We are Jasmine, Jo, Jez and Patrick and we are Community Connectors at Surrey County Council. We are passionate about helping families find the right support. Our online newsletter is our place to share new or existing services we come across. We'll also provide helpful information, based on what families and practitioners are telling us in the community.
As we enter April, we are anticipating the easing of lockdown and signs that our lives will start to return to some form of normality. We continue to highlight services and resources that can assist you through this challenging time, and there are more to be found through our Family Information Service (FIS), the FIS Directory and Local Offer websites:
- Education and advice on returning to school
- Food, clothing and furniture banks and financial advice
- Community help and support
- Support for children and young people
- Support for victims of anti-social behaviour and crime
- Spotlight on: Coram's Child Law Advice Line
- Spotlight on: The Learners Single Point of Access (L-SPA)
We hope this information will be helpful to you.
Education and advice on returning to school
For the latest information and advice about childcare settings, schools and colleges:
- Schools and childcare information during coronavirus (Surrey County Council website)
- Coronavirus (COVID-19): education and childcare (UK government website)
Advice for parents and children on returning to school
With the return to school underway, we know that getting back in the classroom after such a long period locked down at home brings a whole new set of challenges and anxieties.
This guidance from experts in mental wellbeing is written to help everyone settle back in:
Food, clothing and furniture banks and financial advice
If you are struggling financially during this difficult period, you may like to contact one of the services in the shortlists below:
- North East Surrey (Spelthorne, Epsom and Ewell and Elmbridge)
- North West Surrey (Surrey Heath, Woking and Runnymede)
- South West Surrey (Guildford, Waverley)
- South East Surrey (Mole Valley, Reigate and Banstead and Tandridge)
The services on this shortlist can also assist families in need of clothing and furniture.
Community help and support
Helplines and online support for parents
If you have found that your mental health has suffered under the challenging circumstances of the past year, there are a number of services that can offer advice or emotional support, including both national and local helplines and online support services for parents.
If you are finding that your relationships have been put under strain, perhaps more so with the effects of the coronavirus restrictions and the economic downturn, the following shortlist provides details of support and counselling services that may be of help.
If you or your partner are in the difficult situation of separation or divorce, these are services providing support after separation who can give valuable information, advice, guidance and support.
Domestic abuse support
If you are experiencing domestic abuse or are concerned that someone may be, please contact one of the services on the domestic abuse information for families page.
Remember if you need immediate help and support phone the 24-hour National Domestic abuse helpline on freephone 0808 2000 247. In an emergency, please call 999. If you cannot speak without endangering yourself, or cannot make a noise to communicate, the call handler will activate a Silent Solution system and may ask you to press 55 to confirm consent to transfer your call directly to the police.
Support for children and young people
Health and emotional wellbeing advice for children and young people
Health Visiting teams continue to support babies, children and families during the current lockdown, with face-to-face, phone and video call appointments.
This includes support for infant feeding and breastfeeding advice, with baby massage groups also taking place online. To make an appointment, please speak to your health visitor or call the Surrey-wide 0-19 Advice Line on 01883 340 922, which also provides assistance on all aspects of child health, development and parenting. Useful advice, tips and resources are also available on the Children and Family Health Surrey website.
There are a number of services young people can use to receive confidential expert advice to help support their mental health and emotional wellbeing.
We've listed some local and national services that are available and may offer online or telephone support to children and young people.
Whilst the return to school brings the opportunities for children to see their friends again, it can also raise up relationship problems. If your child has been facing bullying or harassment, in school, online or elsewhere, these sites and helplines about bullying are here to provide guidance and support.
Bereavement and young people
Sadly, many young people will have experienced the death of a loved one over the past months. Our Helping children cope with bereavement web page has the details of services that may be of use.
Emotional wellbeing support
Thriving Plus was created by mental health professionals based at the Tavistock and Portman NHS Foundation Trust, in collaboration with the National i-THRIVE Programme Team. Resources include a kids' guide to handling change and easy and fun strategies to help to calm kids down and develop strong emotional regulation skills.
The Lockdown and Transition Back to School during Covid-19 Resource Pack for parents from Children and Family heath Surrey provides resources and information to help parents support children emotionally during their transition back to school after lockdown.
Support for victims of anti-social behaviour and crime
Support for anti-social behaviour
It is a sad fact that not only have the national lockdowns seen an increase in referrals to domestic abuse services, but also a rise in reports of disputes between neighbours and anti-social behaviour. If you have been experiencing difficulties in your community, here is a collection of suggested services that can help.
Support for victims of crime
The lockdowns and tier restrictions have thankfully reduced total crime rates across the UK. However if you or a loved one have been a victim of a crime, we know how isolating and upsetting it can make you feel, even more so in a time of social distancing from family and friends to support you. This shortlist of services offering support to victims of crime provides links to services who can offer information, guidance and help.
Spotlight on: Coram's Child Law Advice Line
Coram is the oldest charity in England. It has grown to become a national umbrella organisation of charities offering support around a broad range of issues, including children's rights, welfare and education.
One of the key aspects of Coram's work is helping parents who are separating from each other, which can be a very stressful time for the whole family, particularly if there is disagreement about how to care for the children. Coram provides valuable support through its Child Law Advice Service on custody and contact arrangements, amongst the many other issues that can arise. Their helpline advisers give free advice (with an affordable charge if you need to book a conversation for more extensive legal advice).
For more information on Coram's wide-ranging and important work in supporting children and young people, please visit www.coram.org.uk
Spotlight on: The Learners' Single Point of Access (L-SPA)
We recently met with members of the Surrey County Council's L-SPA team. L-SPA is Surrey County Council's service to help children and young adults (under 26) with Special Educational Needs or Disability (SEND) and the parents and professionals who support them.
It is made up of professionals with education and health care roles who can assist with queries and concerns about learning and development. Whilst schools, colleges and early years settings are able to meet the needs of most young people with SEND when more complex problems arise it can be helpful to get expert advice.
If more specialist support is needed, the L-SPA can take Requests for Support and where the needs are most complex, and an Education Health Care Plan (EHCP) is being considered, they can arrange for a Needs Assessment.
Please be aware that the L-SPA cannot deal with queries from parents where their child already has an EHC Plan and so has a named SEND case officer. If you have a SEND related enquiry or concern, you can call L-SPA on 0300 200 1015.
The following video tells you more about L-SPA:
Further information and support
There are many more ways to find local and national support over this period. These can be found on our Family Information Service Directory.