Children and Families Hub newsletter: Edition 1

Children and Families Hub

Hello and welcome to the first Children and Families Hub newsletter.

I'm Lauraine Portwood and I'm the Service Manager for Essex Children and Families Hub.

In our new monthly newsletters, we'll be sharing our latest news, the most efficient ways to raise requests for support (RFS) for children and their families, and sharing details of new support services available in Essex.

In this edition, we focus on children and families who need early help, how to identify their needs and community-based services you can refer them to.

Thank you for signing up and we look forward to working with you to help more Essex families get the support they need.

Lauraine Portwood

Children and Families Hub,

Children, Families and Education

Back to school update

September is always a very busy time for the Children and Families Hub. This year, with the coronavirus pandemic, we are already seeing a larger than usual increase in referrals.

We therefore ask that you consider community-based services for children and families before submitting a request for support form. These are suitable for children who need additional support or early help, also known as level 2 needs. There is more information in this newsletter about identifying level 2 needs.

By accessing community-based support, you can help us to ensure that families with escalated needs and those who need specialist intervention get the urgent help they need.

There are lots of community-based services that can help children and families. Many are offering their services virtually or social distanced due to COVID-19 restrictions.

Check out our 'Services in the spotlight' section in this newsletter for some examples, and visit our directory of services to find more.

Identifying level 2 needs

Children and families with level 2 needs require some additional support. Your actions should enable services to provide additional support to meet needs and prevent the need for a higher level referral.

This might include help to:

  • improve parenting
  • meet specific health or emotional needs
  • improve their material situation
  • respond to a short-term crisis such as bereavement or parental separation

The best ways to get help are by:


  • arranging a team around the family meeting
  • completing an Early Help Plan (EHP)
  • talking to a Team Around the Family Support Officer

Visit the Early Help section on the Essex Effective Support website to take these actions.

Service in the spotlight:


Community360 is working in collaboration with other voluntary and community sector organisations across Essex as part of the wider Essex Child and Family Wellbeing Service.

Community360 supports families to be:

  • emotionally healthy, happy and resilient
  • behave in ways that promote safety and wellbeing
  • socially connected with peers and communities
  • in healthy and positive family relationships

Visit the Community360 website or email to make a referral.

Did you know?

We have a directory of support services for children who have additional needs or require early help.

Visit the directory of services on our website to find a local service to access Early Help support.

Family Innovation Fund-Xtra

Family Innovation Fund (FIF) is a range of established services for children, young people and parents/carers with low level needs that cannot be supported by services such as schools and GPs alone. 

FIF-Xtra services have been set up so there is even more help available during this time, online and via telephone.

FIF-Xtra services can help children and families with:

  • understanding coronavirus
  • managing and coping with change
  • separation and loss
  • managing and coping with anxiety
  • healthy family relationships
  • staying active and curious

To access FIF or FIF-Xtra services, download the referral form.

Alternatively, parents and young people can contact each service directly using the details below.

YMCA Family Support

This team helps young people and families to identify beneficial strategies and solutions.

Email or, or call  01245 355677.


Relate offers a specialist and accredited mediation and counselling service.

Visit the Relate website, call 01245 676930 or 01708 441722, or email

Evolve Intervention

Evolve offers coaching and mentoring to enable people to support themselves.

Visit the Evolve Intervention website, call 01245 526069 or email

Renew Counselling

Renew Counselling is an experienced and accredited counselling service for all ages.

Visit the Renew website, call 01245 359353 or email

Wilderness Foundation

This service provides counselling and therapeutic support, and may bring nature, art and other practical and creative tools into sessions. 

Visit the Wilderness Foundation website, call 0300 123 3073 or email

Open Door

This service offers a wealth of experience in coaching, counselling and mediation.

Visit the Open Door website, call 01375 390 040 or email