Families First News

The latest news

Families First Awards

Some good news! 

As you will probably be aware we postponed our Families First Awards last year and although we were holding out in the hope that we would be able to celebrate these awards in person and enjoy time together, we have now made the decision to go ahead with these awards virtually on Friday 23rd April at 2pm.

The last year has really highlighted the importance of partnership working and all the good work that takes place across Hertfordshire. These awards will be an opportunity to celebrate your commitment and achievements in helping families in need and to recognise and say thank you to those that have gone above and beyond. There are 6 Team awards and 7 Individual awards, which includes one for the Unsung Hero, a new award that recognises the fantastic work undertaken by our very kind volunteers.

The nomination process has reopened from today and closes on 19th March! Please make your nominations at the link below /or QR code below via our easy to complete nomination form.


Or scan the QR code from your mobile phone:-

If you have previously made a nomination prior to postponement in 2020, we will be contacting you separately to check it is still valid (e.g person nominated is still in post).

Please send this email on to all your professional contacts to ensure as many people as possible get the opportunity to make a nomination.



Early Help System Guide - Thank you for your help!

We wish to thank everyone who contributed to the survey for our self-assessment of early help in the county ‘Early Help System Guide’. We had over 200 responses in ten days and your responses gave us a real insight into the progress that has been made in providing early help support for families. People commented on many positives and also identified areas for improvement. The overall results were very supportive of the arrangements we have in place to respond to family needs.

As well as enabling us to provide a robust response to the Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government, your evidence will help inform the refresh of the Early Help Strategy that will be undertaken this year. We are very grateful and appreciative of your support.’

Fit, Fed and Read is back!

Planning for the Fit, Fed & Read 2021 Easter programme has begun and Herts Sports Partnership are intending to deliver face to face over the two weeks of the Easter break.

Please note the dates below and spaces will be available for children aged 8-11 years and that are eligible for Free School Meals

  • 29th March 2021 - 1st April 2021, 10am - 2pm 
  • 5th April 2021 - 8th April, 10am - 2pm

Referrals will be open in February, but in the meantime please email fitfedandread@herts.ac.uk if you have any questions about the programme.

Schools to get help with technology and free school meals

All secondary schools have been invited by the Government to order laptops and tablets through the ‘Get help with technology service’ to support remote education. The Department of Education (DfE) will invite primary schools to order over the coming weeks, starting with the most disadvantaged areas in England and will contact each school by email as soon as they can order. Most orders will be delivered within two working days of being placed, and DfE aim to deliver all orders within five working days. They are also providing internet connections where they are needed.

Education Secretary outlines plans to support young people

The Education Secretary, Rt Hon Gavin Williamson MP, has announced that pupils are to receive a set number of hours of remote education each day. He also confirmed that Ofsted will play an important role in holding schools to account for the quality of remote education. The full package of measures set out by the Education Secretary in Parliament yesterday includes:

  • strengthened minimum standards of remote learning: schools will be expected to offer pupils online lessons and a set number of hours of remote education for pupils
  • next steps on exam alternatives arrangements: students will not be asked to sit GCSE, AS and A level exams this summer. The Education Secretary expects Ofqual to consider a teacher assessed system as a replacement for GCSEs, AS and A levels. A consultation will be launched next week and conclude swiftly to give certainty to schools, colleges and students, while also giving them the opportunity to have their say.
  • free school meals: extra funding will be provided to support schools to provide food parcels or meals to eligible students. The national voucher scheme will also re-open so that, in the event schools cannot offer food parcels or provide an alternative local solution, every child can access free school meals while they are learning at home.Increasing data allowances on mobile devices to support disadvantaged children
  • Councils, schools and academy trusts can now request help to increase mobile data allowances for children and young people who:
  • do not have fixed broadband at home
  • cannot afford additional data for their devices
  • are experiencing disruption to their face-to-face education. Revised guidance from the DFE on Children of critical workers and vulnerable children who can access schools or educational settings now includes within the definition of “Vulnerable children and young people” “those who may have difficulty engaging with remote education at home (for example due to a lack of devices or quiet space to study)”. Such children may now continue to attend school, despite the lockdown.Children with at least one parent or carer who is a critical worker can go to school or college if required. Critical workers is defined as “those whose work is critical to the coronavirus and the EU transition response, those who work in health and social care and in other key sectors outlined in the guidance”.
  • Children lacking access to remote education classed as “vulnerable”
  • Mobile data increases can also be requested when schools report a closure or have pupils self-isolating, as well as for children who cannot attend school face-to-face because they are clinically extremely vulnerable. If increasing mobile data isn’t a suitable option for some children, schools can also request 4G wireless routers.

Census 2021 - Coming soon!

The census is a vital survey that helps people and organisations work out what the needs of the communities are and how to meet them. It's also a legal requirement for everyone to complete the census.

From previous experience we know that 70% of people will complete the census without any intervention and 30% will need more support.

Some facts:-

  • The census is a survey that happens every 10 years
  • It’s a legal obligation that everyone takes part
  • It gives the most detailed information we have about our society
  • It’s used by the government and Local Authority to Shape policy, Allocate resources, Plan services, Monitor equality
  • It’s also used by charities and businesses to help with decision making

The next census will take place on Sunday 21 March 2021

  • For the first time this will be a digital-first census, but paper will be available for those who need support
  • Three new questions: Gender identity, sexual orientation and Veterans - have you been in the armed forces.
  • We’ll focus on engaging with everyone, including under-represented and hard to reach groups
  • Help will be available for people who need support to take part online
  • National advertising campaign starts February

More information can be found here

We need your help to reach the 30% who may need extra support. Please contact the Census Engagement Manager for your area to discuss what support your group needs. 

Dacorum and Three Rivers 

Naomi Woodstock -  07452 938186 | naomi.woodstock07@field.census.gov.uk 

Broxbourne, Welwyn Hatfield 

Nasia Mohammad - 07452946023 nasia.mohammad88@field.census.gov.uk

Mid Hertfordshire Watford, St Albans, and Hertsmere

Lee Meyer - 07452919529 lee.meyer56@field.census.gov.uk

North East Hertfordshire Bishop Stortford, Hertford, Ware, Stevenage, Buntingford, Sawbridgeworth, Hitchin, Letchworth, Baldock and Royston

Matt Jenkins - 07452934835 matthew.jenkins33@field.census.gov.uk 


Herts Youth Futures

The Herts Youth Futures project provides one-to-one mentoring support for individuals facing barriers to education, training and/or employment. This BBO (Building Better Opportunities) project is in partnership with Hertfordshire County Council and is funded by The National Lottery Community Fund and European Social Fund whom have invested £1.1 million to aid young people into supported and sustained work and education.

Additionally, they run a Skype hangout every Friday for young people to meet and make friends.

What's different about this project?

The unique aspects of this project are that once referred, individuals will be allocated a Youth Mentor who will tailor their support solely based on the individuals' needs. Additionally, this support is based around flexibility, being dependent on individuals' circumstances and with the vision of long-term advice and guidance. With numerous partner organisations across the county, this is an extremely far-reaching project. It utilises a diverse range of expertise and therefore aims to ensure the needs of all individuals can be met in some form.

Hertfordshire Mind Network as a leading mental health services provider can thus offer tailored and focused support, contributing to the network of specialised mentoring delivered by Herts Youth Futures.

Who can join Herts Youth Futures?

  • A young person aged 15-19
  • An under-21 care leaver, or an under 25 young person with learning disabilities
  • Registered unemployed
  • At risks of NEET or NEET
  • Economically inactive
  • Have the right to work in the U.K. (proof required)

How to contact us

Professionals will need to complete this form to make a referral and please send the form to sarah.mcveigh@hertsmindnetwork.org or please contact the central team on 01992 556183.

New funding opportunities!

Please review the Grants Page on our Families First Portal which we are regularly updating and please see the information below about some new funding opportunities.

Please also use this link to access lots of information about support for local people and organisations who may need help with technology, employment, financial assistance, health, language, online safety, shopping, funding and loneliness, etc.  

Hertfordshire Covid-19 Winter Grants Scheme

Grants of up to £5,000 are available to address food and fuel poverty.

This funding has been made available by Hertfordshire County Council as a part of the Government’s £170m National Covid-19 Winter Grants Scheme to support vulnerable people over the winter.

Applications from charities, groups and non-profit organisations supporting vulnerable adults that fall into any of the following categories are eligible to apply for funding:

  • Individuals in crisis (such as people facing poverty, experiencing or at risk of homelessness, poor mental health, domestic violence, drug and alcohol addiction etc) and their families, with or without children
  • Those facing food poverty
  • Those facing fuel poverty
  • Minority and marginalised groups who have been particularly impacted by Covid-19

Local Connections Fund

This is a new £4 million fund to help charities and community groups in England that are working to reduce loneliness by helping them build connections across their communities. This will be used to fund hundreds of ‘microgrants’ between £300 and £2,500, so small, local organisations (with an annual income of £50,000 or less) can bring people and communities together. Example projects include book clubs, walking groups and any other community interests that bring people together.

The Local Connections Fund will be split into two equal rounds of funding. DCMS will provide the first £2 million round of funding - which will be distributed by The National Lottery Community Fund. This first round will be open for applications on 5 January 2021 and close on 26 January 2021.

Successful applicants for this round of funding must have spent the money and finished their project by 31 March 2021.

Hertfordshire Community Foundation

This organisation provides a range of grants to support the county's community and voluntary groups. Please review their website for further information.

Please contact us at FamiliesFirst.Support@hertfordshire.gov.uk if you hear of any grants that you feel could be of benefit to the Families First Partnership.

Hertfordshire Family Centres are still open

Did you know that our family centre service is still open during this time, for any families you may work with?

Following the government announcement on new national restrictions from Wednesday 6 January, we can confirm that all our family centres are open and will continue to run bookable appointments only in our centres across the county. Eventbrite is the booking platform for such things as collecting vitamins, accessing our self-weigh stations as well as several other groups and courses. You can find the link to all Eventbrite sessions on the family centre service website www.hertsfamilycentres.org

By providing services by appointment only they are able to reduce your contact with people you do not live with, minimising your risk to exposure of Covid-19 and the length of time you need to spend outside your home. If you are clinically extremely vulnerable/clinically vulnerable, please adhere to the government guidance and remain at home.

In addition to bookable appointments there are a range of recorded sessions for children and virtual information and guidance for parents via Zoom, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, WhatsApp and Microsoft Teams.

Where it would benefit families to receive 1:1 support, this can be provided within a centre, out in the local community, or by phone, email, or video conferencing depending on what’s most helpful to the family.

The Public Health Nursing Service will continue to run their appointment only clinics and health and development reviews during this period. If you would like to speak to a member of the Health Visiting team you can call 0300 123 7572 Monday-Friday 9am-5pm (except bank holidays).

If you are visiting one of our centres, we still require you to wear a mask, to remain two metres apart and to keep washing your hands regularly.

If you have anything that you would like to discuss, please ring our main phone line on 0300 123 7572, our friendly team are ready and waiting to take your call. You can also visit our website www.hertsfamilycentres.org for further information.

Mental Health and Wellbeing continues to be a hot topic!

Every Mind Matters campaign

On 18 January, Public Health England launched their Better Health – Every Mind Matters campaign to support the nation’s mental wellbeing with the message that “When things aren’t so good out there, make inside feel better”.

Aimed at adults the campaign will encourage people to create a free NHS-approved ’Mind Plan’.

Take the short quiz to create your ‘Mind Plan’ at https://www.nhs.uk/oneyou/every-mind-matters/your-mind-plan-quiz/

MIND - Hertfordshire Network

Please see the new services timetable for 2021 showing MiND's continued support services that they are offering either by telephone, Skype and online provision.  Although the Wellbeing Centres are closed until further notice but they are still offering a huge range of support and all the teams are working remotely.

They continue to offer the following :-

  • One to One Peer Support Services – 8 Weekly Sessions
  • Counselling
  • Peer Mentoring
  • Carers Support
  • HAFLS Training Courses
  • Young People’s Service/Helpline-  01923 256391
  • Dementia Support
  • Crisis Service – Evenings & Weekends – 01923 256391

In addition our wellbeing through learning courses are all continuing via webinar for the next term. The courses that are running Jan-March are all now on our website for online enrolment. https://www.hertsmindnetwork.org/spring2021timetable

Please share with you wider network. People do not have to be clients of HMN to access this courses, they are open for all.

Please also visit our previous editions of Families First News to view a list of very useful links and resources for mental health support and wellbeing links

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