February 2024

Families First News

Difference we're making

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."


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