Supporting families

Foster Care Fortnight takes place from 1 to 15 June. The Door focuses on the work of PACT (Parents and Children Together)  – a fostering and adoption charity that works tirelessly to help children and families in this Diocese and beyond.

Back in 1911 PACT was the idea of the then Bishop of Oxford and was established as the social welfare arm of the Anglican Diocese of Oxford. Today PACT continues to be supported by the Diocese in the area of nurturing family life. It runs award winning therapeutic services and community projects across London and the South. PACT

One of its next charity fundraisers will be a Midsummer supper at the Slug and Lettuce at Oxford Castle on Thursday 25 June at 6.30pm, with ITV’s Martin Lewis, who is the creator of the moneysavingexpert.com website and presenter of the Martin Lewis Money Show. His co-presenter Saira Khan adopted her daughter Amara through PACT and is part of the organizing committee.

Guests will be able to meet Martin and take part in a Q&A session with him before dinner is served at 8.30pm. Martin said: “I’m delighted to be able to support PACT and their work providing therapy for adopted and fostered children – and I’m looking forward to a fun evening in Oxford on 25 June.

“Everyone deserves a good start in life, and providing support and help in early years reaps huge rewards later. Yet sadly, for many reasons, that isn’t always possible.
“The support and help given by PACT to help children come to terms with neglect and abuse they have suffered before being adopted or fostered is crucial. If we can’t help from day one, we need to try even harder to redress the balance later.”

Tickets for the event cost £30 which includes a three-course meal and a glass of bubbly. PACT Chief Executive,

Jan Fishwick, said: “We are thrilled to have Martin’s support at this fundraising dinner and would encourage people to buy their tickets soon before they sell out. ”
Bouncing back

YOUNGSTERS who have witnessed or experienced domestic abuse in their families are being helped to get over their experiences through Bounce Back 4 Kids (BB4K).
The 10-week programme is run by Parents and Children Together (PACT) with sessions for the parent or guardian of the child and the child themselves, to help them deal with their experiences and break the cycle of abuse.

Children aged five to 12 are referred through schools, social workers, doctors and others, provided the perpetrator of the abuse has left the family home. “It helps them rebuild resilience and self- esteem, realising they are not alone in their experiences. When others say ‘My dad did that’ it can be quite empowering for them,” says Kathryn Warner, the BB4K manager.

“We run a group for the non-abusive parent or carer. Sometimes it’s the nan who comes along if they are looking after the child. The idea behind that is to help them understand what we are doing with the children, the impact the abuse has had on the children and how they can change negative messages in the home. Parenting is undermined if you are in constant fear and your attachment to the child is affected. We do a lot of work round the relationship between the child and the mum or other carer, giving them ideas for addressing behaviours that can be quite challenging, or if a child is withdrawn or sad.”

At the end of the 10 weeks a meeting is held with the family to see if there are other needs that can be addressed and to help give advice on where they can go for more help.
BB4K is five years old this year and is growing geographically from Oxfordshire into Berkshire and beyond. The organisers are keen to work with church schools in the Diocese that may be aware of families who would benefit from accessing the programme. It is currently offered free although in the future PACT may need to attach a cost.

For more information email kathryn.warner@pactcharity.org.

Archie’s Story

THE difference in eight-year-old Archie after he took part in Bounce Back 4 Kids was amazing.

After his father inflicted domestic abuse on his mum, Archie was reluctant to leave her side. He was demanding, prone to outbursts of anger and despite wanting to make friends, his controlling behaviour alienated other children at school. His mum, Rachel, had suffered with anxiety as a result of the abuse, and on some days found it hard to leave the house. She was worried that Archie was affected by her behaviour. She knew she would find joining a parents’ group difficult, but did it because she knew it would help Archie.

Archie joined in enthusiastically during the children’s sessions, giving thoughtful and insightful suggestions and comments. He particularly enjoyed a session with Police Community Support Officers who talked about how children can keep themselves safe.

The BB4K team were even able to help Archie with difficulties when his dad made negative comments about the scheme.
After joining the scheme, which is free for participants and funded by PACT, Archie stated that he had learnt that “people aren’t scary and that the police aren’t scary.”

He also said he remembered playing with new friends and talking about his feelings. His school described him as a “happy young man who is sociable”. The school also commented that they had noticed a change in Rachel. Pre-group she would stand at the back of the playground with her hood up, avoiding contact with other parents.

Post-group she chatted comfortably with others and took more care over her appearance. She stated that following the group Archie’s temper tantrums were few and far between. During her time on the course Rachel enrolled on two college courses and began to look for voluntary work. She said she was enjoying being a parent more, and noticed that the change in her own behaviour had a positive effect on Archie. “When I am calm he is calm,” she said. When asked if she would recommend BB4K to other parents she said: “It is good for your self-esteem and confidence.”

Rachel and Archie are not the Bounce Back 4 Kids participants’ real names.

Abesiling at the Abbey

MORE than £6,000 was raised for PACT’s therapeutic services during the annual Dorchester Festival which drew record numbers of people and saw several events sold out.

Sue Booys about to abseil.  Photo: Oxford Mail/Cliff Hide

Sue Booys about to abseil. Photo: Oxford Mail/Cliff Hide

Jan Fishwick, PACT’s CEO, the Rector of Dorchester Abbey, the Revd Canon Sue Booys, and the Bishop of Oxford’s Chaplain, the Revd Graham Sykes, were among those who abseiled down the Abbey Tower to raise funds.

The Revd Canon Sue Booys, the Rector of Dorchester Abbey, said: “It has gone brilliantly. We have more people across a broad variety of ages for a huge range of different events. We have had record attendances.”
Music, comedy, a fun-run, Star Wars special effects expert Ben Morris, and a rubber duck race were all part of the festival that spanned two weeks in May. A scarecrow festival, with themed scarecrows was part of the event, along with a night of folk music, puppets and face painting.

The funds raised were split between PACT and the abbey, with £6,000 going to each. “We chose PACT because they are for families, help people of all ages and particularly because it is a diocesan charity and I’m a trustee,” says Sue.

 

 

Become a PACT parish

PARISHES, individuals and schools across the Diocese can support PACT.

Two parishes that donate to the charity every year are St Dunstan’s, Monks Risborough and St Peter’s, Wolvercote.

It was a teenage boxing match with the former Bishop of Oxford, the Rt Revd Richard Harries, that years later prompted Douglas Miller, the PCC Secretary from St Dunstan’s, to attend a ‘do’ at the Bishop’s house.
Douglas was just 14 when he said Lord Harries of Pentregarth, then 15, won the match. The next time they met they were both undergraduates at Cambridge, when Douglas learnt that the young Richard Harries was reading theology.

“I went to the ‘do’ at the Bishop’s house and learnt all about PACT,” says Douglas, who signed up his parish as a supporter.  I felt it was a rather worthwhile charity and I supported it personally,” says Douglas. St Dunstan’s supports several charities, which are reviewed, but so far PACT has remained on the list. “It was clear PACT was doing a good job of repairing problems caused for children who hadn’t experienced proper family life.”

Sarah Pepys, from St Peter’s, Wolvercote, worked for PACT from 2005 to 2010 as the charity’s Director of Adoption and Fostering Services. Previously she had worked for the local authority.
“I loved working for PACT. It is a very well organised charity that looks after its staff well. It knows what it is doing in the adoption and fostering sector.”

When she moved to Oxford she began talking about PACT’s work at St Peter’s, Wolvercote. “It may have changed its name from the Oxford Moral Welfare Association to PACT to make it more accessible but nevertheless the church connections are very important so it became one of three charities that we make a donation to each year.

“They are very keen to go and talk to parishes about how they support families with particular emotional issues and about what they are looking for in families. The support goes on for the life of an adoption. Everyone who is thinking of adoption should look at PACT and see if it works for them.”

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