Families Matter - December 2020

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Families Matter

Welcome to your monthly bitesize e-bulletin from the Parent and Family Support Service.

In these uncertain times we understand the pressures parents, carers and families are under and provide a wide range of services and support for all parents and carers in Tower Hamlets.

We offer early help, targeted services and family support in partnership with schools and community venues and most recently due to the Coronavirus our services are available online through webinars, virtual meetings and forums.

Here you’ll find regular updates, information, advice, and opportunities for you to join one of our virtual networks, support groups or attend a virtual parenting session to meet other parents and carers, share your experiences and learn from each other.

For more information about the service, visit our website.

If you like this e-bulletin please share on social media, through community networks or your school website using the following share button, or you can click the hyperlink in the top right corner of this email.

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Family Information Service


Everything you need for a happy digital Christmas

This has been a year like no other – and it promises to be a very different Christmas too. But that doesn’t mean it can’t still be special. 

Though some activities will be off-limits this festive season, the digital world offers countless ready-made replacements.

Parent Zone have put together a guide on the ways families can bring Christmas online and still have a wonderful break, including a list of the best family Christmas films, shows and pantomimes to stream over the festive period.

Parent Zone tips here >

Parent Zone’s what to watch list here >

Stay safe

‘Christmas Bubbles’- explained

The festive period is an important time for many people who come together over the holidays. For this reason, the government is changing some social contact restrictions for a short period of time.

Between Wed 23 and Sun 27 December:

  • you can form a ‘Christmas bubble’ with no more than three households (yours and two others)
  • you can only be in one Christmas bubble
  • you cannot change your Christmas bubble
  • you can travel between tiers and UK nations to meet your Christmas bubble
  • you can only meet your Christmas bubble in private homes and gardens, places of worship, or public outdoor spaces
  • if you form a Christmas bubble, you should not meet with friends and family that you do not live with, unless they are part of your Christmas bubble. 

More details here >

Baby and Mother

Healthy Start vouchers - worth up to £12.40/week

Healthy Start vouchers can be spent on a range of food and milk items and can be used in most supermarkets, shops and market stalls in Tower Hamlets. The scheme offers families:

  • £6.20 per week for each baby under the age of one
  • £3.10 per week for each child aged between two to four-years-old
  • £3.10 per week if you are pregnant (from week 10)

To speak to someone about the vouchers, call the Healthy Start helpline 0345 607 6823.

More details and apply here >


Visit famous attractions this holiday season

Don’t let travel restrictions prevent you visiting some of the planet’s most famous family attractions. In response to the pandemic, many attractions have enhanced their virtual experiences so that they are now even more engaging for families.

The Tower Hamlets Holiday Childcare Scheme has curated a collection of the best family attractions to explore this holiday season. 

More fun activities for the family here >


‘Platform to Talk’ virtual sessions for parents

Now more than ever parents need a safe space to express themselves, share their experiences and get reliable information. That’s why the Parental Engagement Team are launching regular ‘Platform to Talk’ sessions, led by experienced practitioners from the Schools and Families Team. These virtual sessions will cover a range of topical issues from health and wellbeing, family life, parenting, school, and more.

The first session will be on the theme of growing up and will explore how to speak to children and young people about growing up, changes and relationships.

Parents will gain an insight into the pressures children face and how to keep children safe by building resilience and confidence. 

Platform to Talk: Growing Up

Monday 18 January, 10am 

To find out more, book your place or suggest themes for future sessions email us. 


Don’t let the cold, dark nights get you down

Parenting can be a challenging role, so it’s important to prioritise your wellbeing to keep up with the demands.

Find out what you can do right now to feel happier, healthier and more energised with the Parental Engagement Team’s ‘winter wellbeing tips’. From simple ideas on enjoying nature to healthy eating and relaxation techniques; you’ll discover ways to enhance your wellbeing during the winter season.

‘Happy heathy parents make happy healthy children’.

Dr Miriam Stoppard OBE

Winter well-being tips here >

Support your Child

Support your child’s learning: free virtual workshops for parents

Following a very successful programme of virtual sessions for parents in 2020, the Parental Engagement Team has launched a new schedule of sessions for 2021. 

The sessions have proven to be an invaluable source of support for parents at a time when they may be struggling to navigate the new learning landscape. One-hundred per cent of the parents who attended said they would recommend the sessions to other parents.  

From information about new learning approaches including ‘blended learning’ to tips on supporting learning at home and staying healthy, the sessions provide a safe space for parents to share their experiences, ask questions and pick up some handy tips from experienced practitioners. 

Session details and sign up here >

Winter Challenge

Winter reading challenge launched

The Reading Agency have launched a ‘Winter Mini Challenge’ to encourage children to keep reading during the winter holidays by rewarding them for reading and reviewing books. To take part in the online Winter Mini Challenge, children simply read any books of their choice, then rate and review them on the Winter Mini Website.  

Books added to the website during the six-week Mini Challenge period will count towards unlocking special rewards including a certificate and a virtual badge. The website will also feature activities, competitions and a unique database with over 1.3 million peer-to-peer reading recommendations.

Challenge dates: 1 December 2020 to 15 January 2021.

More details here >

Online sessions

Online sessions to help build family resilience

The pandemic may have left many children feeling anxious and parents feeling overwhelmed and exhausted. To help tackle this, Thrive London are delivering a series of online sessions to help families thrive when faced with uncertainty.

The sessions will provide parents with a set of practical tools to help their families build resilience now and into the future. Sessions start in January.

 More details and sign up here >


Looking for childcare in the new year?

The Family Information Service (FIS) provides free, impartial information and advice on a wide range of services for children, young people, parents and families.

FIS also offers a free brokerage service to all parents and carers who are looking for childcare in Tower Hamlets. This could be when you are looking for long-term, short-term, emergency, or ad-hoc childcare.

FIS operates a telephone helpline 020 7364 6495 from Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm, or you can email: fis@towerhamlets.gov.uk. Please note festive opening hours for our phone line at the start of this newsletter.

You can also search for Ofsted registered childcare on the Local Offer

Family Information Service >

Group of young people

Consultation on proposed 'Birth to 19-years' service

The London Borough of Tower Hamlets is consulting on a new birth to 19-years offer (up to 25 for young people with special educational needs and disabilities [SEND]).

Their consultation focuses on how existing services in a proposed new delivery model could be aligned in the best way possible.

Consultation closes 11 January 2021.

Don't miss the online consultation event, Thursday 17 December, 7pm-8pm. Click here for details.

Have you say >

Girl smiles to camera with thumbs up

Consultation on proposed changes to SLS and SEND service

The London Borough of Tower Hamlets is consulting on proposed changes to its Support for Learning Service (SLS) and special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) Service.

The consultation will:

  • Provide you with updates on current changes to the SEND education system
  • Explain proposed reorganisations and changes in the service - giving you the opportunity to feedback before plans are finalised

Both the updates and proposals are part of a whole-system reform of SEND which is ongoing, and that aims to better meet local needs and our legal (statutory) duties.

Consultation closes 6 January 2021.

Have you say >

Save our Libraries

Help shape Tower Hamlets library service Virtual Idea Store and library focus groups

As part of the consultation on the future of the borough’s library service residents have the chance to take part in two online focus groups.

Both focus groups will be hosted by Councillor Sabina Akhtar, cabinet member for Culture, Arts and Brexit.

The focus groups will take place on:

  • Thursday 17 December at 2pm
  • Wednesday 13 January at 7pm

You can join the event through a link which you will receive automatically once you register.

Find out more and complete the survey here >

Register for the focus groups here >


Coronavirus updates and advice

The council is supporting the nation's efforts to stop the spread of coronavirus, while running our most critical services and supporting our residents, including those that are vulnerable.  

We are regularly publishing advice for residents, local businesses and more at www.towerhamlets.gov.uk/coronavirus 

We are also sharing updates with our subscribers in regular emails, and publishing stories on social media using #TowerHamletsTogether.

Sign up to our 'health and wellbeing - coronavirus' newsletter to get regular updates delivered to your inbox.

 Sign up for updates >

Did you know that Tower Hamlets offers other email newsletters to keep you up to date on a variety of topics?

  See the list and sign up!