Covid19 Edition 3

Families First News

Local area news

St Albans and Dacorum District Bulletin

St Albans and Dacorum - News Bulletin

Updated May 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 and please put "Newsletter update" in the subject box, thank you.

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

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

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 - St Albans and Dacorum Team

The Youth Work Team have responded brilliantly to the challenges of Covid-19 and the challenges it has presented. With such an abrupt end to our face to face contact in our centres for young people and youth projects the team set about contacting all young people to offer regular 1;1 catch up meetings to maintain contact.. We have therefore, been able to maintain meaningful contact with the most vulnerable and the most challenging young people across our double district.

Across the double district team we have continued to use Twitter, WhatsApp, as well as the more traditional telephone and text.

The team have just launched a new Instagram account: yc.dacorumstalbans and this is growing daily, not just among young people but through other support groups such as Hectors House (a signposting charity, with the aim to stop suicide and the stigma around mental health).

We expect to see more referrals for young people showing signs of anxiety as this lockdown continues and we will support accordingly.

We are also now tasked with the return home interview for young people who are classed as missing, which allows colleagues from SASH (formerly Targeted Youth Support) and Intensive Families Support Team (IFST) to concentrate other work tasks

We have also maintained contact with partners i.e. Police to look at how we can help ensure the themes of social distancing are continually conveyed to young people.

We have received great feedback for the work we have done currently from young people, parents, partners, and elected members and we will continue to provide the best service to all young people who need us in these difficult times.

The IAG WRL team are working closely with schools to offer support to students throughout COVID-19 via phone and video calling. The team have worked hard to put a provision in place for schools  in St Albans and Dacorum and are making follow up calls to all year 11’s in the double district area including those who have EHCPs and who are receiving additional wellbeing phone calls. 

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.

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.


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 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 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
      Gateway 0330 102 5811
      Sara Jackson: 07501 492063

    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 – - 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 - 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.


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