Latest news and updates

An introduction to the Chair of Hertfordshire Parent/Carer Involvement

HAND SEND news spoke to Helen Errington, Chair of the Hertfordshire Parent/Carer Involvement (HPCI) forum to find out more about HPCI and what her role entails.

"I keep thinking that I have only recently become Chair but it has already been nine months. My role since starting as Chair has been to look at how the Forum is functioning internally. We have just done a review of HPCI governance and some changes are starting to filter through. We now have two new part time members of staff and in the Autumn will be recruiting for more Directors to join the Board. We will also be trying to find more members for the forum and more Parent Reps.

I joined HPCI as a member many years ago – it made sense to me to be part of the Parent/Carer Forum in the place I have lived for the last 22 years, to find out about what is going on in Hertfordshire in the world of special needs. Parent Carer Forums nationally are recognised in the SEND Code of Conduct and are a group of parents and carers of children and young people with special educational needs or disabilities (SEND) who work together with Education, Health & Social Care service providers. We work together to make sure that the services they plan and deliver meet the needs of our local children and young people with SEND and their families.

After a while I became a Parent Rep which allowed me to be trained to be able to represent HPCI at meetings and be involved in projects.. I mainly attend Hertfordshire County Council’s Preparing for Adulthood groups but in my role as Chair, I attend a variety of meetings. This can take up to six hours a week depending on the number of meetings that are scheduled. All Parent Reps can take on as much or as little as they can manage depending on their circumstances and I have been able to do more as my children have got older. HPCI is looking to recruit more parents to be trained as representatives, so if anyone wants to join us as a rep then keep a look out on the HPCI website for details. We’d be pleased to meet you.

I joined the HPCI Board of Directors in 2017 – there are currently six Directors including myself. We are all volunteers in the role of Director. (Parent Reps are paid for the time they spend preparing and attending meetings) We meet 6 - 7 times a year to decide the strategy for HPCI and we are also looking to increase the number of Directors on the Board – there will be more information about this and an advert on the HPCI website next month in September. In my role as Chair I also manage the staff of HPCI.

So what do I do in the time left over? I have two sons – one is away at university and the other is about to start a Foundation Degree at Chickenshed Theatre but will live at home and travel in each day. In the past I have been a Housing Officer, a Lecturer, worked at an inner London College, and been an independent supporter for KIDS. Currently I have my own small business specialising in orienteering & teaching navigation & work on expeditions. I work for Chancellor’s School in Brookmans Park, supporting their Duke of Edinburgh’s Award programme as well as for British Orienteering supporting volunteers to stage an international four day Orienteering festival held over the Easter weekend each year.

My hobbies include orienteering with the family and trying to keep my allotment free from weeds and full of vegetables and fruit! And of course I am a travel and social event worker for my young person with SEND."  Helen and her son Peter pictured above

We aim to bring you features on our partners regularly in HAND SEND news - so keep in touch here!

HAND data base has reopened

The HAND database is now open again.

We’ve made a number of changes to the system, some behind the scenes to improve data quality and to strengthen security and you’ll see new updates include an electronic HAND card to download and the ability to add more than one child to one account. Your email used on the registration is also now your username.

You should now be able to download the HAND card and save it onto your mobile device to have on you whenever you need. We will no longer be issuing physical HAND cards but of course, those who already have one, can continue to use it.

We’ve had a few unexpected issues with this update to the system and we’re aware this has caused problems for some trying to log-in and download their card. We can only apologise for this. We have been working with our IT provider to get these sorted and the issues should now be fixed.

However, please don’t hesitate to contact us if you have any problems accessing your account by emailing hand@hertfordshire.gov.uk with your HAND ID so we can sort any issues for you as soon as possible. Once again, please accept our apologies for any inconvenience.

If you don't yet have a HAND card - find out more about them on the Local Offer here.

In the July issue of HAND SEND News, we asked you what you thought about the online HAND card.

Here are the results of the online poll, where the majority of parents/carers told us they would like to move to an electronic version. Thank you for sharing your views.



Update on mental health support in schools

Many more school children in Hertfordshire and west Essex will be able to get early help with their mental health difficulties, thanks to a national ‘Trailblazer’ programme.

Two new mental health support teams will join those already in place in 32 schools and colleges in St Albans and East Hertfordshire, following another successful bid for national funding.

One of the new teams will cover special schools across Hertfordshire and west Essex, hosted by the PALMS service at Hertfordshire Community NHS Trust and the other, hosted by the mental health charity Mind, will cover schools in Harlow.

Staff for the new teams will be recruited from September and will work in schools and colleges to:

  • support children and young people who are experiencing mild to moderate mental health issues
  • help the senior mental health lead in each school or college to develop the support that they offer to the whole school community
  • give timely advice to school and college staff, liaising with external specialist services to help children and young people to get the right support and stay in education

Read more about this on the NHS website here

Half of all lifetime cases of mental health disorders begin by the age of 14 and one in eight children experience a mental health problem. That’s why getting early help from someone who can identify children’s mental health issues and put in place the right support is vitally important. This is an important part of our plans to deliver a healthier future for our children and young people.”
Dr Geraldine O’Sullivan, Hertfordshire and West Essex Sustainability and Transformation Partnership (STP) Clinical Lead for Mental Health

Applying for a Blue Badge with a non-visible (hidden) condition

New criteria for blue badge applications is coming on 30th August 2019.

As we reported last month, you can now apply for a Blue Badge if you suffer with a severe non-visible condition such as autism or mental health, for example, you might get a badge if you severely struggle to get from your vehicle to your destination.

Applicants would also need to either:

  • be a constant risk to themselves or other people in traffic or car parks.
  • severely struggle to plan or follow a journey
  • find it difficult or impossible to control their actions and lack awareness of the impact they could have on others
  • regularly have intense and overwhelming responses to situations causing temporary loss of behavioural control
  • frequently become extremely anxious or fearful of public/open spaces

Having a certain condition doesn’t automatically entitle someone to a blue badge though.

A bit of detail about automatic entitlement…

People are automatically entitled to a badge if they scored 10 points on the Personal Independent Payment (PIP) criteria: “cannot undertake any journey because it would cause overwhelming psychological distress to the claimant”. This is under the “planning and following a journey” part of the PIP mobility assessment.

People aren't automatically entitled if they get PIP but didn't score 10 points on these criteria, or if they get other benefits like Disability Living Allowance or Attendance Allowance. They can still apply though. .

To find out what you will need when you apply or to apply (from 30th August 2019) visit www.hertfordshire.gov.uk/bluebadge

You can find more disability information on our Money Advice factsheets

Hungry Little Minds campaign

Hungry Little Minds is a new Department for Education campaign that encourages parents and carers to adopt positive activities and behaviours to boost children’s communication, language and literacy development.

The three-year campaign, which launched with social media and online adverts in July, aims to help parents understand what a massive impact they have on their child’s learning.

Reading, playing and chatting with your child are simple things you can do to help them develop, even when they are too young to say much back.

(See also My Baby's Brain)

The Hungry Little Minds campaign provides lots of simple tips and activities that you can slot into your routine and that children love such as:

  • Kids will make a game out of almost anything. When you play with them you can see their imaginations light up. Whether it’s I spy while on the bus, peek-a-boo at bath-time or even a game of teddy bears’ picnic at tea-time.
  • Kids love to talk about all sorts of things. It all goes in, even when they’re too young to say much back. So just go with what they are interested in.
  • Kids love it when you read with them. It all goes in. Every single word. From a book, a magazine, even a shopping list.

You can also search for activities in your area using a new postcode finder service online.


A new children's minister

Kemi Badenoch has been announced as children's minister, succeeding Nadim Zahawi in the Department for Education post responsible for children's social care.

You can read more about the new minister here

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