Thousands of young mothers and their babies have received support through a programme led by specially trained nurses and midwives over the past nine years.

Launched in 2010, the Family Nurse Partnership (FNP) is an intensive, two-and-a-half year home visiting programme for first-time mothers aged 19 and under, and eligible 20-24 year olds.

Family nurses support mothers to give their baby the best start in life - and also help in areas such as their mental health and confidence, housing, education and employment.

A report evaluating the service found that those involved in the FNP feel that its strengths include taking a "holistic approach to breaking inter-generational cycles of poor care-giving", reducing the risk of abuse.

They also highlight the supportive nature of the Family-Nurse and client relationship and the way it supports children's development and positive parenting approaches.

Public Health Minister Joe FitzPatrick said: "This is an excellent example of the vital role nurses and midwives play in our communities.

"This initiative has helped thousands of young mothers build the confidence and skills they need to provide the right support for their baby.

"Together with the introduction of the Baby Box, this programme supports our vision that every child in Scotland is given the best start in life and mothers receive the right care and support."

There are currently more than 200 family nurses delivering the programme across 11 health board areas, and a new national report has found that 82% of eligible mothers have taken part.

The report said that in the past nine years, more than 6,000 young women have benefited from the programme.

Shannon Elliott, a young mother who is using the Family Nurse Partnership service, said: "Family Nurse Partnership has been great for me. It is so helpful and encouraging. I feel more like a mum because of FNP.

"I like being able to talk things through before making a decision. I don't feel judged and feel able to make decisions for myself and my baby.

"I wouldn't have breastfeed without a family nurse. I have learned to believe in myself and my abilities."