Living with COVID19 – Luton’s Flying Start Children’s Centre update

The last time I wrote an update for the newsletter was in April when we were in lockdown and just beginning to understand the impact of Covid19 on all our lives. It feels like a lot has changed since those early days. We have got used to new ways of doing things including holding meeting via Skype, Zoom or MS Teams and working from our kitchens/dining rooms/bedrooms.

Our staff have been remarkable, many rapidly learning new IT and social media broadcasting skills, while thinking of innovative ways in which to provide a comprehensive range of activities and support for children and their carers. We have continued to offer support to parents online, by telephone, via Facebook and video-conferencing.

·         Family Workers have been making regular phone calls to all families they were working with before lockdown to check on their welfare, offer emotional and practical support and sign-post them to other relevant agencies.

·         Support workers have been phoning regular users of the children’s centres on a daily or weekly basis to check on their welfare, offer emotional and practical support and sign-post them to other relevant agencies.

·         Family Workers have supported colleagues in the Cambridge Community Services Health Visiting team by carrying out telephone reviews for parents with babies of 6-8 weeks old

·         We have been delivering remote activities for children such as messy play ideas, storytelling, and physical exercises through Facebook. Whilst parents have been supported with advice on parenting skills, healthy eating and personal well-being. All the activities are delivered by children’s centre staff ensuring that families see and are able to engage with familiar faces and staff that they know well. This has been very popular with parents.

Due to ongoing concerns about the spread of COVID19 especially as the days become colder, we will not be resuming our large stay and play sessions or parenting groups for parents and children. But we are now looking forward to opening our four children’s centre neighbourhood bases from September. The buildings have been risk-assessed and are Covid-safe. This means that families will be able to make an appointment to visit Dallow, Beech Hill, Park Town and Limbury to pick up Healthy Start vitamins, or to speak to a member of staff face to face. We will also offer small groups for parents either face to face or via video-conferencing. Please look on the children’s centre pages of the Flying Start website for details https://www.flyingstartluton.com/childrenscentres/

We are still accepting Service Request Forms from any professional who would like us to support families with under-fives.

Our Family Workers will still be providing support, advice and guidance by phone and parents can ring us on the appropriate number or email as below

Flying Start Central:          01582 546931 or flyingstartcentral@luton.gov.uk

Flying Start North:            01582 546925  or flyingstartnorth@luton.gov.uk

Flying Start South:            01582 546929 or flyingstartsouth@luton.gov.uk

Flying Start West:             01582 546932 or flyingstartwest@luton.gov.uk

We will continue to provide material on our Facebook pages for all families to access at a time that suits them such as home-learning ideas and activities, story times and rhyme times.

All Luton parents and carers are able to access FREE online courses at www.inourplace.co.uk using access code HATTERS and their Luton postcode.   This includes four courses; antenatal, postnatal, understanding your child and understanding your teenager’s brain.

Key information for parents such as videos of our three-week Bump to Babe course can be found on the Flying Start website: https://www.flyingstartluton.com/

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