July 2020 Edition

Families First News

Local area news

St Albans and Dacorum District Bulletin

St Albans and Dacorum - News Bulletin

Updated July 2020

We are collating the updates we receive for the services into district bulletins. If you would like to include your service update/news for this area please email familiesfirst.support@hertfordshire.gov.uk and please put "Newsletter update" in the subject box, thank you.

For countywide updates, please also visit our Partner Updates page.

Summer Holiday Activities in Dacorum

Although many face to face events have been cancelled we have pulled together some useful links to activities that are available in Dacorum:-

Families First 11-16 year bulletin

DSPL8 - Summer Holiday Activities

Hertfordshire Family Centre - Family Support, St Albans

  • St Albans Family Support Team are currently offering telephone and email support. We are continuing to accept referral for most of our packages of support that are able to be delivered over the phone if the family are in agreement. If the family would prefer to wait until staff can deliver the support on a face to face basis we can offer wellbeing calls, weekly or more frequently if they would prefer. We are also able to offer an Emergency Response package which means that rather than delivering a specific support package we can pick out elements of different packages to meet the families immediate needs. The Early Start team are continuing to provide telephone support with breastfeeding, introducing solid food and they are facilitating baby sing and play sessions through Zoom. These are bookable through Eventbrite but there are some targeted spaces for our more vulnerable parents. We are able to signpost families for support with shopping, collecting medication, accessing foodbanks, wellbeing etc.
  • The Family Support Team are currently organising a Family Toolkit Course to be facilitated via Zoom.
  • We have resources we can email out to families and talk through with them over the phone, to support with routines, boundaries and behaviour, emotional wellbeing or activities they can use to keep their children busy while they are not in school.
  • We continue to work closely with our PHN colleagues and are having weekly Family Matters meetings to ensure regular communication between our services

  • Dacorum Family Support Team are continuing to accept referrals for both targeted one to one work and for parenting programmes.  We are currently offering telephone and email support and are also looking into delivering our packages of work virtually using Microsoft Teams.
  • We are now accepting referrals for a virtual Family Toolkit, the first four week course starts on Wednesday 3rd June. This course is aimed at parents with 2-5 year olds. It gives ideas and strategies to manage behaviours including Praise, Choices and Consequences and Communication.
  • The Early Start team are continuing to provide telephone support with breastfeeding, introducing solid food and are facilitating Baby Sing and Play, Rhyme Time and Story sessions through Zoom. Families can also access Facebook Live and Instagram Live sessions. They will also be offering some targeted sessions on Zoom like Baby Massage, Early Talk and Little Learners. Families can be referred onto these with an emerging needs referral.
  • Both Family Support and Early start have been busy contacting all families that are registered with the Family Support Service to identify whether they need any support during this time and we have been signposting to relevant services.
  • We have resources we can email out to families and talk through with them over the phone, to support with routines, boundaries and behaviour, emotional wellbeing or activities they can use to keep their children busy while they are not in nursery or school.

Our Facebook page is full of advice, ideas and sessions so keep an eye out.

Hertfordshire Community NHS Trust : Public Health Nursing, Dacorum & St Albans Quadrant

Public Health Nursing is currently working to new guidelines from NHS England and so we are prioritising new births and Safeguarding work only. We offer clients virtual consultations by phone or by the Attend Anywhere platform initially to explain about our service offer during Covid 19 and book a triage call with the mother at 10 -14 days post birth. This lasts for approx. 40 mins and then we arrange a brief 15 minute home visit to assess the mother and baby only.

For Safeguarding families we continue with monthly virtual consultations and only offer short home visits if there is a health issue that needs monitoring.

Our staff wear PPE on all home visits.

We are not running any baby clinics or group sessions at the moment. All the 1 and 2 year reviews have been cancelled. The Preparing for Baby course has been recorded virtually and parents can access this via the Eventbrite link given out by Midwifery. They then get access to the usual 3 sessions we offered on the face to face courses, and can watch the sessions on line at their convenience.

We have increased our PHN staff who are manning our duty line so we can respond to parents calls quickly. Please note our Professionals line number and the 0300 FCS number is only open from 9-5pm Monday to Friday, currently at the moment.

We continue to make referrals to our Family centre partners and other professionals as required to support our families

YC Hertfordshire support for young people in Broxbourne, East Herts & Welwyn Hatfield : Summer 2020 delivery


The YC Hertfordshire projects and services taking place over the school summer holiday period where young people will have the opportunity to access support and take part in projects with their peers.

Our teams of youth workers and personal advisers will continue to support young people using online platforms and phone support, providing advice and guidance on a range of topics, including emotional wellbeing and managing anxiety, bullying, sexual health, managing finances and budgeting, independent living, exploring career options, applying for college and apprenticeships, and helping GCSE and A‘ Level students navigate through these uncertain times.

Positive Alternatives+

Positive Alternatives is a project for young people aged 11-17 incorporating practical sport or art sessions with interactive workshops which explore personal safety, understanding exploitation, gang culture and crime. Each session includes 2 hours of sports / arts activities delivered by specialist staff. On completion of the programme young people will receive a certificate of participation and a £30 Amazon voucher.

All programmes include ten dynamic and interactive workshop sessions delivered by qualified and experienced youth workers which focus on:

  • identity and belonging
  • gang culture
  • stereotypes and gender
  • violence
  • responsibilities
  • county lines
  • knife crime and reducing use of weapons

We will be delivering two Positive Alternative projects this summer in each of the three borough/districts, and all sessions will be fully risk assessed to ensure they follow the latest guidance in relation to COViD-19:

How to refer a young person to Positive Alternatives+

If you are a parent/carer or a professional who works with young people, you can refer a young person to this programme, particularly if they are:

  • not in employment, education or training
  • persistently absent and/or excluded from school or an Educational Support Centre
  • Vulnerable to exploitation
  • experiencing poor mental health

On receipt of your referral we will be in touch with the young person and their parent/carer to arrange an initial meeting and support them onto the programme.



We are also developing promotional material including a text message service for young people, parent/carers and schools to use during COVID-19 where they can access advice and guidance from a qualified personal advisor.

The team are also delivering a fantastic virtual pathways programme for young people who have been identified as at risk of not being in education, employment or training or those are currently NEET.

We have received some fantastic feedback from young people, professionals and parents carers during this time and will continue to work hard to provide support to young people during this challenging time.

Download the St Albans and Dacorum leaflet here

Citizens Advice

To comply with measures to prevent transmission of Covid 19 Citizens Advice St Albans District has suspended face-to-face advice services in the St Albans Civic Centre, as well as outreach services in Harpenden, Redbourn, London Colney and Wheathampstead, until further notice.

Since 23 March, we have helped over 2,400 clients – 36% more than the same time period last year - with advice on a range of issues. Employment continues to be the top issue for clients, with advice needed on furlough and redundancy etc. We are also continuing to help with practical support such as Food Bank referrals and local community links and are working with East Herts Police and other local Citizens Advice to raise awareness of Covid-related scams.

Whilst some restrictions have lifted we have decided to continue to give advice from home for the time being– many of our volunteers are vulnerable/have caring responsibilities and most of our offices do not easily allow for social distancing. We are exploring how we can add in some element of a physical advice service, with the necessary protections in place. In the meantime, we would be most grateful if you could remind your contacts of our access options, as set out in the attached flyer. (We have recently introduced Webchat and Facebook Messenger.)

We recently ran an online access survey to help us understand whether people's access needs have changed in light of Covid-19 so we can plan for future service delivery.  This shows that many clients would like to be able to access us in the evenings and at weekends and we are looking at how we might be able to offer a more flexible service going forward. In the meantime, we are working closely with partners to look at how we can best meet client needs post Covid. As government support starts to reduce we are expecting an increased need for help with debt, money advice, employment and housing and trying to raise funds to resource more specialist support in these areas. The latest unemployment statistics for East Herts highlight just how important support services will be.


There are a number of ways people can continue to get advice during this time.

  1. Call 01727 811118, advisers are waiting to provide advice, from 10am to 4pm, Monday to Thursday and 10-1 Friday.
  2. Visit www.castad.org.uk for local webchat and email advice
  3. Call Hertfordshire Adviceline service, on 03444 111 444, or 03000 3300 650 from a mobile.
  4. Visit the Citizens Advice website at www.citizensadvice.org.uk/ for advice and to chat online to an adviser
  5. Get help with a new claim for Universal Credit by calling the Universal Credit Help to Claim line on 0800 1448444.
  6. Contact the Citizens Advice consumer helpline on 0808 223 1133, or chat online to an advisor on our website, for advice on consumer issues (e.g. issues related to products or services you've purchased).


We will endeavour to minimise the impact on our clients by implementing the following service continuity arrangements.

  1. Referrals and Advice: The Gateway remains open for referrals to our service
  2. Admissions: All potential admissions to refuge will continue as long as we have space, it meets referral criteria, and the potential client is not displaying symptoms, has not returned from an affected area, and as long as the accommodation remains virus free. Referrals go through the Gateway as usual.
  3. Community: All our existing clients are receiving on-going support by phone. Existing clients have the contact number for their worker New referrals will receive support and advice and can be referred through the Gateway.
  4. Programmes: All Triple R programmes have been suspended until further notice. New referrals are being taken and these clients will receive telephone support and advice until the programmes resume.


    • Managers Liz Perry 07501 150068 lizperry@sahwr.org.uk
      Gateway 0330 102 5811
      Sara Jackson: 07501 492063 sarajackson@sahwr.org.uk

    Please use the normal e mail addresses to Managers. They will be available during their normal working hours.

    We appreciate that this is an evolving situation and therefore will continue to communicate any further changes to partners and colleagues as they arise.

    Caring Dads Programme

    Due to the Covid-19 crisis and current lockdown / social distancing rules, HACRO’s normal delivery of the Caring Dads programme will be temporarily suspended as from 1st May. Any enquiries or referrals received after this date will be filed for processing once ‘normal’ service is resumed. Our hope is that we may restart our courses from September 20. In the meantime HACRO is looking into the possibility of delivering a Helpline service for dads. Once it is ready it will be advertised on the HACRO website – hacro.org.uk - and the Herts Parenting Directory. Given reduced staffing it would be appreciated that you do not contact the HACRO office direct for information until such time as the website indicates that the Helpline service is up and running. I will contact you all again once I return from my furlough to resume the regular work on the main Caring Dads programme.


    DWP have nationally received an increase in claims of 1.5 million since March, with a decreasing workforce, due to the coronavirus situation, there has been a call for everyone to upskill and change job role to process claims. We have 10,000 corporate colleagues also training to process claims to deal with the huge increases we are receiving. We have also established an amazing turnaround in deploying IT to our colleagues working from home.

    We have streamlined the claiming process, to make it easier for our claimants to verify their ID and be able to apply for an advance payment on their claim.

    All of our processes have been updated to accommodate the situation using a “Trust and Protect” system of verifying evidence over the phone.

    Claimant Commitments have been switched off for the time-being as we are not expecting our claimants to be looking for work due to the isolation and social distancing guidelines. This situation will be reviewed accordingly and we hope to be in a better place soon to start looking at further support for our claimants and using the digital services of our providers and partners.

    We have increased UC awards by £20 per month for a year to help our claimants financially, this is an increase in addition to the annual increase.

    In these challenging times we have been able to achieve 93% of payments on time and in full.


    DSPL 8 would like to thank all staff in our school settings for their continued care and support for children and families of Dacorum in the midst of COVID-19. The impact of juggling work commitments and having children at home makes this a particularly challenging time. Staff are invited to attend a series of six virtual sessions to support you to help your own children build resilience to deal with uncertainty whilst staying alert and adapting to new routines during this unprecedented period.

    For more information and to book your place, please click on the following link - https://bounceforward.com/raise-resilience-dacorum-professional-parents/ alternatively you can click on the link on the PDF flyer via ‘Register Here’. These sessions are after half term, book now to secure your place.

    Dacorum Borough Council - useful links for activities

    Arts and culture

    Herts Year of Culture – countywide activity:https://www.creativehertfordshire.com/whats-online/

    Herts Year of Culture  - Dacorum activity:http://www.dacorum.gov.uk/home/community-living/community-partnerships/hertfordshire-year-of-culture

    Electric Umbrella – inclusive music charity offering a programme of online music activities ‘EUTV’ https://www.electricumbrella.co.uk/

    Herts Inclusive Theatre –live and interactive activities online including drama, yoga and games/arts & crafts https://hit-theatre.org.uk/whats-on/events

    Sport and Physical Activity

    Herts Disability Foundation Online Activity Sessions: https://www.hertsdisabilitysportsfoundation.com/online-sessions-1

    Herts Sports Partnership – Work out from Home Platform: https://sportinherts.org.uk/workoutfromhome/#content

    Active Dacorum

    Active Dacorum Facebook:


    Active Dacorum Twitter:




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