Families First News

Front page - Welcome


Dear Partners,

Welcome to the latest edition of Families First News. The beginning of the new year has been very busy for all early help services, with some great work taking place across the county and once again we have a very full edition. We have great news on the Supporting Families Earned Autonomy decision, along with information on half term activities, news on the Relationship Support Courses for Parents & Carers and much more.

Don't forget to visit our learning and development articles where you can find out how Hertfordshire County Council are funding free Mental Health First Aid Training for volunteers and staff at foodbanks, community spaces, faith and community groups.

In other news, the SEND Priority Action and Improvement Plan was published in January, in response to the Ofsted/ CQC Area SEND Inspection report.

The SEND inspection report for the Hertfordshire area partnership (covering the council and health services) gave us 2 "priority" areas we need to urgently fix, and 5 other areas where we must also show improvement. We have a detailed plan to make things better.

The plan was reviewed and approved by Ofsted/ CQC and is available to view on the Local Offer. The DfE have also issued an improvement notice to us today. This is standard practice in these circumstances and our Priority Action and Improvement Plan will ensure we meet the requirements of the notice. View the Priority Action Plan

We hope you enjoy this edition of Families First News and please encourage your teams to sign up to receive their own copy!

As always, please do let us have your comments and suggestions for what you would included in future editions by emailing familiesfirst.support@hertfordshire.gov.uk.

Thank you for reading,

Kind regards 

The Development Team

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The latest news

Great News on Supporting Families Earned Autonomy

Great news – we are pleased to announce that Hertfordshire has been awarded Earned Autonomy status and is now part of only 14% local authorities in England who have successfully gone through this process.  

The current arrangements for Supporting Families funding is an upfront grant received in April and then further funding received quarterly based on successful outcomes for families we have supported (you may know this as payment by results).  

The process to achieve Earned Autonomy status started with a partnership self-assessment followed by a visit to Hertfordshire in October from a number of central government department lead advisors where we had the opportunity to demonstrate our strong partnership commitment, data arrangements, and outcomes achieved for children, young people and families.  

We have recently received notification that we were successful in achieving Earned Autonomy status. The benefits to Hertfordshire for achieving this status are:

  • having a national profile owing to the recognition that we have achieved a high standard of maturity for our early help partnership.
  • being one of a small number of areas that will have more of a say in guiding future national policy and in showcasing our approach as best practice.
  • receiving all our allocated funding upfront; whilst this is not additional money this will help improve our ability to plan for the next 12 months.

This achievement would not have happened without the fantastic commitment and motivation from professionals at all levels across Hertfordshire County Council Children’s Services and from all the partners we work with (including frontline, operational and strategic).   

We recognise that on the frontline across the partnership, you are all under immense pressure to support families in the best way you can and the evidence and paperwork you have provided regarding achieved outcomes with families has been pivotal in this success. This status recognises your help, contribution, and on-going support.  

We are all aware of the current financial outlook and whilst Earned Autonomy does ensure an agreed amount of funding for the supporting families agenda, we still need to contribute to the councils ongoing financial situation.  Receiving the grant at the start of the financial year will, however, provide us with the opportunity to plan for current and changing demands in an innovative and efficient way. 

For more information on the Supporting Families, please visit Supporting Families - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)



Turnaround Programme now delivering across Hertfordshire

What is Turnaround?

Turnaround is a Ministry of Justice funded programme for children and young people aged 10-17 years old on the cusp of entering the youth justice system. It aims to improve outcomes for children and young people by reducing the likelihood of further offending by providing support at the earliest point. 

The programme has been developed with the Supporting Families model of early intervention in mind and therefore takes a whole family approach with the following principles:

  • One Assessment – strengths-based
  • One Plan – evidence-based interventions and developed in collaboration
  • One Lead Practitioner – young people will be allocated with a dedicated Turnaround Intervention Worker who will work also work with the wider family.

A Turnaround Intervention Worker will be based in each of our 4 Specialist Adolescent Service Hertfordshire (SASH) area teams.

Who is eligible?

Children or young people, aged 10-17 years old, must have met one of the following in the last three months to meet eligibility for Turnaround.

  • Subject to No Further Action (NFA) decision
  • Interviewed under caution following arrest or subject to a criminal investigation attending a voluntary interview
  • Subject to a Community Resolution
  • Received a first-time youth caution (not a conditional caution)
  • Released Under Investigation (RUI) or subject to Pre-Charge Bail (PCB)
  • Discharged by a court
  • Acquitted at court
  • Fined by court
  • Those who have come to the notice of agencies with enforcement powers for repeated involvement in anti-social behaviour
  • Those involved in anti-social behaviour who have received:
  • Community Protection Warning/Notice (CPW/N)
  • Acceptable Behaviour Contract (ABC)
  • Civil Orders for ASB

 Turnaround does not require admission of guilt by a child referred and joining the programme is voluntary.

Who is not eligible for Turnaround?

The following children and young people are not currently eligible for Turnaround:

  • Those open on a Child Protection (CP) plan
  • Those open to Early Help (or awaiting a Families First assessment)
  • Child Looked After (CLA)
  • Child in Need (CiN)
  • Care Leaver
  • Those who have a current or have had a previous Youth Justice intervention (irrespective of time passed)

How do I refer?

Referrals must be made via the dedicated web form.

All referrals must have informed consent from the child/young person and their parent/carer at the point of referral. This can be verbal consent.

Further Information

You can find the referral form and other information, including an e-leaflet for young people and families being referred which explains more about Turnaround, on our dedicated webpage: Turnaround Programme | Hertfordshire County Council

If you have any questions about whether a young person is eligible or to arrange an informal joint visit, please contact a member of the team Turnaround@hertfordshire.gov.uk

Relationship Support - Courses for Parents & Carers

Family and Health Services Commissioning offer training, resources and courses for parents and carers to support the reduction of parental conflict and improve outcomes for children impacted by conflict.


Courses are for all Hertfordshire residents and include:

  • OnePlusOne’s digital interventions – 3 online courses aimed at new parents, intact parents and parents that are separated
  • Parenting When Separated – 6 week group based course for separated parents
  • Relationship support for parents and carers of children with SEND – 2 online courses delivered by Family Lives for separated and intact parents and carers of children with SEND
  • Stronger Relationships – 6 week online course delivered by the Race Equality Foundation to support separated and intact parents and carers, courses are also offered in other languages

Further details and how to refer can be found on Relationship support for parents | Hertfordshire County Council

Professionals Training

  • Training in OnePlusOne’s digital offer to support professionals to feel more confident to identify conflict and use the digital resources to support parents and carers improve their relationship quality.

If you would like to access this training for free please contact EHCommissioning@hertfordshire.gov.uk

Become a Safe Space volunteer mentor

Would you like to become a Safe Space volunteer mentor for young people in Hertfordshire and support them to overcome challenges, achieve their goals and reach their potential?


Safe Space provides mentoring for young people aged 11-19 (25 if they are care leavers or have a learning disability) who live or go to school/college in Hertfordshire. Mentors are given training before being matched with a young person who would benefit from 1:1 mentoring support to help them reach their potential

See more opportunities by Safe Space

Role of the mentor

As a volunteer mentor you would meet with your young person once a week for up to an hour, at a time and place in the community convenient to you both. Usually the mentoring relationship is for 6 months but can be longer or shorter depending on the need.

Following an initial 2 day training programme and required checks, volunteer mentors are matched with young people based on personality and interests but also by location.

As a volunteer mentor you would gain trust from the young person you are working with and provide valuable support in being able to help them work towards goals, overcome challenges, give advice or just provide a listening ear. (Minimum age 21)

You will be supported by a Mentoring Co-ordinator and ongoing training and support groups are provided.

Upcoming Training Dates:-

Cohort 1

Friday 24h Feb 10-4
Monday 27th Feb 5-7pm
Tuesday 28th February 5-7pm
Saturday 4th March 9-12.30

Cohort 2

Saturday 4th March 9-12.30
Friday 11th March 10-4
Saturday 12th March 10-12.30

If you are interested, please download an application form and send to mentoringmailbox@hertfordshire.gov.uk

Also any questions should be sent to mentoringmailbox@hertfordshire.gov.uk


Grants from £10,000 to £50,000 - applications NOW OPEN!

Hertfordshire County Council are offering grants for grassroots services in the County, who are supporting underrepresented groups, for whom traditional domestic abuse services are not suitable or accessible.

The ‘Hertfordshire Grassroots Grants Fund’ is being delivered in partnership with Hertfordshire Community Foundation, who are managing the funding on behalf of the County Council’s Strategic Partnerships Team.

Following a grant award, and upon delivery of specialist domestic abuse training where needed, services will be expected to provide domestic abuse support to those subjected to domestic abuse that access the service.

To be eligible, services must:

  • support a specific group of people or community.
  • address identified gaps in provision for those subjected to domestic abuse currently in Hertfordshire. This will include support for anyone from any of the community groups listed below:
  • Male
  • LGBTQ+
  • Older people (over 65)
  • Black or from other globally diverse communities
  • At risk of or experiencing multiple disadvantages
  • Refugees/asylum seekers
  • Those with No Recourse to Public Funds (NRPF)
  • From the gypsy or traveller community
  • People with disabilities
  • People who are Neurodiverse
  • Other groups who do not access traditional domestic abuse services.

Organisations can bid for a maximum of £50,000 per year. Successful organisations will receive funding until the end of June 2025 with no need to reapply for the next year’s payment.

Applications close 7 March 2024. Find out more and apply!

HFL Education Spring term Online Safety Newsletters

We are pleased to share two new spring term 2024 Online Safety Newsletters. One for Parents & Carers and one for professionals.

Both newsletters feature a range of guidance, news, links and updates about online safety for all phases, with particular reference to the current situation, recent developments and concerns.

Our newsletter for staff includes reviews and details about:

  • Safer internet day 2024
  • Keeping children safe in education: funded webinar
  • CEOP – Childs Exploitation and Online Protection

Our newsletter for parents and carers includes reviews and details about:

  • Developing online safety skills together
  • EE mobile and Internet Matters

Both editions can be downloaded from the HFL website and the Grid.

If you’d like any more information please let me know or contact the Wellbeing team at wellbeing@hfleducation.org or visit Online safety in schools | HFL Education.

Drop in Groups for Hertfordshire families

This Spring we have lots of fun activities for families!

As the cost of living continues to rise, it helps that all our sessions are free and also drop-in. Run by professional, qualified staff in Early Years, our groups offer a wide range of activities for you and your children to enjoy and play together. They are an opportunity for you to meet other local families and get advice and support from the Family Centre team. As well as lots for under 5’s to enjoy! Our regular groups include.

  • Baby Group (babies to pre-walkers) - drop in and meet other families with young babies in a supportive, stimulating and friendly environment. This session is for babies to play and for you to discover more about their development and support your own wellbeing as a new parent.
  • Active Rhyme Time (Baby and Toddler) – a fun session including active rhymes and songs for you and your baby and toddler. The groups are a great way to meet other families and develop your child's communication and physical skills.
  • Physical Fun (18 months +) - join the team for a fun, active session. A way to meet other families and enjoy lots of fun games and play opportunities to support your child with their physical development.
  • Family Fun (18 months +) - fun sessions with a wide range of activities for you and your children to play together, meet other local families and the Family Centre team. As well as lots for Under 5's to enjoy, there will be activities for siblings up to the age of 8.

These groups run at different venues across Hertfordshire and you can drop into any of them, there is no need to book*. Family Support staff will be on hand to answer any questions that you may have and if you need any extra help, they can point you in the right direction. Find out details of sessions near you on our What’s On page.


*Please note that in Hertsmere, Physical Fun and Family Fun at 96 Shenley Road are bookable sessions.


Permission to play no matter your age as free events hit Herts

Modern life can be a serious business and, whether you’re eight or eighty, everyone needs some space and time to feel carefree. That’s why over 10,000 people across the country are now taking part in ParkPlay events. The great news for Hertfordshire residents is that this month sees the launch of, not one, but two new regular ParkPlay events here in our county. They’re designed to offer people of all ages two hours of free, informal games and activities every Saturday morning in local parks and green spaces.

The new events will launch at Jackmans Creamery, Letchworth on 17th February and Aycliffe Park, Borehamwood on 2nd March. They follow the successful launch of Hertfordshire’s first-ever ParkPlay location at Cedars Park, Waltham Cross in 2023 and will pave the way for further locations that are expected to be announced in the county later in the year.

The events are FREE to attend and run from 10:00 to 12:00 every Saturday.

Participants simply need to register themselves in advance at the relevant web page below, then head along to the park on the day and look for the ParkPlay flag.

ParkPlay Jackmans Creamery: https://park-play.com/parks/jackmans/ 

ParkPlay Aycliffe: https://park-play.com/parks/aycliffe/ 

Explaining more about ParkPlay founder Rick Jenner said,

“After a stressful, busy week, lots of people enjoy mucking about playing and hanging out with their friends and neighbours at ParkPlay. We connect people and build community. ParkPlay is tackling some of the most pressing social issues of our time - lack of exercise, isolation, mental health and the need for escape. As we recover from Covid and now face the cost-of-living crisis it’s never been more important to give communities free ways to connect and boost their wellbeing.” 

 Existing ParkPlay attendees added,

"I was looking for community activities to get involved in and I came across ParkPlay. From the first Saturday that I went along I loved it. I am retired now but ParkPlay gives me the opportunity to meet other people of all ages and have fun."

"We go along to ParkPlay as a family every Saturday morning and we all love it. It gives us the opportunity to take away the stresses of the week and just enjoy ourselves. This is an amazing community event each week that we would recommend to people of all ages. Come along and join in, you won’t be disappointed."

ParkPlay was launched to encourage everyone to be more active outdoors and bring communities together. It was made possible by the support of Sport England. At a local level, Hertfordshire County Council has played a crucial role in providing funding, with further partnerships being established with North Herts Council, Hertsmere Borough Council, InspireAll, Active In The Community and Herts Sport & Physical Activity Partnership to get these new ParkPlay events off the ground.

To find out more and to keep up to date with the latest news about the new ParkPlay events go to www.facebook.com/JackmansParkPlay and https://www.facebook.com/AycliffeParkPlay/ .

Half Term Activities

Below are a few of the activities taking place over February half-term (19-23). Please check out the criteria on the individual service website.

The Fit and Fed project will be running at February half-term (on the Holdbrook Estate in Waltham Cross. Please poster for details.

Apex 360 are running High Five camps (formerly named Fit, Fed and Red in the districts below) during half term. Details of the camps can be found on the website here: https://apex360.co.uk/highfive/ and bookings can be made via the Playwaze Booking Platform.

  • Ascot Road Primary School – Watford
  • Greenfields Primary School – Watford
  • Lime Walk Primary School - Hemel Hempstead
  • Mandeville Primary School - St Albans

Check out what SPACE have to offer this half term for children with Autism, ADHD and Neurodiverse conditions:- SPACE HERTFORDSHIRE Events | Eventbrite

Check out what's on at the Family Centres Family centre events - what's on in Hertfordshire (hertsfamilycentres.org)

Children and young people’s healthy weight survey

Can we ask our Families First Partners for your support with getting children and young people and any parents/carers to complete the following surveys.

The survey will ask for views on subjects such as weight management, fitness, nutrition, and overall health. The purpose of gathering this information is to give services users an opportunity to feedback as well as enable effective commissioning and service delivery that meets the needs of Hertfordshire residents.

For Parents/Carers

If you have had experience of our children and young people’s Healthy Weight Service (provided by BeeZee Bodies), or you have views on this topic, we want to hear from you.

Your views are important and can help us understand how to provide services in the future.

Our survey will ask you about things like weight management, fitness, and nutrition, and you’ll have the chance to win a £50 food voucher.


For children and young people

If you are a young person aged 8-18 living in Hertfordshire, we want to know if you have been helped by our Healthy Weight Service and what you think about things like being a healthy weight, keeping fit and eating well.

Please fill in our survey. Your ideas will help us understand how to help people in the future.

You can ask a parent or carer to help you if you want to.

You’ll have the chance to enter a prize draw to win a £50 sports shop voucher.


The surveys are open until Sunday 11th February 24.

Thank you


Moments Matter, Attendance Counts

Improving school attendance is everyone’s business and, to tackle the challenge we face, we need to work together. The Government is launching a national campaign to remind parents and carers of the importance of school attendance.

A toolkit has been prepared for schools, but we would like to share this as a useful resource for Families First Partners too.

The purpose of this toolkit is to provide schools with off-the-shelf products they can use to support the campaign and create a national moment around attendance.

The campaign strapline is “moments matter, attendance counts”. Messaging for the communications have been developed from research into parental attitudes, as well as two local authority pilots at the end of 2023.

Campaign messages aim to primarily reach those parents and carers whose children are taking preventable odd days of absence – or “avoidable absence” –
rather than children who face greater barriers to attendance, such as those with long term medical needs or special educational needs and disabilities.

We hope that you will support the campaign by promoting your own messages to parents.

View the Toolkit here

Learning & development

HSCP Learning & Development Programme


HSCP provide a wide variety of learning programmes and workshops across Hertfordshire to develop skills for safeguarding children, young people and adults.

We use this page to give you some quick links through to the HSCP learning programmes:-

Recent 7 Minute Briefings

  • Abusive Head Trauma in Babies - 7 Minute Briefing

  • 7 minute briefing to support professionals to understand what parental consent is. It has been kept short and on one page, using language that is accessible to all professionals.
  • Also a 7 Minute Briefing on the Bruising Policy .  This briefing can also be found on our website –Resources/Year of Learning.

  • 7 minute briefing on Medical Neglect from HSCP.

Free Mental Health First Aid Training

As part of the ongoing response to the cost-of-living crisis,  Hertfordshire County Council are funding free Mental Health First Aid Training for volunteers and staff at foodbanks, community spaces, faith and community groups. We are working with Hertsmere Borough Council who are helping to co-ordinate this across Hertfordshire so please do promote to within your localities.    

The 2-day Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) courses will be held on Monday 25th and Tuesday 26th March 2024, with further dates to be announced.

The course will take place at Farnham House, Stevenage. To register for the course, please follow the link below and ensure you input your full name and email address:


The link will direct you to a form in the MHFA England website requesting the following details:

  • Name and email address
  • If you require accessible course materials? YES/NO

If yes, to specify. For example: large print/video captions or materials compatible with a screen reader. You will not have to input your home or work address.

Please note:

Places are limited, register as soon as possible!

  • Course delivery on the 25 & 26 March
  • Course certificate sent via email once you complete the full course.

Hertfordshire County Council know many people visiting community spaces and foodbanks require support and we will be offering a Resource Guide, marketing information, access to Togetherall and free Suicide Prevention Training as additional help to organisations  to aid all our residents in need.  This is a partnership with Hertsmere Borough Council and are grateful for the work done by Jyoti  Bhojani to commission. 

Download the leaflet here


My Baby's Brain courses for professionals

You can now book onto our redesigned ‘My Baby’s Brain’ full day courses for professionals working with young children and parents:

My Baby’s Brain introduces practitioners, who work with children aged 0-3 years old, to the key principals of neuroscience and how they can help parents, children and babies form strong attachments that will encourage healthy development.

My Baby’s brain has been redesigned and will now be delivered virtually over one day. We are also offering Deep Dive Webinars to delve into topics such as shame even further! The following trainings are available:

    1. My Baby’s Brain Universal (strand B) – 1-day virtual training for practitioners delivering targeted services to children and families e.g., Family Safeguarding and Specialist Services, Family Centre practitioners & specialist midwives.
    • Monday the 12th of February 2024 at 9.30am-3pm
    1. My Baby’s Brain Deep Dive Webinar: ‘Beyond shame: developing a positive sense of identity’ - for practitioners who work with children aged 0-3 years old and their families that have already completed My Baby’s Brain training (strand A or B).
    • Wednesday the 6th of March 2024 at 11am-12.30pm *Please note, content of this Deep Dive session is to be confirmed.

    How to book your place: Those who have previously completed My Baby’s Brain training or are booked to complete strand A or B training will be sent a link via email to book a place on this training.

    Link to book your place: Strand B Registration Link


    You can find further information and check out Frequently Asked Questions at My Baby's Brain - for Professionsals (hertfordshire.gov.uk) or email us at ehcommissioning@hertfordshire.gov.uk


    My Teen Brain - online training

    The Early Help Commissioning Team are pleased to announce the upcoming FREE  My Teen Brain Online Training course for Hertfordshire practitioners.  This 1-day CPD course is for those working with parents of teenagers and/or working with teenagers in Hertfordshire. It provides an opportunity to understand teenage brain development and the adolescent developmental process and consider both risk and resilience. It includes ideas and strategies for professionals working with teenagers and their parents to help them cope with challenging feelings and behaviour and to support young people in an emotionally healthy context. The day brings together the latest understanding from neuroscience and developmental psychology and the principles of The Nurturing Programme from Family Links The Centre For Emotional Health.

    It you are interested in attending one of the dates later in the year, please email EHcommissioning@hertfordshire.gov.uk

    29th February 24

    10am – 3pm

    Book here

    19th March 24

    10am – 3pm

    Book here


    Money Advice Unit Training Programme, Winter 2023

    The Money Advice Unit Training Programme and booking form for WINTER 2023 is now available.

    All the courses are free of charge but please note we will only accept bookings from organisations in Hertfordshire. Due to demand, we only allow a maximum of two participants from each organisation per course.

    If you want to book for more than one person, please complete a separate booking form for each person.

    Once you return the completed booking form(s) to us, the attendees will receive a booking confirmation email within 5 working days. Please check your junk folder as sometimes our emails go to the junk folder straight away.


    View the latest edition of Herts Adviser.

    Workforce Shadowing

    The vision for Families First training and development is to create a skilled, confident and resilient multi-agency workforce that supports whole family working.

    Workforce shadowing provides a great opportunity to find out more about other services, what they do and how they might be able to support you in your work. It also enhances communication across agencies and helps strengthen and develop professional relationships, building local networks.

    If you would like to organise a workforce shadowing placement for either yourself or a team member please complete the form on this page stating the service you would like to shadow and the preferred district and we will match you to a shadowing opportunity. 

    The following services have offered to host shadowing opportunities in either in person or virtually:-

    • Citizens Advice (Broxbourne/St Albans/North Herts)
    • Childcare provision
    • CGL
    • Domestic Abuse Support
    • Families First Panels Team
    • Family Support Service, Family Centre
    • Herts Mind Network
    • Herts Sports Partnership 
    • MIND in Mid Herts
    • ASB Team, District Council, Three Rivers
    • Housing Support, District Council
    • Intensive Family Support Team (IFST)
    • Local School Partnerships
    • Police
    • Public Health Nursing
    • Schools Early Years Provsion 
    • Specialist Adolescent Services Hertfordshire (SASH)
    • Services for Young People
    • Supporting Families Practice Team

    Additionally, if you would like to add your service to the above list, again please email us with your contact details, service and district.


    Please take a look at the page, bookmark and share with teams, where appropriate.

    Workforce development (hertfordshire.gov.uk)

    Suicide Prevention Training

    The Suicide Prevention Network involves more than 20 organisations. Our vision is to make Hertfordshire a county where no-one ever gets to a point where they feel suicide is their only option.

    Suicide Prevention Training Courses (suicidepreventionherts.org.uk)

    Suicide Bereavement support

    New upcoming dates for fully funded CDP suicide bereavement training, delivered by Harmless.

    Those attending will benefit from the following learning outcomes:

    • The magnitude of suicide bereavement
    • Suicide loss as a unique form of complex bereavement
    • ‘Complicated grief’, trauma, and other individual responses to suicide
    • The wider impact of bereavement on those exposed to or affected by suicide
    • The stigma and shame associated with suicide and bereavement
    • Bereavement by suicide as a unique risk factor for suicide
    • Responding to those bereaved by suicide, and how we can help to support them
    • Key UK strategic guidance and research on best practice in shaping services to incorporate suicide bereavement support
    • Postvention: what is means and why it matters
    • A local service perspective: CHUMS work supporting those affected

    Click here for more information, dates and booking details 

    Difference we're making

    Families First - Performance Data Report

    You may be interested to view our Families First Performance Data report for the period October 2022 - September 2023.

    The report looks at Families First Assessments that took place within the period and highlights the presenting needs and outcomes broken down by district along with information about other support for families.


    Safe Space Mentoring Annual Event

    On Saturday 20th January some our fantastic volunteer mentors came together for the Safe Space Annual event. We were joined by Cllr Fiona Thomson (Deputy Leader Hertfordshire County Council, Cabinet Member Children, Young People and Families, Councillor for Handside and Peartree, WGC) who presented the Mentor of the Year Awards, affectionately referred to as the MOTYs.

    Before announcing the winners of the awards, the group took part in a training session on the Social Graaaacccees to consider how our personal and social identity may influence how we understand ourselves and others. There were some interesting discussions and reflections about how our mentors engage with their young mentees and how social graaaacccees affect relationships.

    The winners of the 2023 MOTYs, which are nominated by their mentees were:

    Mentor of the Year- Iain Bristow

    Runner-up- Jo Fisher

    New mentor of the Year- Mark Sawyer

    Co-ordinator’s Award- Nick Corrigan

    Long service awards (for 10+ years)- Paula Horsnell and Jayne Mouser

    The Mentor of the Year and Runner Up are chosen from nominations from young people that have been supported during the year. They are contacted and asked to complete a form asking if and why they would like to nominate their mentor.  It is lovely to receive their replies and read the difference they feel mentoring has made to them. Below are the comments received about the winner Iain:

    My mentor, Ian has improved my confidence a lot. When I first met Ian I was very quiet and kept my head down for the first few sessions but he was very patient with me. We talked through everything I wanted to work on and mine was ordering at shops. So, we decided to meet at costa and every week we worked on it. He challenged me but in a good way. We came up with loads of ideas to achieve my goal such as making a script, him coming up with me and many more. I eventually achieved my goal! The sessions would also be very fun and I would look forward to them every week. I am homeschooled so it was nice to have someone too talk about my week too and discuss interests and someone be interested about it. Even though my sessions have ended now I still rember all my skills” and find it so much easier to socialise and I like helping other people with my skills because thats what Ian did with me!”

    After receiving his award as Mentor of the Year, Iain spoke passionately about how one of the other mentors, Adrian Whyle, who has been a Safe Space mentor since 2006, had not only introduced Iain to the mentoring programme in 2016, he had also mentored him as a teenager when he needed some additional support.

    Amazing work worth celebrating!

    IFST Christmas Party

    Watford and Three Rivers Intensive Family Support Team held their annual Christmas party on Wednesday 7th December.  It was well attended by families, one little girl declaring it was the best party she had ever been too!  Mr Marvel came along to provide the entertainment and performed tricks for all ages from 3 years up to 12 years.  Mr Marvel was fantastic, keeping both children and adults spellbound with his magic and providing lots of laughter too; even producing a live rabbit during one trick!

    After a break for food the party finished with a disco with parents and staff joining in the dancing.  The team would like to say a big thank you to Mr Marvel and hope he is free to come again next year.

    Kaotic Angels (LEMC) Charity - donations

    This charity works across Stevenage and the local area reducing food poverty by running food rescue hubs and a monthly ‘Walk the Bridge’ wellbeing support event to raise awareness of people’s mental health difficulties. They will consider any challenge and are open and approachable. They provided the Stevenage and North Herts Intensive Family Support Team with a huge amount of toys, some new and some second hand which allowed us to give out as Christmas presents to all of the families we work with.

    Some of the comments received back were:

    ‘Thank you so much it’s really useful especially this year’
    ‘Can’t wait to play the Dog Bingo – thank you so much’
    ‘It will really help out as we have not been able to buy much this year’ 

    Even the teenagers got things such as socks or toiletries. It was lovely to see the smiles on peoples faces at this time of year that can feel very pressured for parents.

    Children's Services Awards 23

    The Children's Services Awards took place on 7th December and the following staff were nominated, below are some snippets from the nominations made:-

    WINNER: Eve Righelato, Outstanding Individual Contribution

    "Eve has risen to the challenge of supporting parents and children with empathy, kindness, creativity and perseverance. She has gone above and beyond to help keep children safe by working out of hours, often at short notice. She knows each individual child's lived experience. Children find her easy to relate to and to share with because she is genuinely interested in each one, knows how to ask the right questions to elicit meaningful responses. Her voice of the child work has been invaluable in ensuring families are supported by the right services. Not only does she go above and beyond to support families, her case noting is kept up to date; she follows advice and she is a great team player, always ready to help out colleagues too.

    Thank you Eve, we love having you in our team!"

    NOMINEE: Lauren Penrose received a nomination for Leader of the Year

    "Lauren is an exceptional leader who has worked creatively and tirelessly to develop IFST to meet the needs of the families they support. She has achieved amazing results by doing the following:

    • Leading by example - she will support frontline staff by sharing her knowledge and experience, even in hands on ways when necessary. She ensures she develops positive relationships with all staff in all the team, which is no mean feat!
    • Developing the service - she has supported IFST to improve and standardise good practice across the county, to ensure families are not experiencing a postcode lottery. Part of the way she has achieved this is by bringing team managers together to develop a service wide vision, as well as giving us a forum to share frustrations and successes;
    • Ensuring safe practice - Lauren is a dynamic, energetic leader, but she is also clear that our wellbeing is key to ensuring we don't burn out. She is a great believer in modelling good practice, and encourages us to have clear boundaries so that our teams do as well, for example turning phones and laptops off outside core hours!"
    • Lauren shows determination and commitment in all she does and strives to have a positive impact on her workforce, often without the recognition she deserves

      She is a font of knowledge and if she does not know she will find out!

    NOMINEE:-  Penny Smith received a nomination for Leader of the Year

    • Penny is hard working and motivated. Penny shares a lot of empathy towards her staff, and will always check in with them. Penny is funny caring and always on hand when needed.
    • Penny is committed to her job, she will form the best professional emails, clear guidance and actions when needed.

    Separately, Karina Saunders who is a Family Intervention Worker in the Welwyn Hatfield Intensive Family Support Team recently won a Children's Services You are a Star award:-

    You Are A Star award, congratulations!

    Read about Karina's good work:-

    "Karina has been working with a family who have a young daughter going through treatment for cancer. The family also have a new baby and a middle child. They were desperate for support but at the same time were struggling to allow professionals into their lives. Karina has worked tirelessly over the summer holidays to take the middle child to and from clubs, enabling him to get out of the house and have fun with other children. When the daughter became ill following chemo, Karina supported the family in any practical way she could, for example taking them to visit her in hospital, using family budget to buy food basics for them so they didn't have to worry about that. As they have seen Karina's level of compassion for them, the parents have begun to trust her and open up about how much they are struggling and are allowing her to support them emotionally. The mother has shared how much she appreciates talking to another adult and has been able to enjoy those conversations. She has also spoken about starting to bond with the new baby, which she hadn't been able to before. I believe that this has happened due to some of the stress being taken from them by the work that Karina is doing.

    Karina has certainly improved the lives of the family, even in the face of a very distressing situation. She has shown integrity by providing a first-class service, putting the family at the centre of the work, and going above and beyond to support them practically and emotionally. We are very proud of her!

    Karina has been a fantastic example of a committed, compassionate and hard-working family intervention worker. This has not only benefited this particular family, but it inspires us all to do the same."

    Families First Case Studies

    Following on from a programme of Celebrating Excellence in Early Help sessions run in Children’s Services, which aimed to highlight the Families First approach and also included contributions from some of our partners, we are sharing some of the recent case below:

    Case Study 1 - Intensive Family Support / Local Borough Council

    Scene Setting

    The Intensive Family Support team (IFST) began supporting this family of nine in Spring 2021.

    As support got underway the third youngest child Tia* was diagnosed with a terminal brain tumour and the family are struggling coming to terms with Tia’s diagnosis and her life expectancy of one year. Tia is 11 years old.

    On learning of Tia’s prognosis and following discussion with Keech Hospice an Occupational Therapist (OT) appointment was arranged for the family’s home. This assessment identified that the three-bedroom home was not suitable for end-of-life care and was not suitable for adaptation as the access was too narrow and steep for a ramp.

    The Family Intervention Worker (FIW) made contact with the local Borough Council’s Aids and Adaptions Team for support.


    Case Study 2 - Families First Assessment

    Scene Setting

    This case study provides some insight into the journey of Fran* and her family. Fran is an eight year old girl who worries about her mum, she knows mum is different when she is with her drinking friends. Fran’s Mum has a diagnosis of unstable personality disorder and has previously used drugs and alcohol as coping strategies, she has been in a cycle of poor mental health and whilst their wider family network have been supporting Fran and her mother they sought out some external support via a Families First Assessment.


    Case Study 3 - Employment Adviser/IFST

    Scene Setting:

    This case study provides some insight into the support provided to Sanz* from one of our Employment Advisers. Our Intensive Family Support Teams include Employment Advisers who provide tailored support in areas such as employability; taking time to understand skills and experiences, any barriers or challenges preventing employment, identification of any training to support employability, preparation of supporting statements and CVs and job search support, including mock interviews.

    Our Advisers can also provide guidance on how to navigate the benefits system, including benefit entitlements and claims, as well as how changes in circumstances impact benefits.

    They work in parallel with Family Intervention Workers. This case study summarises support given to Sanz, the mother, to support with employability and benefits.


    Case Study 4 - Local Schools Partnership

    Please share anonymised case studies highlighting how early help and partnership working has provided support to local families with us at familiesfirst.support@hertfordshire.gov.uk. Please ensure you have consent from the family.

    Help us promote the Families First Website

    Our Families First Website is a great central resource for early help support for families and young people, with links to many services such as mental health support, Services for Young People, SEND Local Offer, parenting courses etc along with a link to the Herts Directory and the Families First professionals area.

    We would like to encourage all partner agencies to help us promote the Families First website to parents and carers in Hertfordshire.

    Campaign Tools:

    Please add the web address to your own website:- https://www.hertfordshire.gov.uk/microsites/families-first/families-first.aspx

    Or use the QR Code for direct link to the Families First homepage:

    Download a QR code 

    Download a Families First Logo

    Social media

    Please follow Families First on Facebook and X (Twitter)

    Suggested post

    Image to post on your own social media channels, with the suggested text:-

    "All families need help and support at some point, please visit the Families First Website to find out about support available in your area". https://www.hertfordshire.gov.uk/.../families-first.aspx


    Please download our poster and display in your public facing space.

    Thank you in advance for your support with this campaign.

    Who's who

    Who's Who in Supporting Families

    Supporting Families Team

    Head of Family Support : Karen Dorney

    Service Managers:

    Lauren Penrose - Operations Manager Intensive Family Support Team

    Simon Gentry – Business Manager

    Sue Chapman - Service Manager, Families First Panels and Practice Team

    Chris OConnor - Service Manager, Development Team

    Intensive Family Support Teams

    The Intensive Family Support teams (IFST) work with families with multiple and complex needs who would benefit from intensive support.

    Find Contacts here:- Intensive Family Support Teams (hertfordshire.gov.uk)

    Families First Coordinators - How can they support you locally?

    As your local Senior and Families First Coordinators, we can offer support in all areas of the Families First Assessment. Please contact us if you are experiencing any difficulties or require further advice and guidance.  We can support you with challenges including:

    Speak to someone (hertfordshire.gov.uk)

    Development Team

    To contact the Supporting Families Development team email familiesfirst.support@hertfordshire.gov.uk

    Early Help Commissioning Team


    Safe Space


    Local area news

    East Herts & Broxbourne Local News

    Updates from the local districts

    Please use this page to promote any local events or webinars. Please send an email with the subject: FF News - Local News page with a link to your event and short description to familiesfirst.support@hertfordshire.gov.uk

    • Lots of really useful links for information on support for the cost of living is available onthe Citizens  Advice East Herts website (https://citizensadviceeastherts.org.uk/) from Energy saving tips, Cost of Living payments, and Fuel bills. Also download the Citizens Advice leaflet which gives times/dates of their drop-in 

    • Services for Young People (SfYP) youth work projects enable young people to develop their personal and social skills and increase their confidence, self-esteem and resilience. Get details of SfYP projects and information, advice and support services in your area here:

    SfYP East Herts Team projects
    SfYP Broxbourne Team projects

    • Broxbourne Council has produced a simple Cost of Living guide for residents - Download the January 24 Cost of Living Directory
    • Broxbourne Council is running a Youth Sports Night every Friday night from 4 to 6 at the Laura Trott Leisure Centre in Cheshunt. For more information, contact community@broxbourne.gov.uk or call 01992 785555 ext 5745
    • Active East Herts: The Sele Youth Project is running on Monday's 5.30pm to 7.30pm at the Hertford Wellbeing Hub (HWH) and the MUGA near the Sele Community Centre. For more info visit http://whatson.activeeastherts.org.uk/hertford-wellbeing-hub/
    • Healthy Hub East Herts are running drop-in sessions across the district for residents to pop in for FREE help and advice about anything they would like support with. A full list of dates and venues is on our website.
    • Boxercise Classes with Herts Disability Foundation
      Herts Sports Disability Foundation are pleased to be running Boxercise classes. Boxercise are boxing exercise classes for home-educated children with additional needs from ages 8 to 18, and adults with disabilities from ages 18 plus who would like some fun with others, whilst improving coordination and fitness. Sessions are adapted to the needs of the individuals in the session. To find out more information and to book a space, click here.

    Stevenage & North Herts Local News

    Updates from the local districts

    Please use this page to promote any local events or webinars. Please send an email with the subject: FF News - Local News page with a link to your event and short description to familiesfirst.support@hertfordshire.gov.uk

      • Services for Young People (SfYP) youth work projects enable young people to develop their personal and social skills and increase their confidence, self-esteem and resilience. Get details of SfYP projects and information, advice and support services in your area here:
      •  LGBTQ plus group (View poster) – If you are part of the LGBTQ plus community in Hertfordshire and would like support with your #Wellbeing or are looking to connect with others, you can join our LGBTQ plus peer support group last Tuesday of every month 4-6pm in Stevenage.  Email admin@mindinmidherts.org.uk for more information.
      • A new Community Hub in Stevenage Old Town is now open every Wednesday from 2pm to 4pm. The aim of the hub is to support anyone who is approaching the end of their life (within 12 months) and those caring for them – the time before someone dies is a difficult one – many people don’t want to acknowledge what’s happening and that can be so hard for those around them. Find our more here www.annerobsontrust.org.uk


      St Albans & Dacorum Local News

      Updates from the local districts

      Please use this page to promote any local events or webinars. Please send an email with the subject: FF News - Local News page with a link to your event and short description to familiesfirst.support@hertfordshire.gov.uk

      • Services for Young People (SfYP) youth work projects enable young people to develop their personal and social skills and increase their confidence, self-esteem and resilience. Get details of SfYP projects and information, advice and support services in your area here:
        SfYP St Albans Team projects

      SfYP Dacorum Team projects

      Services for Young People : Young People’s Hub - view the drop-in sessions here

      • Families in Focus are pleased to announce another free in person Parent Network support and information group starting on the last Wednesday of every month, 10am-12pm at St Albans Cycle Hub Cottonmill Community Centre Cottonmill Lane St Albans AL1 2EF. More info can be found here

      • Emotional Based School Avoidance - DSPL 7&8 and Services for Young People are organising some coffee mornings, which are aimed at parents and carers who have a child in year 7 - 11 who is not attending school as a result of emotional, mental health and wellbeing issues. The children and young people can also attend.  Find out more here
      • Community Action Dacorum Spring term: Please contact Simeon Dunlop, email: simeon@communityactiondacorum.org.uk for information on 2024 courses.

      • Dacorum DSPL8 - Delivering Special Provision Locally:-The Spring 2024 Parenting Courses and Support Brochure for Dacorum is now available to be viewed or download from our website, via: 


      Watford & Three Rivers, Hertsmere and Welwyn Hatfield Local News

      Updates from the local districts

      Please use this page to promote any local events or webinars. Please send an email with the subject: FF News - Local News page with a link to your event and short description to familiesfirst.support@hertfordshire.gov.uk

      • The Watford & Three Rivers IFST team have arranged a coffee morning at Otley Way focussing on SEN support for parents on 8th March at 10am. There will be a few short presentations from Speech, Communication, Language and Autism Team and SPACE and a chance to network with parents and to give advice re individual children and signpost to relevant services.  Please promote the families you work with using the invitation
      • Services for Young People (SfYP) youth work projects enable young people to develop their personal and social skills and increase their confidence, self-esteem and resilience. Get details of SfYP projects and information, advice and support services in your area here:

      • Sensory Tennis - free sensory tennis sessions with Get Set 4 Tennis. Suitable for adults with complex disabilities and sensory impairments Sensory Tennis

      • Family Centre Service: The Family Support Service have translated their support leaflet into to the following languages (click to download):-


      Welwyn Hatfield & Hertsmere

      • Services for Young People (SfYP) youth work projects enable young people to develop their personal and social skills and increase their confidence, self-esteem and resilience. Get details of SfYP projects and information, advice and support services in your area here:

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