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Family Information Service website updates: COVID-19

We have created this page on the Westminster Family Information Service  to share resources and information that may be useful to families and those working with children and young people. We are committed to supporting you as a parent during this period and will maintain regular contact with you and your family in a variety of different ways – by phone, video call and in your home where necessary.

We will add any relevant updates from specific services as they become available. If your service would like to update this website with additional information or resources, please contact FIS@westminster.gov.uk.

For the latest advice and information, to access support or understand how you can help, please visit Westminster City Council’s coronavirus advice and information pages. . For support for families with children and young people who have special educational needs and disabilities, please visit the Local Offer COVID-19 webpage.



National guidance

National guidance

To limit the spread of coronavirus, government advice is that if children can stay safely at home, they should do so. The government has asked parents to keep their children at home, wherever possible, and asked schools to remain open only for those children who are vulnerable, and children whose parents are critical to the COVID-19 response. If your child is unwell for a non-related coronavirus issue, remember that NHS 111, GPs and hospitals are still providing the same safe care that they have always done.

For the latest advice on Coronavirus and how parents and carers can support their children during this period, please visit:

The Department of Education coronavirus helpline is available to answer questions about COVID-19 relating to education and children’s social care. Staff, parents and young people can contact this helpline on 0800 046 8687.

Opening hours: 8am to 6pm (Monday to Friday), 10am to 4pm (Saturday to Sunday)

The helpline is currently experiencing high volumes of calls. We appreciate your patience at this time and apologise for any wait that you may experience.

Support for families (Early Help)

One-to-one family support (Early Help)

Our Early Help services are continuing to provide support for families during this period, in a different way. If you are already receiving one-to-one support from our Early Help team, your practitioner will contact you weekly or fortnightly via telephone or video call. There will be no face-to-face support or home visits during this period.

If you would like one-to-one family support (including referrals for extra support) you can call our contact our Early Help team on:

Phone: 0796619 4597 (manager) or 020 7641 5923 (office).

Please visit the Family Lives website for advice on how to cope practically and emotionally as a family during this period.

Please view Homestart's flyer with details of support for families.


For support for families in different languages, please visit or contact:

We understand that Ramadan will be a very different experience for Muslims in Westminster. You can find messages of reassurance, signposting to resources and available support on the Council's website: westminster.gov.uk/ramadan-and-coronavirus.


Relationship support

Relationships aren’t built on the expectation that you’ll be spending all day, every day with that person. Please find advice about how to give yourself a break and develop a new ‘normal’ during these circumstances to help make your relationship a bit smoother.

You can watch the experiences of children and young people who have parents that don’t get along in this five minute video. The stories explain the impact of different types of parental conflict, from parents arguing, to a lack of warmth to fraught contact arrangements. 

Note that this video was developed before the coronavirus outbreak.

The Building Relationships for Stronger Families Programme is continuing to offer support to parents who are struggling with their relationship with their partner or ex-partner by Zoom sessions.

See It Differently have 4 short videos that demonstrate how small changes can make life easier for everyone in the family, reducing the impact of arguments on children. They also offer a secure web chat session with one of their listeners. 


Parenting support

There is a new online parenting programme  for parents in Westminster to participate in from April to July 2020. Please visit this link to book onto one of the live parenting programmes via an online platform.

For enquiries or support, please contact earlyhelpparentingteam@westminster.gov.uk. You can also email the Early Help Parenting team for couple or co-parenting support and for the Freedom Programme online (a domestic abuse programme).   

Tavistock Relationships are providing an online six-week course for separated parents or parents going through separation. To book a place, please call 020 7380 1975 or email referralsbrsf@tavistockrelationships.org.

Unicef and Connected Lives have provided some helpful tips for parenting during coronavirus.


Young carers

The Council website has information on the support and advice available for young carers.

Family Action is currently pausing the allocation of personal budgets for young carers until home visiting can be resumed safely, in line with government guidance. Regular contact and support will be maintained with families that already work with Family Action, including providing online resources such as activities for children and mental health support. For more information, please contact YCpersonalbudget@family-action.org.uk.  

Child and family safety

Safeguarding

Self-isolating can bring new unsettling challenges for you and your family. If you are worried about your safety or the safety of your child, please contact the following teams:

Please contact the access team on 020 7641 4000 or accesstochildrensservices@westminster.gov.uk. The out of hours Emergency Duty Team is also available from 5pm – 9am during weekdays and 24 hours a day at weekends (including bank holidays)  on 020 7641 2388. In an emergency, please call 999 or follow the link to this leaflet explaining how the police are supporting families in Westminster.


Child Abuse

Working alongside Kensington and Chelsea Council (RBKC), Westminster City Council has launched a campaign to encourage those who may have concerns about potential child abuse to reach out to those who can help. With children now seeing fewer adults due to the Government’s stay at home and social distancing guidelines, if something you see or hear doesn’t sit right with you, please act on your concern by reporting it to Children’s Services


Domestic abuse

If you are affected by domestic abuse, support is still available to you through a number of different ways during this period:

  • The Angelou Partnership (translators available): 0808 801 0660 or 020 8741 7008
  • Women’s Aid via instant messaging service or email support
  • Save Lives advice and resources to support you during the Coronavirus outbreak (the site can be closed quickly using the big pink button and is automatically deleted from your history)
  • #silentsolution if you need to speak to the police but cannot speak out loud
  • Hestia’s Bright Sky App, free app which displays as a weather app
  • The National Domestic Abuse Helpline available 24 hrs a day: 0808 2000 247

Financial support, housing and food

Financial Support

If you have financial concerns, support is available to provide you with information or speak specifically about your situation.

Please visit the Westminster webpage for how the council and government can support you financially. You can also contact the Westminster Advice Service Partnership (WASP) on 0300 330 1191 or Local Support Payments or visit the Money Matters webpage for government support schemes.


Housing

Please visit the Housing – Coronavirus FAQs to find out how our housing services are adapting to keep everyone safe. For urgent housing issues such as emergency repairs, please call 0800 358 3783 or email housing.enquiries@westminster.gov.uk.

You can contact Shelter for advice on housing matters, welfare benefits and debt issues on 0344 515 2048 or by emailing Westminster@Shelter.org.uk. Interpreters are available where required. Shelter’s website or online chat service also provides advice on common housing issues.


Food

For support with accessing food whilst self-isolating, you can contact the Westminster helpline or email westminsterconnects@westminster.gov.uk. Council staff or volunteers will arrange for food to be delivered to you or collected on the same day. You can see which local organisations are providing food and other support on this interactive map of Westminster.

Information about getting food from North Paddington Food Bank can be found on their website. They are offering a delivery service for those that are not able to collect in person. 

Professionals can refer families to the Westminster food bank to receive e-vouchers. They are operating a Home Delivery Only Service.

Ebury Food Surplus is also offering a range of fresh and frozen food in Victoria (no voucher is needed). The food bank is open seven days a week from 10am – 6pm.

Children and young people’s mental health

During this time, it’s important that you take care of your family’s mental health – there are lots of things you can do, and support is available if you need it.  Please follow this link for a leaflet that sets out further available support for children and young people ‘Knowing your mental health’

Support can be accessed online, by phone and by text. Our Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service (CAMHS) are adapting their approaches to be able to continue to provide support remotely. You can contact their team on 020 3317 5999 or westminstercamhs.cnwl@nhs.net.

For more information and guidance on supporting your family’s mental health, see:

If you as a parent are feeling anxious or low in mood, support is available by telephone or video call. Please email alice.gibson@nhs.net and the Health Visiting service will get back to you as soon as possible.

You can also access a talking therapy service to support with your own mental health and wellbeing. Please follow this link for a leaflet outlining the support available in Kensington and Chelsea or Westminster and how to contact the talking therapy service, provided by Community Living Well and the Grenfell Health and Wellbeing Service.


Free online counselling support for children and adults

Kooth is a web-based confidential support service. It provides young people and young adults aged 11-25 years old with a safe and secure means of accessing support with their emotional health and wellbeing needs from a professional team of qualified counsellors.

Relate provides relationship support; including guidance and counselling services for individuals, couples and families through private online chat rooms and phone calls.  When individuals are going through a tough time, Relate can offer support to manage issues and strengthen relationships.

Childline is a free, private and confidential service where you can talk about anything. Whatever your worry, whenever you need help, trained Childline counsellors are there for you online and on the phone.

Please follow this link for a leaflet that sets out further available support for children and young people ‘Knowing your mental health’

Support from your Midwife

Hospitals are making changes to help respond to coronavirus and this will impact the way you receive your maternity care. Please see the Mum & Baby app for more information about local pregnancy and maternity services.  You can also find important information for pregnant women and their families on the Royal College of Obstetrics and Gynaecologists’ website and a Q&A for parents about coronavirus from the Imperial NHS Trust.

If you are pregnant, you can If you are pregnant, you can join these online antenatal classes:

Maternity Champions online antenatal classes (evening and daytime courses) 

Chelsea and Westminster hospital online antenatal classes and resources


If you are booked at Queen Charlotte’s and Chelsea Hospital or St Mary’s Hospital

Please visit the Imperial NHS Trust website for information about upcoming appointments with your midwife and maternity advice during the coronavirus pandemic. You can contact the maternity helpline on 020 3312 6135 during weekdays at 10am – 5:30pm.

If you are booked at Chelsea and Westminster Hospital

Please visit the Chelsea and Westminster Hospital website for information about upcoming appointments with your midwife and maternity advice during the coronavirus pandemic. If you have an urgent pregnancy-related issue, please call the maternity helpline on 020 3314 6000 (option 1) or the West Middlesex University Hospital on 020 8231 5946.   If you have faced unexpected birth experiences or challenges, you can access peer support from other parents in weekly 40 minute virtual sessions.  

Support from your Health Visitor

Health Visitors are currently operating a reduced service to manage staffing capacity and to limit the spread of infection.

You will be contacted by your Health Visitor by phone or video call when your baby is 10-14 days old and 6-8 weeks to help you, your family and your new baby stay healthy. If you haven’t heard from your Health Visitor yet, please follow this link to find contact details for your local team.  For families with additional needs, you will receive support from your Health Visitor by phone/video call or by a visit to the home if appropriate. 

Telephone support is still on offer and contact details for your local team can be found here. The Health Visiting service is offering a 7 day a week duty line for parents to call for support and advice. You can contact the duty line using the below number or email address:

Phone: 020 8200 2500, press option 2

Email: Clcht.childhealthinformationhubkcwf@nhs.net

Opening hours: Monday – Sunday 9am – 5pm (including bank holidays)


Support with feeding

Support with breastfeeding is still available by video call with an infant feeding health visitor. Email Cathy.Cannon@nhs.net and she will get back to as soon as possible.

You can find information and guidance on infant feeding during COVID-19 on the Unicef website.


Vitamins

You can still collect vitamins from your local distribution reception point. We are also offering to deliver your vitamins: please call 020 7641 5923 to arrange a delivery. 


Immunisations

In line with NHS England guidance, you should still attend routine childhood immunisation appointments during this period. If your child is due their vaccine, please book the required appointments but do not attend if your family is in self-isolation at the time of the appointment or has symptoms. You can call your local GP practice or health clinic to confirm that your child’s immunisation appointment is still going ahead or for reassurance.

You can find out when your child needs to have their vaccines and how to book an appointment on the NHS website.


Mental health and well being

If you as a parent are feeling anxious or low in mood, support is available by telephone or video call. Please email alice.gibson@nhs.net and the Health Visiting service will get back to you as soon as possible.

Visiting Family Hubs

All stay and plays are closed in line with government guidance. The Family Hubs are still available to contact by telephone and are getting directly in contact with any regular families to offer advice and support in the coming months. 

You can find resources for supporting children under 5 at home here. Community Champions are offering weekly virtual play, yoga and music sessions for families with young children: you can sign up using this calendar of events via Zoom or by emailing the listed contact.

Bessborough Family Hub is open for essential appointments, but wherever possible advice and support will be available on the phone rather than face-to-face. Please call 020 7641 5923 to speak to one of our staff or for one-to-one support.

Offer from Paddington Development Trust It’s business as usual as clients can still register online, to join the new online training. Usual eligibility requirements of right to work and proof of address are required. Existing clients take the survey so the trust can get an idea of session numbers. New recruits see the E-Training flyer. Once clients are registered you will be provided with all the usual opportunities plus additional expenses such as data top up to help them get by etc. Call Neisha Diaz on 020 7266 8253 or 07856181941 details. PDT Employment have created some YouTube Playlists of things to keep you entertained, job ready and productive during this time in self-isolation.

Childcare arrangements

In light of the Government’s guidance, we have put together a comprehensive list of available childcare provision for your child, provided that you are a key worker or your child qualifies for a placement. Please access this link through the link below:

Eligibility for 30 hours and Tax Free Childcare protected (5 May 2020)

The government has announced that any working parent usually eligible for 30 hours childcare or Tax-Free Childcare will remain eligible if they fall below the minimum income requirement due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak. Subject to Parliamentary approval, parents who are critical workers will also remain eligible for these entitlements if their income has increased over the maximum threshold during the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak.  This temporary flexibility will ensure critical workers can continue to access the childcare they need to enable them to work. These arrangements will be reviewed over the summer.  This announcement can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/eligibility-for-government-childcare-offers-protected

Please feel free to contact us should you have any further questions regarding your child’s placement.

Westminster Family Information Service: 07971 625922 or 07814 804262

School arrangements for vulnerable and key worker children

Children of key workers and vulnerable children are eligible to attend school if they cannot be at home safely.  Please find here the latest information on current school provision in Westminster for children that fit this criteria (as of 18th May).

Parents should have been notified by individual schools and colleges about arrangements for their children, but if you have further queries please contact school.standards@rbkc.gov.uk


The Local Offer COVID-19 webpage also provides resources and information for families and professionals working with children and young people who have special educational needs and disabilities.


Free school meals

Each school has its own free school meal arrangements in place to provide for children during coronavirus whilst schools are closed. If you have queries about how to access free school meals provision, please contact your school directly. 

If your school is providing you with Free School Meals via the national voucher scheme, please find some FAQs and tips on how to claim and use the voucher in local supermarkets.

Resources to support your child learning at home

Under 5s

We have some under 5s home play resource packs for you to do with your children. To arrange delivery of your packs please call:

0796619 4597 (manager) or 020 7641 5923 (office)

In addition, we have some useful activity sheets for you to download which we will add to each week with interesting things you can do with your child using items found in the home.

We know you cannot come to us at our children’s centres, so we are bringing sessions into your living room. We are working on uploading a story and a sign and rhyme session weekly and will include more information here shortly.

You can find more home learning tips and activities for under 5s on:

Home learning tips for babies, toddlers and pre-schoolers

BBC Tiny Happy People Activities

Little Birdsong Concert today 20th May

Fun activities to do with your family (Kidadl)

Tales TV Channel on Tuesdays and Thursdays at 11am (Chickenshed Theatre)

Box Full of Tales activity pack for young children (Chickenshed Theatre)

Free home learning books and activities up to Key Stage 2 (TTS Group)

Indoor activities inspired by Disney characters to keep 2 – 8 year olds active (NHS Change 4 Life)

Westminster libraries online resources for children include rhyme time sessions.


School age children

Schools are organising some online learning resource packs and will contact you directly to support your child’s learning. In addition to this, please find below home learning resources for school age children.

Summary of learning at home resources for your child

Indoor activity pack for 5 - 11 year olds

BBC Bitesize daily lessons for 3 – 18 year olds

Learning at home and cultural activities for 0 – 18 year olds (Mayor of London) 

Online learning resources prepared by teachers and parents who normally home-school: these cover a range of topics from maths, geography, science, literature to fun craft activities, cookery and exercises you can enjoy with your kids at home

Oak National Academy online classroom for pupils and parents (Department of Education)

GOV.UK list of online education resources for home education

Microsoft’s Family Learning Centre for families with children aged 3 – 12

Audible has free access for to stories for children during lockdown:

https://stories.audible.com/start-listen

The museums in London: most have online resources for children

https://www.tate.org.uk/kids

The British Library 

https://www.bl.uk/childrens-books/themes/all-activities

Youth Services

All Youth Clubs are developing alternative support offers that young people can access remotely and online, as well as telephone helplines where possible. There are many creative and educational online opportunities for young people to participate in whilst at home:

  • Young Westminster Foundation: a hub of information, advice and online activities for young people and professionals. Feedback from families and members regarding their response to the pandemic has been summarised here.
  • Beacon House: creative and cultural activities to keep young people active and busy.
  • City Lionsonline social and creative sessions for young people aged 13 – 16 year olds every Thursday between 7 – 9pm and weekly challenges to keep young people busy while at home.
  • DreamArts: online Experiment Half Term Project
  • 2-3 Degrees Virtual Programme for Young People: virtual workshop for young people aged 13 – 16 year olds from Monday May 25th - Thursday 4th June. 

Bereavement support

We appreciate that this is a very difficult time and the unexpected loss of a loved one due to coronavirus can be particularly distressing. Please visit the Council’s website for information, guidance and advice on deaths, funerals and bereavement.

The Council have also created leaflets for families, children and young people who are grieving and dealing with loss due to coronavirus: 

There are a number of services available to support families, children and young people in the event of a death of a loved one:

Last Updated 22/05/2020

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