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St Albans and Dacorum District Bulletin

St Albans and Dacorum - News Bulletin

Updated May 2020

We are collating the updates we receive for the services into district bulletins. If you would like to include your service update/news for this area please email familiesfirst.support@hertfordshire.gov.uk and please put "Newsletter update" in the subject box, thank you.

For countywide updates, please also visit our Partner Updates page.

Hertfordshire Family Centre - Family Support, St Albans

  • St Albans Family Support Team are currently offering telephone and email support. We are continuing to accept referral for most of our packages of support that are able to be delivered over the phone if the family are in agreement. If the family would prefer to wait until staff can deliver the support on a face to face basis we can offer wellbeing calls, weekly or more frequently if they would prefer. We are also able to offer an Emergency Response package which means that rather than delivering a specific support package we can pick out elements of different packages to meet the families immediate needs. The Early Start team are continuing to provide telephone support with breastfeeding, introducing solid food and they are facilitating baby sing and play sessions through Zoom. These are bookable through Eventbrite but there are some targeted spaces for our more vulnerable parents. We are able to signpost families for support with shopping, collecting medication, accessing foodbanks, wellbeing etc.
  • The Family Support Team are currently organising a Family Toolkit Course to be facilitated via Zoom.
  • We have resources we can email out to families and talk through with them over the phone, to support with routines, boundaries and behaviour, emotional wellbeing or activities they can use to keep their children busy while they are not in school.

We continue to work closely with our PHN colleagues and are having weekly Family Matters meetings to ensure regular communication between our services

Hertfordshire Community NHS Trust : Public Health Nursing, Dacorum & St Albans Quadrant

Public Health Nursing is currently working to new guidelines from NHS England and so we are prioritising new births and Safeguarding work only. We offer clients virtual consultations by phone or by the Attend Anywhere platform initially to explain about our service offer during Covid 19 and book a triage call with the mother at 10 -14 days post birth. This lasts for approx. 40 mins and then we arrange a brief 15 minute home visit to assess the mother and baby only.

For Safeguarding families we continue with monthly virtual consultations and only offer short home visits if there is a health issue that needs monitoring.

Our staff wear PPE on all home visits.

We are not running any baby clinics or group sessions at the moment. All the 1 and 2 year reviews have been cancelled. The Preparing for Baby course has been recorded virtually and parents can access this via the Eventbrite link given out by Midwifery. They then get access to the usual 3 sessions we offered on the face to face courses, and can watch the sessions on line at their convenience.

We have increased our PHN staff who are manning our duty line so we can respond to parents calls quickly. Please note our Professionals line number and the 0300 FCS number is only open from 9-5pm Monday to Friday, currently at the moment.

We continue to make referrals to our Family centre partners and other professionals as required to support our families

YC Hertfordshire - St Albans and Dacorum Team

The Youth Work Team have responded brilliantly to the challenges of Covid-19 and the challenges it has presented. With such an abrupt end to our face to face contact in our centres for young people and youth projects the team set about contacting all young people to offer regular 1;1 catch up meetings to maintain contact.. We have therefore, been able to maintain meaningful contact with the most vulnerable and the most challenging young people across our double district.

Across the double district team we have continued to use Twitter, WhatsApp, as well as the more traditional telephone and text.

The team have just launched a new Instagram account: yc.dacorumstalbans and this is growing daily, not just among young people but through other support groups such as Hectors House (a signposting charity, with the aim to stop suicide and the stigma around mental health).

We expect to see more referrals for young people showing signs of anxiety as this lockdown continues and we will support accordingly.

We are also now tasked with the return home interview for young people who are classed as missing, which allows colleagues from SASH (formerly Targeted Youth Support) and Intensive Families Support Team (IFST) to concentrate other work tasks

We have also maintained contact with partners i.e. Police to look at how we can help ensure the themes of social distancing are continually conveyed to young people.

We have received great feedback for the work we have done currently from young people, parents, partners, and elected members and we will continue to provide the best service to all young people who need us in these difficult times.

The IAG WRL team are working closely with schools to offer support to students throughout COVID-19 via phone and video calling. The team have worked hard to put a provision in place for schools  in St Albans and Dacorum and are making follow up calls to all year 11’s in the double district area including those who have EHCPs and who are receiving additional wellbeing phone calls. 

We are also developing promotional material including a text message service for young people, parent/carers and schools to use during COVID-19 where they can access advice and guidance from a qualified personal advisor.

The team are also delivering a fantastic virtual pathways programme for young people who have been identified as at risk of not being in education, employment or training or those are currently NEET.

We have received some fantastic feedback from young people, professionals and parents carers during this time and will continue to work hard to provide support to young people during this challenging time.

Citizens Advice

To comply with measures to prevent transmission of Covid 19 Citizens Advice St Albans District has suspended face-to-face advice services in the St Albans Civic Centre, as well as outreach services in Harpenden, Redbourn, London Colney and Wheathampstead, until further notice.


There are a number of ways people can continue to get advice during this time.

  1. Call 01727 811118, advisers are waiting to provide advice, from 10am to 4pm, Monday to Thursday and 10-1 Friday.
  2. Visit www.castad.org.uk for local webchat and email advice
  3. Call Hertfordshire Adviceline service, on 03444 111 444, or 03000 3300 650 from a mobile.
  4. Visit the Citizens Advice website at www.citizensadvice.org.uk/ for advice and to chat online to an adviser
  5. Get help with a new claim for Universal Credit by calling the Universal Credit Help to Claim line on 0800 1448444.
  6. Contact the Citizens Advice consumer helpline on 0808 223 1133, or chat online to an advisor on our website, for advice on consumer issues (e.g. issues related to products or services you've purchased).


We will endeavour to minimise the impact on our clients by implementing the following service continuity arrangements.

  1. Referrals and Advice: The Gateway remains open for referrals to our service
  2. Admissions: All potential admissions to refuge will continue as long as we have space, it meets referral criteria, and the potential client is not displaying symptoms, has not returned from an affected area, and as long as the accommodation remains virus free. Referrals go through the Gateway as usual.
  3. Community: All our existing clients are receiving on-going support by phone. Existing clients have the contact number for their worker New referrals will receive support and advice and can be referred through the Gateway.
  4. Programmes: All Triple R programmes have been suspended until further notice. New referrals are being taken and these clients will receive telephone support and advice until the programmes resume.


    • Managers Liz Perry 07501 150068 lizperry@sahwr.org.uk
      Gateway 0330 102 5811
      Sara Jackson: 07501 492063 sarajackson@sahwr.org.uk

    Please use the normal e mail addresses to Managers. They will be available during their normal working hours.

    We appreciate that this is an evolving situation and therefore will continue to communicate any further changes to partners and colleagues as they arise.

    Caring Dads Programme

    Due to the Covid-19 crisis and current lockdown / social distancing rules, HACRO’s normal delivery of the Caring Dads programme will be temporarily suspended as from 1st May. Any enquiries or referrals received after this date will be filed for processing once ‘normal’ service is resumed. Our hope is that we may restart our courses from September 20. In the meantime HACRO is looking into the possibility of delivering a Helpline service for dads. Once it is ready it will be advertised on the HACRO website – hacro.org.uk - and the Herts Parenting Directory. Given reduced staffing it would be appreciated that you do not contact the HACRO office direct for information until such time as the website indicates that the Helpline service is up and running. I will contact you all again once I return from my furlough to resume the regular work on the main Caring Dads programme.


    DWP have nationally received an increase in claims of 1.5 million since March, with a decreasing workforce, due to the coronavirus situation, there has been a call for everyone to upskill and change job role to process claims. We have 10,000 corporate colleagues also training to process claims to deal with the huge increases we are receiving. We have also established an amazing turnaround in deploying IT to our colleagues working from home.

    We have streamlined the claiming process, to make it easier for our claimants to verify their ID and be able to apply for an advance payment on their claim.

    All of our processes have been updated to accommodate the situation using a “Trust and Protect” system of verifying evidence over the phone.

    Claimant Commitments have been switched off for the time-being as we are not expecting our claimants to be looking for work due to the isolation and social distancing guidelines. This situation will be reviewed accordingly and we hope to be in a better place soon to start looking at further support for our claimants and using the digital services of our providers and partners.

    We have increased UC awards by £20 per month for a year to help our claimants financially, this is an increase in addition to the annual increase.

    In these challenging times we have been able to achieve 93% of payments on time and in full.


    DSPL 8 would like to thank all staff in our school settings for their continued care and support for children and families of Dacorum in the midst of COVID-19. The impact of juggling work commitments and having children at home makes this a particularly challenging time. Staff are invited to attend a series of six virtual sessions to support you to help your own children build resilience to deal with uncertainty whilst staying alert and adapting to new routines during this unprecedented period.

    For more information and to book your place, please click on the following link - https://bounceforward.com/raise-resilience-dacorum-professional-parents/ alternatively you can click on the link on the PDF flyer via ‘Register Here’. These sessions are after half term, book now to secure your place.

    Watford and Three Rivers Bulletin

    Watford and Three Rivers - News Bulletin

    Updated May 2020

    We are collating the updates we receive for the services into district bulletins. If you would like to include your service update/news for this area please email familiesfirst.support@hertfordshire.gov.uk and please put "Newsletter update" in the subject box, thank you.

    For countywide updates, please also visit our Partner Updates page.

    Three Rivers District Council

    The latest bulletin for Three Rivers. Hope you’re all finding these useful, and as always, older bulletins can be found https://www.threerivers.gov.uk/egcl-page/partnerships

    Watford and Three Rivers, Family Centre Service - Family Support Service

    We remain committed to the ongoing delivery of family support services. The Family Support Team continue to deliver tailor made packages of support on a 1:1 basis with families via telephone calls and accompanying resources which are emailed to families to support discussions. Professionals and parents can continue to submit referrals via the following website: https://www.hertsfamilycentres.org/professionals-area/family-centre-professionals-area.aspx We encourage professionals to contact the Team Leader prior to completing a referral form to discuss support (please contact 0300 123 7572 and ask to speak to the Family Support Team Leader)

    The Early Start team are still delivering sessions, albeit in a different way, though Facebook Live videos for Rhyme Time, Baby Sing & Play and Story Time sessions – search “Watford & Three Rivers Family Centre Service”.  Other important information is also posted daily, as well as on our Instagram page “hertswatford3riversfcs”. We continue to offer 1:1 Breastfeeding and Introduction to Solids advice via calling 0300 123 7572, where families are directed to a qualified member of the team for support.  Referrals can still be made via the website above for any emerging needs work with families.

    Shape Up is a 12 week FREE weight loss course aimed at men aged 18-65 who have a BMI of 30+.

    The course starts May 2020 virtually through ZOOM and advises men on simple lifestyle changes they can make to help lose weight in a safe, friendly way. There will be afternoon and evening classes and all exercises will be suitable to do at home.

    If you know of anyone who could benefit from this course then contact Rhys Ratcliffe at rhys.ratcliffe@watfordfc.com now to secure your place.


    East Herts and Broxbourne Bulletin

    Updated May 2020

    We are collating the updates we receive for the services into district bulletins. If you would like to include your service update/news for this area please email familiesfirst.support@hertfordshire.gov.uk and please put "Newsletter update" in the subject box, thank you.

    For countywide updates, please also visit our Partner Updates page.

    YC Hertfordshire support for young people in Broxbourne, East Herts & Welwyn Hatfield


    With face-to-face support work currently suspended following the government’s instruction to remain at home in order to tackle the COVID-19 outbreak, YC Hertfordshire youth workers and personal advisers have responded by maintaining contact with vulnerable young people referred to the service and those who were attending projects and were on caseloads. The teams are working with schools and partners to ensure young people, especially vulnerable young people who are at increased risk due to restrictions at this unprecedented time, still have access to support.

    In Broxbourne, East Herts and Welwyn Hatfield our teams of youth workers and personal advisers have continued to offer phone and online support, recording over 2000 communications with young people in the past month to provide advice and guidance on a range of topics, including emotional wellbeing and managing anxiety, bullying, sexual health, managing finances and budgeting, independent living, exploring career options, applying for college and apprenticeships, and helping GCSE and A ‘Level students navigate through these uncertain times.

    Online youth projects

    As well as individual 1-1 support, we are now delivering a range of online group projects via virtual sessions on Microsoft Teams for young people in Broxbourne, East Herts and Welwyn Hatfield. Project details and times are published online here:

    Broxbourne Online Projects

    East Herts Online Projects

    Welwyn Hatfield Online Projects

    Further online projects will be offered in response to the referrals we are receiving.

    How to refer young people

    If you would like to refer a young person to receive our support please complete the online referral form, and if you would wish to discuss a referral or any of our services for young people in Broxbourne, East Herts or Welwyn Hatfield please call 01992 588220.

    Useful Information to distribute to young people

    Attached is a pdf we have produced for young people, one for each district/borough, which includes:

    • Details of online projects they can join in their local area
    • Tips for looking after emotional wellbeing and physical health
    • Tips for keeping safe online
    • How they can start planning for their futures and access YC Hertfordshire services to support them with this

    I have also included a pdf of careers resources that will be particularly relevant for young people aged 14-18.

    I would be grateful if partners could distribute these to your young people, colleagues and also parents who might find it useful.

    YC Hertfordshire Text Service for Young People in Broxbourne, East Herts & Welwyn Hatfield

    Young people aged 13-19 can text ‘SUPPORT’ with their name and age to 07860 065173 to speak with a trained youth worker about any worries or concerns they have, or text ‘CAREERS’ to talk with a personal adviser and work through their future plans. Young people will receive a response from one of our team.

    Please do raise awareness of this new service with your young people and other colleagues.

    CHEXS are still here to support you in these uncertain times.

    • Family Support 1:1 sessions
      • 26 families contacted last week with support and advice
      • 22 Foodbank parcels distributed in the last 3 weeks
    • Self Esteem team continue to mentor and support the children and young people we work with.
      • 140 children contacted with support and advice last week
      • 6 video calls last week continuing our amazing mentoring sessions.
    • Links to home learning resources given,

    The CHEXS team are available to speak to for help, support and advice.

    CHEXS main email - admin@chexs.co.uk

    Main Phone number - 07970 498966

    Family Support Lead - FSL@chexs.co.uk

    Self Esteem Team Lead - juliec@chexs.co.uk

    Download the CHEXs newsletter here

    Family Centres : Update from Family Support Service

    During these times of uncertainty, we hope that you and your teams are keeping well.

    As with many services across Hertfordshire, we too have reviewed our usual ways of working to ensure the health and safety of our teams and the families we support. 

    We are however continuing to offer our services to families, with some small tweaks to how the 1:1 and group support is delivered – therefore, our referral pathway remains unaffected at this time.

    Some of the changes that we have made include:

    • We are now providing the support, advice and guidance through telephone and video-calling where possible.
    • A new response approach has been developed for parents who are experiencing the most challenging situations at this time.
    • We are providing digital material on our Facebook and Instagram pages for ALL families to access at a time that suits them, such as home learning ideas and activities, Story Times and Rhyme Time sessions.  Families will just need to follow our pages.
    • Some families are receiving Parenting Group support through Zoom sessions, with more planned for the future.
    • Key information such as ‘Preparing for Baby’ antenatal support and Introduction to Solids advice and guidance is still available for families to access – they can book as usual through Eventbrite and will then be provided with details to our new platform where they can access the online video links. 
    • Families who were booked on to attend face to face sessions are being contacted directly to ensure that they receive the new online information
    • Future plans include developing digital material that supports all of our emerging needs offer, such as Early Talk and Oral Health.

    If you know of a family who would benefit from some support, please contact the relevant Team Leader or Manager, prior to completing the referral form to discuss the family’s needs and the support available - Phone: 0300 123 7572. Alternatively you can refer the family directly: https://www.hertsfamilycentres.org/professionals-area/family-centre-professionals-area.aspx

    Citizens Advice - We’re still here to help!

    If you need advice during the coronavirus outbreak, we’re still here to help. Whilst we’ve had to temporarily close our face to face service you can still contact us in a number of ways:

    For advice by email go to www.citizensadviceeastherts.org.uk/webadvice


    For phone advice please call 03444 111444 10am-4pm Monday to Friday (you may have to wait in a queue but we will get to you as soon as we can). Or you might find it easier to call 01920 459944 and leave a message so one of our advisers can get back to you.(Calls at local rate)

    You can also access information online at citizensadviceeastherts.org.uk

    1. We will do our very best to answer all calls and emails as quickly as we can but please bear with us as we manage high demand.

    Facebook – @EastHertsCitizensAdvice

    Please submit your update to familiesfirst.support@hertfordshire.gov.uk

    North Herts and Stevenage Bulletin

    Updated May 2020

    We are collating the updates we receive for the services into district bulletins. If you would like to include your service update/news for this area please email familiesfirst.support@hertfordshire.gov.uk and please put "Newsletter update" in the subject box, thank you.

    For countywide updates, please also visit our Partner Updates page.

    Local school partnership update

    Stevenage local school partnership have continued to support families and schools through out the lockdown. We have provided support at child in need and Child protection virtual meetings, we have continued to attend team around the family meetings virtually and complete FFA's where needed. We have also delivered many food parcels to families in hardship supported by Sainsburys and have continued to ring and support families and school staff during this time. It is of course a very uncertain time and we have been there as a source of information and support to both families and partners going forward we are conscious that there are many families that are suffering during this time and that mental health will be very much at the forefront as a consequence.

    The Living Room

    Its business as usual for us at The Living Room – the only change is that the group sessions are held via ZOOM and not in person.  Group numbers are steady and for those that cannot join via the internet, we are providing telephone support, often on a daily basis.  We plan to continue with this arrangement until advised that contact restrictions are eased.

    We are holding between six and nine group counselling sessions daily, facilitated by counsellors from each of our three staff teams that were originally based in Stevenage, St Albans and Watford.

    While we did have to close our doors for a few weeks to new clients, our triage service is fully up and running to welcome all new clients into our service.  Please call 0300 365 0304 or complete the referral form; https://www.livingroomherts.org/referral  A dedicated triage counsellor will contact the individual and complete the initial assessment, via telephone or ZOOM.  If the client meets our criteria, they are then handed over to a key worker, who has experience and specialism in the identified addiction.  There is an expectation that all new clients will join established group counselling sessions via ZOOM.

    As we are aware that some clients are experiencing increased stress on their relationships during this time, from June all of our clients will have an opportunity to join RELATE facilitated relationship sessions or 1 to 1 counselling, in addition to the daily group sessions.  Please note this opportunity is only open to clients that are attending The Living Room.

    Our crèche – usually only available to Stevenage clients, has opened their vital doors to support all clients with children aged up to 12 years old.  The staff facilitated two sessions on each Monday, Wednesday and Friday with a variety of activities including craft ideas, cooking, yoga, action signing to name but a few.  This service is also provided during school holidays.

    We provide regular email communications to clients and supporters via our SHOUT OUT and we put our updates on social media @LivingRoomHerts (Twitter, Instagram and Facebook) and our website www.livingroomherts.org.  Please sign up to received your updates via our website.

    During the first week of June we will be celebrating Volunteers Week by running a media campaign, publishing short video clips from staff, expressing the positive impact volunteers achieve during their time with us.

    Welwyn Hatfield & Hertsmere Bulletin

    Updated May 2020

    We are collating the updates we receive for the services into district bulletins. If you would like to include your service update/news for this area please email familiesfirst.support@hertfordshire.gov.uk and please put "Newsletter update" in the subject box, thank you.

    For countywide updates, please also visit our Partner Updates page.

    Coming soon!

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