December 2020

Families First News

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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.

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