Families First News

The latest news

Virtual Families First Practice and EHM system Training

We have adapted and have been delivering Families First Practice and EHM system virtually using MS Teams since April, with much success. Training had been tailored to individual needs, reflecting the varied levels of needs, including for those who are new to Hertfordshire’s Early Help delivery model and process, those who need a refresh, TAF member training and Short-Term work training.

Our Senior Families First Coordinators have delivered virtual training to 162 practitioners since April, of these, 133 were external practitioners, demonstrating excellent take up from partners. Local Senior Families First Coordinators and Families First Coordinators also continue to offer practice support, including individual case discussions, advice, support, escalations and EHM system support in their local areas.

Some feedback received from our partners …

“I just wanted to say a huge thank you to Therese for her ongoing support throughout the years. Every time I ask Therese for any help and support no matter what it involves, she is always very helpful and gets back to me very promptly. There are no silly questions, and she understands how busy we are as a school and always makes things as easy as possible for us. Without Therese we would be lost so thank you so much.”

Pastoral Lead and Mental Health Lead 

“I just wanted to let you know that you and your team are receiving really good feedback and reviews, whenever you are mentioned there are always such positive comments about the service. Always good to hear”

Triage Lead DSPL Area 9

 Families First Coordinators

We have a named Senior Families First Coordinator and Families First Coordinator covering each local double district to champion, promote and support effective use of Families First. They also provide information, advice, guidance, individual case support, training and practice support on Families First delivery model, processes and Early Help Module (EHM) system.

Find your Local Named Coordinators' contact details

Also please note that our Families First Helpdesk telephone is now active again and practitioners can call 01438 737575 between our core working hours 9am – 5pm Monday to Thursday and 9am- 4.30pm Fridays.



Neglect Matters campaign

In partnership with NSPCC, Hertfordshire's Safeguarding Children Partnership is launching a year-long ‘Neglect Matters’ campaign in 2021!

In order to make the campaign as effective and relevant as possible, we need parents and carers from across all parts of Hertfordshire to fill in a quick, 3-minute survey. The survey is completely anonymous and consists of only 8 questions so takes no time at all!

We really want to hear from a variety of parents and carers – whether biological parents, adoptive parents, grandparents, foster carers, and we want to hear from people of all communities and backgrounds.

Where possible can you share the following link to the survey with the families you work with in Hertfordshire and on your social media networks!  https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/DZ6KTPX

Suggested text for a social media post:-

Parents, carers, grandparents, foster carers of Hertfordshire - we need your help! Hertfordshire have teamed up with the NSPCC to run a local campaign next year & we need your views to help us shape it. Please take this 3-minute, anonymous survey: https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/DZ6KTPX

The ‘Parenting Together’ programme

Being a parent is tough - being a parent when your relationship with your partner or ex-partner isn’t going well is even tougher.

Parenting Together is one strand of the Reducing Parental Conflict Programme led by the Department of Work and Pensions.

This programme is funded and managed by the Department of Work and Pensions, but is being coordinated locally by Hertfordshire County Council on behalf of all participating local authorities.

Find out more about the programme at Parenting Together Programme

Remember, you can help parents by:

  • Talking to them about their relationships. Make sure they are aware that conflict can impact on their children and that there is help available. There is a toolkit and training to help you have these conversations at: www.hertfordshire.gov.uk/betterrelationships
  • Signposting them to self-help. Our Hertfordshire webpage has information for parents about relationships, and where to go for local and online help: www.hertfordshire.gov.uk/parentrelationships
  • Referring them to specialist support if they need it. Any professional or volunteer working with a family in Hertfordshire can refer parents to the Parenting Together Programme. This provides free evidence-based parental conflict support to parents, whether they are together or separated.


Are you Listening?

Hertfordshire Constabulary have asked us to share this powerful video with our Families First Partner Agencies, as it gives an impactive message on exploitation and hopes to raise awareness of a growing issue in the UK – known as ‘Child Criminal Exploitation’ (CCE).

The video has been developed by Leicester Police and we have agreement to share it across our Hertfordshire networks.


Support for families this Christmas

As we move into the winter period, and at any time, support continues to be available for vulnerable residents, carers and families in Hertfordshire accessed through HertsHelp (HH) who will triage clients’ needs taking and making appropriate referrals or signposting to relevant support services. Please click here for information from Hertfordshire County Council (HCC) about support for homelessness and those with complex needs. Please click here for information about the support that Herts Help can provide to vulnerable people.

We would really appreciate your support in spreading this useful information.

`Food Poverty' has certainly been in the headlines recently, and HCC and the Council’s Money Advice Unit is committed to playing it’s part in making sure children don’t go hungry.

It is vitally important that children get free school meals during term-time. As getting universal credit or other low-income benefits is one of the key ways to be eligible, the MAU has now got three major additions to its web pages – www.hertfordshire.gov.uk/benefits.

A free and simple-to-use benefit and budgeting calculator, supplied by Policy in Practice.

  • A short 30-40 minute self-teaching guide to Universal Credit
  • A link to the Healthy Start voucher scheme, to get free milk, fruit, vegetables and vitamins for pre-school children

More information about school meals themselves, and an eligibility-checker, can be found on: https://www.hertfordshire.gov.uk/services/schools-and-education/at-school/free-school-meals/free-school-meals.aspx.

More support for families this Christmas  

Please see the following list of organisations offering support to families this Christmas.

  • North Herts District Council have collated a list of support that food providers are offering over the festive period in North Herts, please click here.
  • The Salvation Army are continuing to support families this Christmas, for example by providing food parcels and distributing toys. More information can be found here: https://www.salvationarmy.org.uk/christmas-salvation-army. 

  • The Watford Salvation Army are also supporting people locally this Christmas and information about what they are doing can be found on their website: https://www.salvationarmy.org.uk/watford.

  • Jedidiah are a Hertford based charity providing Christmas lunch hampers for local families, which are really struggling. For further details about this organisation, please click here.

  • Buntingford and Villages Foodbank are currently supplying 65 Christmas hampers to local families. They will be delivering food parcels to those in need up to and over Christmas. Please email buntingford.foodbank@gmail.com if you have any questions about this great local initiative.

  • Citizens Advice can help families save money on their energy bills over the Christmas period. This winter, perhaps more than any other, heating your home efficiently and affordably is really important. New research from a survey commissioned by Ofgem and Citizens Advice found that one in three bill payers say they are using more energy than they usually would at this time of year. Take three simple steps to prepare for winter and avoid paying more than you need to:
    1. Check to see if you are eligible for discounts, grants and support*
    2. Switch your tariff or energy supplier to get the best deal
    3. Save money by becoming more energy efficient.

Find out more at https://bigenergysavingwinter.org.uk/.

  • Citizens Advice St Albans District is offering one to one advice on these three steps, as a phone appointment. They can help you switch tariff or supplier, apply for a grant, or resolve fuel debt issues or help with a complaint against a supplier. Email them on energy@castad.org.uk or phone 01727 811118 and ask for the Energy Champion to call you back.

    Information about more national initiatives

    Families First - Grants page

    Please also don’t forget to bookmark our grants page on the Families First portal, which we are keeping up-to-date with grants that we are made aware of.

    Additionally, please take a look at the HCC Money Advice Page with useful advice and resources to support families.

    Support for non-dependent drinkers

    The new alcohol team are here to support non-dependent drinkers over the phone and video call.

    Please take a look at the CGL website for information and advice for professionals and information on the referral process.

    They're keen to help anyone in Hertfordshire who may have increased their drinking during this time.

    Please click here for their bulletin with key service information.

    Work Routes continues to provide support!

    Great news our Work Routes contract has been extended again. We have already supported more than 1,000 people into employment, and can now continue helping Hertfordshire residents with free advice on upskilling, training, and starting work.

    Work Routes is funded by the Department of Work and Pensions to support anyone with a barrier to employment such as: a physical or mental health condition, homelessness, being 50 + years old, single parents, ex offenders, etc. We can also support anyone that has been out of work for 6 months regardless of any barrier to employment.

    Additionally, every participant using our service has their own dedicated Employment Adviser, which is trained in helping our participants overcome barriers to employment.

    Latest News

    • CV 360 is now live! Our interactive Online Career Centre now has a CV optimising tool which helps you tailor your CV and ensure it gets noticed. The Online Career Centre is a fantastic tool to prepare participants back into the workplace. It contains a number of courses, tools to do mock interviews, and assessment style interviews.
    • All our participants can now access our free online wellbeing check. Our free check assesses physical, emotional, social, and financial wellbeing - as well as growth mindset. Participants get their own personalised report that helps make informed, effective changes to improve their health.

    • Accredited training - Work Routes have partnered up with SPS Training to deliver a number of courses virtually, allowing participants to upskill themselves and add recent training to their CVs. SPS have a wide variety of courses available to all participants and are always happy to deliver courses based on the participant needs.

    • Referral opportunities

      In our Hertfordshire offices we work closely with Stevenage, Letchworth, Hatfield, Watford, Hemel Hempstead, Borehamwood, Waltham Cross, and St Albans Job Centres to support their participants back into work. Please get in touch with us if you would like to become a referral partner!

      How to refer onto Work Routes: Visit our website or call us on 0800 015 5332

      To speak to a member of the team call our office numbers below:

      Stevenage: 01992 5170 95

      Watford: 01923 471 106

      Waltham Cross: 07885 882 166

    Mum and Baby App launch

    The NHS is launching a new mum & baby app which is free for mums-to-be in Hertfordshire and West Essex. The app will provide all the information they need for their pregnancy, birth and beyond in a single source.

    The aim of the app is to improve women’s experiences of maternity care and ensure this is consistent no matter where they choose to give birth in the local area. From the start of pregnancy to early parenthood, this app will support women and their families with:

    • Choice on where to give birth; The Lister Hospital, Watford General Hospital or The Princess Alexandra Hospital
    • Access to essential information for all stages of the maternity journey
    • Personalised plans for their care during pregnancy, birth and beyond.

    It offers an easy-to-navigate screen, multiple links and videos of a range of useful topics to include; emotional and physical wellbeing, mental health concerns, advice for partners, preparing for labour, your stay in hospital, post-delivery care, baby care basics, mum and baby checks, recovering from different types of delivery and medical conditions and advice for when back at home. Personal preferences for each stage of the maternity journey can be documented, stored within the app for sharing with care providers, generating conversations that support collaborative and personalised care plans.

    The app will be available in both iOS and Android formats; go to your app store (Apple Store or GooglePlay) to download the app.


    SEND Advice for Parents & Carers

    The Role of the SENCo

    A page on the role of the SENCo is now live on the SEND Local Offer website. It explains to parents/carers what the SENCos do and has tips for parents on working well with them. It was co-produced with input from 16 parents from our SEND online feedback group who provided detailed feedback and discussion. The information was then checked and contributed to by a SENCO.

    The page can be viewed here: “Getting help at school from your SENCo”

    SEND Key Contacts - at a glance

    Our last Families First news included a link to an  'at a glance' list of telephone advice lines that offer advice and support on a range of issues about SEND.

    Please click here for a poster, which includes helpful SEND advice lines for parents and carers.


    Animating Families First!

    Our team have continued throughout the year to promote the Families First Portal, which has proved challenging not being able to take our information stand out to the public as planned. Nonetheless, visits to the portal have increased month by month and our social media following is growing too.

    We have also put together a short animated clip which we plan to use on social media platforms and it would be good to hear any feedback from partners, if you get a chance to take a quick look. The video follows the journey of a child and where support is available. Any feedback please email familiesfirst.support@hertfordshire.gov.uk


    Mental Health & Emotional Wellbeing Support

    With mental health being one of the predicted areas where we will see an increase in presenting needs, we have set out below some very useful links which we have received from the Families First partnerships. We have continued to re-run this article, as it has proven to be popular, but we are updating this information for each edition.

    Spot the signs of suicide risk and you could save a life. Please view the support available throughout winter

    The ‘Embers the Dragon’ emotional wellbeing platform is based on a broadcast quality cartoon featuring the vocal talents of national treasures Jo Brand and Penelope Wilton, and is all about a loveable cast of animals exploring different issues that affect their emotional wellbeing. With the support of central government and the National Institute for Health Research, our team of NHS mental health consultant practitioners and education specialists have created a full suite of materials for parents/carers, Early Years settings and schools around school readiness and emotional resilience for 4-7 year olds. We are delighted that due to support from Innovate UK we are now able to make a large part of the parenting programme available for free to Hertfordshire families at www.embersthedragon.co.uk. You can also find out more about Embers and engage with our team of wellbeing specialists directly at www.facebook.com/embersthedragon.

    South West Herts Partnership

    Please review the information about mental health and emotional wellbeing support for children and young people and adults.

    Stand-by-me bereavement support is an award-winning registered charity that was created to support bereaved children, young people and their families in North Hertfordshire and Stevenage.

    At the heart of our service is our innovative groupwork programme, staffed by highly trained and experienced volunteers. Run over a number of weekly sessions, it gives children and young people the opportunity to explore their feelings and talk about their loss as well as to meet other children who have had similar experiences.

    In 2016 Stand-by-me launched a new project called ‘Contact-me’ to give bereaved children additional support in schools.

    Please visit www.stand-by-me.org.uk or email info@stand-by-me.org.uk to find out more.

    Supporting children and young people’s mental health and wellbeing during coronavirus – Information for professionals

    Looking after your mental health and wellbeing during Coronavirus - Information for Children and Young People

    The new JUST TALK website provides a host of useful information to YP families and professionals during COVID 19: https://www.justtalkherts.org/just-talk-herts.aspx

    Healthy Young Minds in Herts: The below website has a Professionals, Schools, Parents/ Carers and Young Persons section. Information on emotional health and wellbeing support available for children and young people in Hertfordshire for school staff. https://www.healthyyoungmindsinherts.org.uk/    NOTE The schools section requires log in details

    YCH Services for Young People provides youth work, information, advice, guidance, work related learning and support for young people. Although face-to-face work is currently suspended, you can still contact a Youth Worker or Personal Adviser for one to one and project groupwork support by calling 0300 123 7538, emailing yc@hertfordshire.gov.uk or visit https://www.ychertfordshire.org/

    Supporting schools and colleges booklet - the Anna Freud Centre: This free booklet provides advice and guidance for school staff about how to help children and young people manage their mental health and wellbeing during times of disruption to their learning.

    Chathealth School Nursing texting service and the Health for Teens website. As part of our remaining services, during the Covid -19 pandemic, Chathealth offers support, advice and guidance to 11-19 year olds. They can text us from 9am-5pm, Monday to Friday and a School Nurse is operating the line during those times and they will get a response on that day, usually within the hour.

    The OLLIE Foundation is a charity dedicated to delivering suicide awareness, intervention and prevention training by empowering professionals and young adults in their own communities to lead suicide prevention activities.

    Bounce Forward are holding regular sessions for parents to build vital skills to help their children be more resilient during this uncertain time. To book visit: https://bounceforward.com/raising-resilience-free-session/

    Mind in Mid Herts: Are now able to offer FREE living well courses to the people of Hertfordshire via zoom. You do not need to be an existing service user or be diagnosed with a mental health problem to access- anyone can attend. More information and if you would like to refer someone please click this link to book on:


    Herts Mind Network: Please see the current timetable and support services for anyone struggling with their mental health.

    Their free one to one Peer Support service is also operating via telephone not face to face.

    They have offices in Letchworth, Borehamwood, Watford, Hemel, Waltham Cross, Bishops Stortford and Borehamwood. They offer support to anyone living in Hertfordshire.

    Barnet Council

    Barnet Council have produced a very user friendly "Back to School Guide for parents, carers and guardians" which could be very useful for supporting anxiety in getting children back to school.

    Here at The Counselling Foundation we offer a wide range of support, which includes specific support for clients experiencing bereavement during the coronavirus pandemic.   We would be keen to highlight our services within Communities 1st website and www.suicidepreventionherts.org.uk/.

    Every Mind Matters

    Most families have experienced upheaval in their daily lives during the pandemic. With children and young people now back at school or college, the new Public Health England (PHE) Better Health – Every Mind Matters campaign provides NHS-endorsed tips and advice to help children and young people’s mental wellbeing, and equip parents and carers with the knowledge to support them.

    The new advice available on the Every Mind Matters website has been developed in partnership with leading children and young people’s mental health charities, including Young Minds, The Mix, Place2Be and The Anna Freud Centre. It is designed to help parents and carers spot the signs that children may be struggling with their mental health and support them, and also provides advice that can help maintain good mental wellbeing. The site also provides tools to help young people build resilience and equips them to look after their mental wellbeing.

    Mental Health Services - contact numbers

    The wide range of support for people who have mental health concerns includes:

    • Herts Help – a signposting and advice service which can help direct people to the right support - 0300 123 4044 or email info@hertshelp.net
    • Hertfordshire Mind Network crisis helpline – 01923 256 391
    • NHS HPFT’s Single Point of Access - for people in a mental health crisis who live in Hertfordshire - 0300 777 0707 from 8am – 7pm, 01438 843322 out of hours or email: hpft.spa@nhs.net
    • Samaritans - 116 123, 24 hours a day, every day

    We hope you find these resources useful in supporting the families you work with.

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