09 Mar 2016

pkBoo: Helping parents build support networks in their local area

By Guest

In the run-up to Demo Day we are profiling each of the teams that have been going through the BGV programme. For this post, we sat down and spoke with Judy and Kartika from pkBoo – the app looking to reduce social isolation in new parents.

What’s the problem you’re trying to solve?

Judy: Having a baby is the most amazing experience but without family or close friends nearby, it can also be overwhelming and very lonely. There are a lot of changes when you have a baby, and nothing can quite prepare you for it.

Kartika: When I had a baby it was a bit tough at the beginning trying to juggle full-time work and time at home. I felt that there was not enough support to help parents get through this. You really need a community around you to create that work-life balance.

Judy: Without this community support, parents can become socially isolated and even depressed. There is a growing conversation about mental health in mums and dads, but the stigma is still quite strong. The official figures for depressed parents are 13% of women and 10% of men. To put that in perspective, that’s around 91,000 women and 70,000 men every year in England and Wales who will experience postnatal depression.

What’s your solution?

Kartika: We’re creating a local community through events and an app.  What we are trying to create is an honest, empowering space for them to share the highs and lows of parenthood.

Judy: Our app allows you to find great parents nearby and see what friends, interests and activities you have in common. We believe that by adding a bit of personality we can create more meaningful connections. Because you don’t stop being who you are, just because you have a child.

Kartika: We are also focusing on dads. Dads tend to have less time off with a new baby and are far less likely to go to baby groups. In many ways, it can be harder for dads to make friends with other parents.

What’s your experience with the problem?

Judy: The idea for pkBoo came after my own experience with postnatal depression. A friend opened up to me about her condition and I realised that was exactly what I’d been going through myself. I realised how important it is to have that peer-to-peer support.

Kartika: My husband struggled to find dads who lived close by to connect with after our baby was born. There really isn’t a lot out there for dads to support them through what can be a really challenging time. You’re under enormous pressure to support your wife and child – yet there’s not really a space for men to talk about all this stuff.

How do you see this impacting the lives of millions of people?

Judy: Parents who are negative or depressed can have a devastating impact on family life and the development of their children. Parents who have a good network are more likely to get out of the house and not be socially isolated.

Kartika: By building a community, parents are able to support each other both in an emotional and practical way. Having a friend to help with childcare, advice or just to lend a friendly ear can make parenting an altogether more positive experience. We believe that happier parents make for happier families.

How can people get involved?

Judy: Please spread the word and tell us where you’d like pkBoo to be next. At the moment we are in East London, namely Hackney and Tower Hamlets with Waltham Forest to follow. We are also holding an event this Saturday the 12th March at Hackney City Farm and we’d love to see you there. 

Kartika: Reach out and get in touch on Twitter, Instagram or at the website.

Website: www.pkboo.net
Twitter: @pkBooParents
Instagram: @pkBooParents