A HEART-warming initiative is coming to the neonatal units at Darlington Memorial Hospital this month.

The Leo’s charity and vCreate have teamed up to provide secure video diaries to parents of premature and sick babies for free.

The vCreate App will let nursing staff in the neonatal units at both Darlington and Durham hospitals record video updates of baby for families to access from their phones at times when they aren’t able to be in the unit.

When the baby is discharged from the neonatal unit, parents can download all video clips of their baby and keep them forever.

Lottie King, founder of Leo’s, a charity that supports parents throughout their neonatal journey and post-discharge, explains why the service is being made available.

She said: “Parents whose baby needs to spend time in a neonatal unit experience a rollercoaster of emotions and unfortunately anxiety and PTSD are frequent.

"By making this new service available, we will be reaching parents at a critical time, they may be at their lowest point, but receiving video updates from the unit, will be like providing a virtual hug to help them carry on.

“So far the service is in the neonatal unit at the James Cook University Hospital and Zoe’s Place Baby Hospice courtesy of Leo’s and we are so proud to be able to offer this to the neonatal units here.”

Julie Sanderson, neonatal manager, said: “We work hard to ensure families can be with their babies on the unit as often and for as long as they want to be.

"We appreciate that, particularly when babies are with us for several weeks, this can be difficult. We’re grateful to Leo’s for bringing vCreate to families, making separation more bearable.”

The service, which costs £15,000 a year to run and will help more than 1,300 families is being funded by doting dad, Thomas Robinson. Mr Robinson who is director of Infinity Digital, based in Skelton, has taken on the mammoth task to ensure families across the region, with the help of Leo’s, are supported via this initiative.