Following government guidance preventing non-essential travel and promoting social distancing, A Better Start Southend has found new and innovative ways for our portfolio of over fifteen services to deliver, including Zoom (tele-conferencing service), social media and Youtube.

Volunteer Home Visiting programme: Home-start Essex

Every family deserves support in overcoming challenges, and our Volunteer Home Visiting programme aims to help families through emotional and practical means. After coming aboard in January 2020 to deliver the service, Home-start Essex have been moving through the mobilisation stage smoothly, and have recently begun to take referrals for families who may need extra support during the COVID-19 pandemic. By delivering through digital means – over the telephone or via video-call – volunteers are able to maintain close contact with families who are facing extra challenges during these unprecedented times.

The A Better Start Southend Crèche team have joined Home-start as Home-Visitors for the duration of the pandemic, in order to support the demand for this service.

For more information, please contact 01245 847410 or email info@home-startessex.org.uk

Preparation for Parenthood: HENRY

For pregnant mothers struggling with their physical and emotional wellbeing, the Preparation for Parenthood team (employed by HENRY) are on hand to support them with recharging their batteries, and accessing resources within the local community. Although the service is not a 24 hour helpline, parents within A Better Start Southend wards are free to call Carole or Faye for advice and guidance, where they will assist and signpost parents to appropriate resources. For more information, or to talk to Carole or Faye, please call 07858 294972 (Carole) or 07851251515 (Faye)

In addition to the team’s efforts in staying connected to the Southend community, HENRY are launching an online resource called the ‘HENRY Hub’, which will serve as an interactive, virtual resource for Southend parents to give their parenting skills a positive boost. The hub – which is currently under construction – will be an exciting online centre for games, quizzes, badges and achievements to be earned!

Family Support Workers for Social Communication Needs: Early Years Alliance and Southend Borough Council

During lockdown, Our Family Support Workers are dedicated to providing advice, support and comfort to families who have a child currently on the Multidisciplinary Assessment waiting list, and who have concerns in communication, interaction or imaginative play, and during the pandemic, this is no different. The team have now taken to operating solely via virtual means – either by telephone or conference call – in order to support families safely and in line with government guidance. To access the service, please call Karen on 07840 638038 or Helen on 07918 223834.

Bump to Breast – Breastfeeding Support Groups: Southend YMCA

The pandemic has shown that breastfeeding support to new mothers is very much needed, and something that is very important to continue within the community. Our Breastfeeding Support service – hosted by the Southend YMCA – hold four Facebook Live sessions per week, which have been enormously popular. One Facebook Live about the benefits of breastmilk saw over 600 families engaged! Alongside Facebook Live videos, the team are providing support via Facebook messenger and over the phone for families who have specific questions. For more information and to access the service, please contact Eleanor on EleanorKing@southendymca.org.uk or 07384258800 or visit their Facebook page.

Starting Solids: Family Action

Under normal circumstances, the Starting Solids workshops are two hours long, and see families from within our wards gather together to learn all about when and how to feed their babies solid food. However, with government guidance preventing non-essential contact and travel, the service – hosted by our partners Family Action – is now working in a more innovative way. The team have opened up a support line, where parents can call and receive advice and guidance about introducing babies to solid foods, the type of foods to give, and providing a healthy and nutritious diet. Alongside this, Family Action are sending postal resources to families within our wards, including seeds and plants to enable families to grow their own healthy fruits and veg! To access the service, call 01702 220810.

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