluding bank holidays. All texts will be responded to by a public health nurse (health visitor/school nurse) within 24 hours. Outside of the service working hours, you’ll receive a message back to inform you that your text will be responded to once the line reopens.

Should you require urgent health advice in the meantime, please contact your GP, visit an NHS walk-in centre or call NHS 111. For emergencies, dial 999 or visit A&E.

Leicester City: text 07520 615381

Leicestershire & Rutland: text 07520 615382

Healthy Together Logo