New Head of Adoption for PACT

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Lorna Hunt joined Parents and Children Together (PACT) as Head of Adoption last year. She told Pathways her journey towards working for PACT – a charity with its roots in the Diocese of Oxford.

Where did you grow up? Education – where did you go to university?
I grew up in County Fermanagh, Northern Ireland, one of four children. I went to University in Northern Ireland before moving to Berkshire to start my social work career. I then completed a Master’s degree at Reading University.

How did you get into working in adoption services?
I have always worked in Children’s Social Care for the past 32 years starting as a front-line social worker moving up to spending the last 8 and a half years as Assistant Director in two of the Berkshire Local Authorities. While these roles covered everything from child protection, youth offending, children with disabilities to children in care, my passion has always been to ensure that children have a future where they can grow and flourish and for many, if they are unable to safely remain with their birth families, this has been the role of either fostering or adoption.

What’s your previous work history?
I have worked as a social worker in four different local authorities within Berkshire, taking time out and working part-time for nine years after the adoption of our first child in 2000. I have also been a school governor for eight years.

What made you decide to work for PACT?
After having worked for so long in the Public Sector, I felt the time has come for me to do something different and I wanted to move into the charity sector. I looked at several charities when my current role as Head of Adoption came up, the timing was excellent, and it had the additional factor that it was the adoption agency through which we adopted our children. I saw it as an opportunity to give something back to the agency who gave my family so much over the years.

What are the biggest challenges facing PACT and other adoption services?
The biggest challenge is not having enough adopters for the many children who need forever families. There is a national shortage of adopters, almost three times more children in care as there are families for them. These children will grow up the care system if there are not enough families to care for them

What’s the biggest challenge of your new job?
Finding enough families for the many children who need them, offering them the love, stability and security they need, and enabling them to flourish in a loving family. On the other hand, it is a privilege to be part of PACT and work to find these forever families for children.

What is the best part of your new job?
The best part is seeing children being matched to their new families and meeting adopted children who have flourished years after having been adopted. I am working with an amazing team of staff who are so experienced in the world of adoption which makes it so much easier for me to adjust to the change in role. During my first week in post, I attended a book launch of a pastor Earl D Robinson and his wife who have adopted three girls and he wrote a book about his journey ‘Our Road to Adoption’ and how it related to his faith. A lovely way to see the positive impact of adoption.

What are your connections to the Diocese of Oxford (Do you worship in one of our churches?) If you have a faith, how does this relate to your day job?
I have been an active member of Greyfriars Church in Reading for 28 years. My faith is important to me and plays a key role in my desire to see the needs of children met and reach their potential. PACT works closely with Home for Good, which has the vision of achieving a home for every child who needs one.

What advice would you give to anyone considering adoption?
Adoption is one of the most rewarding things to do either to start your family or to add to it. The PACT website has so much information for anyone thinking about exploring this option (pactcharity.org) or ring 0300 456 4800 to find out more. Information evenings are regularly held throughout the year in Reading, Oxford, London and Brighton and are an excellent way for anyone to meet with adoptive families who will speak about their experience and staff are available to answer any queries. Anyone considering this as an option would be very welcome to join us at these sessions which are held on a 1-2 monthly basis. A guide to Adoption is also available to download from the PACT website.

If you are happy to, could you please give some personal details – where you live, marital status, any children, hobbies?
I am married to Ian, celebrating our 25th wedding anniversary earlier year and we have two adopted children, a daughter aged 19 at Cardiff University and a son aged 17 who has started studying for his A levels. We have a dog called Nelson and enjoy walking with him in the woods near our home, going to the theatre or having friends round for supper.