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Family Support

The Hounslow Early Help Offer

The Hounslow Early Help Offer is a collection of services which aim to provide effective support to families as soon as difficulties start, to prevent them from getting worse. These services cover a range of areas, from parenting to health to education to support for teenagers. Your school, nursery or GP will also be able to help.

Practitioners in these services will discuss with you what is working well in your family and where you need extra support. They will help you to move forward and to access additional services where these may be able to help.

Who to contact

Telephone 020 8583 6600 option 2

Email earlyhelp@hounslow.gov.uk

Child Contact Centres

A child contact centre is somewhere that is safe and neutral where children can spend time with one or both parents that have separated, this sometimes can be with other family members.

Hounslow’s contact centre is only available through a  Hounslow social worker and if the child is a 'Looked after child'. If your child does not have a social worker then you will need to look for contact centres in nearby authorities at NACCC - Find a Centre

Family Mediation

Family mediation helps to sort out family disputes without going to court. An independent, trained mediator helps you and your partner to work out an agreement about issues such as:

  • Arrangements for children after you break up (sometimes called custody, residence or contact)
  • Child maintenance payments
  • Finances (for example, what to do with your house, savings, pension, debts)

For information on family mediation and contact details for local qualified family mediators, visit: www.familymediationcouncil.org.uk or National Family Mediation

For more information and support around relationships both locally and nationally see our Support Section

Financial support - benefits, childcare, debt and hardship

There are many organisations offering financial advice around debt, entitlements, benefits and grants.  Below you will find links to a handful of organisations that can provide further information and support on the many financial aspects of raising a family. Local support can be found here

  • Child Benefit  find out about child benefit eligibility and how to claim
  • Child maintenance options  free impartial information and support to help parents make informed choices about child maintenance.
  • Gov.uk - Benefits for families
  • Working Families Information for working parents and carers on their employment rights, Tax Credits and in-work benefits, maternity and paternity leave, flexible working options and maternity discrimination. This includes a section especially for parents of disabled children
  • Paying for childcare costs  Find out more about the help available to pay for childcare, Tax Free childcare, the childcare elements of Universal and Tax credits, 2, 3 and 4 year old 15 hour free entitlements and 30 hours free childcare for working parents.
  • Gingerbread – For single parents this site can help support you through separation or bereavement, sorting out work or childcare. Online advice and a helpline can support you with more complex queries.

Benefit, childcare and grant calculators

Facing hardship

  • Local Food Banks - provides a list of food banks running in Hounslow supporting families who are struggling and unable to afford to feed themselves
  • Baby Basics - provides much needed essentials and equipment to mothers and families who are unable to provide these items for themselves; including but not limited to teenage mums, people seeking asylum and women fleeing domestic abuse and trafficking.
  • The Extra Mile -  passes on donated items of good quality, pre-loved clothes, cots, high chairs, play mats, books, toys etc. to families who need this support
  • Help with Health costs
  • Buttle UK – Grant programme helping children and young people in need
  • Money Advice Service – Free and impartial money advice
  • Citizens Advice Hounslow  provide free, confidential, impartial advice on welfare benefits, debt, housing, employment, consumer, relationship & family issues, immigration and other topics.
  • Housing advice - your options explained and advice on issues you may be experiencing.
  • Discretionary housing payments is a discretionary fund that the Local Authority administers to  make up the shortfall in a households rental liability. To qualify an applicant must be in receipt of Housing Benefit or Universal Credit.
  • Smallwood Trust - Helping women overcome financial difficulties and improve their social and emotional wellbeing. To read more and apply for a grant go to the Smallwood Trust website or call the Trust on 0300 365 1886
  • The Better Homes, Better Health service provides Hounslow residents with a free package of support to help them keep warm and well in their homes during the winter. The service offers eligible households a free home visit with a Green Doctor who will advise them on how to reduce fuel bills, apply for grants and provide information on health and well being services running in the borough. During the visit the Green Doctor will also install a number of free energy saving measures such as draught proofing and radiator reflector panels to help keep the home warm.

Financial support - Maternity and Paternity pay and leave

Maternity pay and leave When you take time off to have a baby you might be eligible for:

  • Statutory Maternity Leave
  • Statutory Maternity Pay
  • paid time off for antenatal care
  • extra help from the government

Your employment rights are protected while on Statutory Maternity Leave.

Maternity Allowance is usually paid to you if you don’t qualify for Statutory Maternity Pay.

Sure Start Maternity Grant You could get a one-off payment of £500 to help towards the costs of having a child. You usually qualify for the grant if the following apply:

  • you’re expecting your first child, or 
  • expecting a multiple birth (such as twins) and have children already
  • you or your partner already get certain benefits

Paternity leave and pay You may get 1 or 2 weeks paid Paternity Leave, Paternity Pay or Shared Parental Leave and Pay if your partner is:

  • having a baby
  • adopting a child
  • having a baby through a surrogacy arrangement

Shared Parental Leave and Statutory Shared Parental Pay

You may be able to get Shared Parental Leave and Statutory Shared Parental Pay if you’re having a baby or adopting a child. These must be taken between the child’s birth and first birthday or within a year of an adoption. If you’re eligible for Shared Parental Leave you can use it to take up to 3 blocks of leave separated by periods of work, instead of taking it all in one go.

To start Shared Parental Leave or Statutory Shared Parental Pay the mother must:

  • end her maternity leave (for Shared Parental Leave)
  • end her Maternity Allowance or maternity pay (for Statutory Shared Parental Pay)

If she doesn’t get maternity leave, but she ends her Maternity Allowance or pay early, her partner might still get Shared Parental Leave.

If you’re adopting, then you or your partner must end any adoption leave or adoption pay early instead.

Check if you can get leave or pay when you have a child

Check to see:

  • if you can get maternity, paternity or shared parental leave
  • how much pay you can get if you take leave

You’ll need to know:

  • your employment status (for example employed or worker)
  • the date you started your current job
  • the date you finished work (if you’ve finished)
  • how much you earn

You’ll need the same information about your partner if you plan to share the care of the child with them and use the calculator once for each job you have.

Use the calculator to find out: Start now

Working Families helpline. The charity Working Families helps parents, carers and their advisors with all of their questions on their rights at work. Parents, carers and their advisors can contact the Working Families Helpline on 0300 012 0312 The Helpline can also be contacted by emailing advice@workingfamilies.org.uk.

The Helpline Team is happy to answer queries on areas including

  • maternity and paternity leave and pay; shared parental leave
  • maternity discrimination
  • parental leave
  • time off for family emergencies
  • the right to request flexible working
  • in-work benefits

There is further advice and information on their website www.workingfamilies.org.uk

Keeping your family safe

Keeping children, young people and your family safe means protecting them from abuse and other dangers in their everyday lives.

Find out more about Abuse, Bullying, and Online Safety, what it is, what you can do and where you can find support. Please read our staying safe advice before contacting a service or activity.

If you suspect ill treatment of a child or young person or you are not coping, you can:

  • Call Children’s Services on 020 8583 6600 (option 1)
  • Email: earlyhelp@hounslow.gov.uk
  • Out of hours (after 5pm weekdays or weekends) call 020 8583 2222
  • If the child is in immediate danger call the police on 999

If you are uncertain, you might find it helpful to discuss your worries with someone you know who works with children and families. This could be a teacher, school nurse, health visitor or social worker.

It is important to act fast if you suspect abuse as some signs of abuse can disappear quickly. You do not have to give your name and your conversation will be treated confidentially

Sources of advice and online support for Young People

Find out more about the Young Carers Project in Hounslow and how they can support you.

Young carers are children and young people who take on practical and/or emotional caring responsibilities This could be for your mum, dad, brother, sister, or grandparent who are suffering from a disability, elderly, very ill, have a learning disability, mental health issues or have an alcohol or drug addiction.

Kooth - Free anonymous confidential support for young people. Website provides ‘drop in’ online counselling chats, 1-to-1 counselling and themed message forums

Childline - 0800 1111 - Free 24 hour helpline for children; may have to dial several times to get through as can be busy. Also, offer email support via the website, ‘1-2-1 chat’ online with a counsellor or ‘Ask Sam’

Relate for Young People  - 0300 100 1234 - The young people's counselling service provides support for any young person experiencing problems at home or at school. See web page for 'relationship help’ for children and young people'.

Teen Issues - Website has information and guidance on teenage issues such as family life, relationships, education, exams, the environment, diet, fitness and mental health. On the website you can ‘ask an expert’, read true life stories, keep up-to-date with latest news or register for their monthly e-newsletter.

The Mix - 0808 808 4994 - Free telephone and email helpline providing emotional support for young people for under 25 year olds.

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