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OBE for PACT’s Chief Executive Jan Fishwick

ADOPTION charity Parents And Children Together (PACT) is delighted to announce that its Chief Executive Jan Fishwick has been awarded an OBE in this year’s Queen’s Birthday Honours list.

Jan, who has worked in social care for more than 40 years, becoming a respected leader and advocate in the field of children and families, has been recognised for her service to children and her dedication to the public and voluntary sector. Over the course of her career she has helped achieve great outcomes for thousands of vulnerable children and families, both locally and nationally.

Jan has been Chief Executive at PACT since 2008, during which time the organisation has developed from a small adoption and fostering team to one of the largest voluntary adoption agencies in the UK. During her time at the helm 762 children have been placed with their forever family. Earlier this year the agency was again rated as outstanding following an Ofsted inspection, retaining the top rating it was first awarded in 2014.

A courageous and collaborative innovator, Jan has also helped advise and influence government policy on radical reform of adoption services through her work for the Consortium of Voluntary Adoption Agencies (CVAA) and as a member of the Adoption Leadership Boards in both London and the South East.

Jan, who lives outside High Wycombe, said she was “humbled and delighted” to receive the honour in recognition of her work. She said: “Notification of the award came as a great surprise to me as much of the work that PACT and CVAA undertake involves extensive team working and collaboration.

“Having worked in the rewarding w

Jan Fishwick, Chief Executive of Parents and Children Together (PACT)

orld of social care for more than 40 years, I have considerable respect for my dedicated colleagues and for the beneficiaries we serve. I have always promoted focusing our team efforts on improving the life chances of children and families, and I am very proud of what we have helped achieve.”

Jan’s career in social work began in 1975 as Deputy Matron of a 12-bed children’s home where she first gained an understanding of the need for early intervention for families and also encountered children waiting for adoptive families. Before joining PACT, she worked in several local authorities at senior levels.

Through her work at PACT she has helped bring stability to countless children and families through adoption, adoption support and via its community projects.

Her innovative thinking led to the launch of PACT’s unique Dual Approval scheme where parents were simultaneously approved to adopt and foster, and she was an influential supporter of the Home for Good campaign, a project reaching out to Christians to encourage them to adopt, with PACT taking part in the pilot scheme.

Jan was also a crucial part of the steering group that brought in the innovative adoption scheme It’s All About Me (IAAM), which uses social impact bonds to fund targeted family-finding for some of the country’s most vulnerable children.

She also led the development of PACT’s specialist services into its Family and Children Therapeutic Support (FACTS) service, which was voted “Voluntary Adoption Service of the Year” in the BAAF National Adoption Week Awards 2013.

It was under her leadership that PACT also broadened its remit to support people in the community through projects including Bounce Back 4 Kids (BB4K), which was launched in 2010 to support children and adults affected by domestic abuse, and Alana House, supporting vulnerable women. In 2014 Alana House won an award from the Howard League for Penal Reform in the Community Programme for Women category.

Ray Shostak CBE, Chair of the Board of Trustees of the CVAA, which Jan has been a board member of since 2009, and which she chaired from 2012 to 2014, said she justly deserved recognition for her contribution to the lives of thousands of young people and families, both locally and nationally, throughout her career.

“She gives generously her time to both the work of the board and in supporting colleagues as a respected leader within the field. She strives to collaborate, respects the views and opinions of others and is always ready to find solutions. She is a truly remarkable professional and leader.”

Jim Brown, Chairman of PACT’s Executive Board, added: “The trustees and staff at PACT are so pleased to hear about this award. Jan is an inspirational leader who has guided PACT successfully for the past nine years. The wider adoption sector has also benefitted greatly from Jan’s drive and direction over many years. However, this recognition is much about Jan the individual, a caring and humane person, an excellent professional with a passionate belief in helping families and children.”

PACT appeals for homes for disabled children

ADOPTION charity Parents And Children Together (PACT) is calling for people to consider adopting a child with additional needs.

PACT is particularly looking for people who can consider adopting children who have additional needs, including a physical or learning disability. Nicola* and her husband Mike* adopted Amelia*, who has cerebral palsy, when she was 18 months old through PACT. The couple already had a birth son who was four years old when they first approached PACT in 2014.

Nicola said: “Our birth son was the result of seven years of IVF and we did not feel we were able to go through that process again. We also felt our family was not complete, so we decided to adopt. We approached PACT as we had attended some of their local events and felt the ethos and approach matched ours.”

The couple, whose circumstances meant their adoption journey was more complicated than some, spent three years of preparation and waiting until they met their daughter. Nicola said: “The endless paperwork seemed so removed from a living, breathing child and truthfully we struggled to see a light at the end of the tunnel. However, we knew there was a child out there for us, so we persisted.

“She may be disabled and she may be adopted, but that is all just one part of who she is. She makes me angry, she makes us sad, she makes us laugh, and she brings endless joy. The wonderful matching team at PACT were there for us throughout the process, reassuring us it was about the right child and not just any child. And, of course, they were right. We were eventually matched with a child that put us well out of our comfort zone, but who is the most loving, sweetest addition to our family.”

To find out more click here or call 0300 456 4800.

*Not their real names.

Families needed to adopt siblings

PARENTS And Children Together (PACT) is searching for adopters who could provide a forever family for groups of siblings who need to stay together.

PACT has links with the Diocese as it was originally founded in 1911 by the then Bishop of Oxford. The charity supports families through adoption, award-winning therapeutic support and community projects. Last year PACT placed 91 children with 58 families through its adoption services.

There are currently more than 2,000 children waiting to be adopted in England, many of them are in sibling groups of two or more. The charity is particularly looking for adopters who can take a sibling group of three children to enable brothers and sisters to stay together.

Louise* and her husband Tom, from Oxfordshire, adopted Sophie, five, Ben, three, and Amy, two, through PACT in March 2011 as they were unable to have their own children. The siblings had been separated in foster care, and it was thought they might also be adopted by two families as it would be easier to place them that way. But Louise, who said she and Tom were keen to adopt more than one child, said: “Being able to bring them back together was such an important thing for us.”

Louise said there were definite logistical challenges of adopting three children and of making sure they met all their individual needs, but that they had received fantastic post-adoption support from PACT. She added: “Every day was, and still is, a challenge. But we are just a regular family getting on with life and enjoying ourselves. We would not change it for the world.”

Harry and his wife Claire’s dream of a family was realised when they adopted three siblings, all under four years old, through PACT in 2016. See the story here more on Harry and his plans to run the London Marathon for PACT. Harry said: “Seeing their smiling, excited faces when I come home from work or get off early and pick them up from school is more than I had ever dreamed of.

“We have benefited from one-to-one support from a therapeutic support worker which has been a great help settling our three children into their forever family and know that this support will be available if needed for the rest of their lives.”

Jonathan and Katherine, from Banbury, adopted three sisters through PACT in 2013. At the time the girls were three, two and a year old.
Katherine said: “We are delighted to be parents, thanks to PACT, and we are fortunate to be able to give a home to these three lovely girls. Now we have such a strong bond with them, they are part of our family and it’s a privilege to be their mum.”

PACT Chief Executive Jan Fishwick said: “Finding adopters with the skills and space for three children is crucial so that brothers and sisters, who have often had an unsettled enough start to their life, can be adopted and stay together with a new forever family.” PACT also runs frequent adoption information evenings where anyone considering adoption (not just those interested in adopting siblings) can find out more.

*Names have been changed to protect identities.

Limbering up to raise funds at the London Marathon

RUNNERS from across the Diocese are in training for the London Marathon to raise money for charities.

Tens of thousands of people pass Tower Bridge during the London Marathon. Photo: Shutterstock.

The Revd Kate Stacey, the Vicar of the Wychwood Benefice in Oxfordshire, and Ben Schiffer-Harte, a teacher who worships at St Mary’s, Thatcham are both in training to run the iconic 26.2 mile race for Christian Aid on Sunday 23 April.

Harry Routledge, 37, will be running to raise funds for Parents and Children Together (PACT). The Revd Janet Binns, the Rector of Hedsor with Bourne End Benefice in Buckinghamshire, is running to raise funds for an audio system in St Nicholas’s Church in Hedsor. Harry and his wife Claire adopted three children through PACT, the adoption charity that has close connections with the Oxford Diocese. Harry is one of seven runners who will be taking on the challenge for PACT.

Harry said: “Adoption is not easy for all concerned, but it’s absolutely worth it. We have become the ‘Fantastic 5’ and owe part of it to the support we received from PACT, as well as the fact that we would never have been introduced to our daughters and son if it had not been for this charitable organisation. To adopt a sibling group of three children is tough, even more so when they are all under four, particularly at once, but they deserved to stay together.”

For Ben, 2017 will be his eighth marathon and fourth in London. He is training with Thatcham based running club Team Kennet and hopes to complete the marathon in three hours. “For any marathon runner this is a huge achievement,” he says. Ben says that since joining St Mary’s, he and his wife Jo have been made to feel very welcome and made good friends.
They have been involved in fundraising events, including a quiz for Christian Aid. “Fast forward four months and I received a Golden Bond (a guaranteed charity place) courtesy of Christian Aid. To top it off and make it even more of an incentive for people to sponsor me I am running the Paris Marathon only two weeks earlier.”

London will be Kate’s first marathon and she says that being the Sunday after Easter Day, it’s not perfect timing for a vicar. “Trying to carve out the time for training is getting tricky as the runs get longer, but it’s a good discipline.”

When she reaches the start line at London, Janet will be embarking on her 12th marathon. “I am aiming to raise £2,000. I usually train for a time of three-and-a-half hours. London is amazing because the crowds are fantastic.”

PACT launches appeal help local children affected by domestic abuse

CHARITY Parents and Children Together (PACT) has launched a crowdfunding appeal to pilot a project supporting children under five who have witnessed domestic abuse.

The new programme will be part of PACT’s successful Bounce Back 4 Kids (BB4K) project which currently supports children living in the Thames Valley aged between five and 12. The programme is innovative, working with the child and non-abusing parent at the same time, providing therapeutic support following the trauma of a family breakdown.

BB4K has identified gaps in the provision of this type of support for other age groups and is experiencing a growing demand of referrals for children under the age of five.

PACT CEO Jan Fishwick said:

“Research has shown that by providing targeted early intervention and prevention support to this age group we can increase these children’s opportunities to have smoother transitions into primary school, improved family relationships, increased social skills and emotional intelligence.

“This project is very much needed, there were 41,846 domestic abuse incidents recorded by Thames Valley Police in 2014/15 and The Home Office and The Centre for Social Justice reports that 90% of children are in the same room or the room next door during attacks on their mothers.*

“If this cause is important to you please give what you can, whether it’s £5 or £500 it will make a real difference in these children’s lives.”

PACT has until February 2017 to reach its target of £10,420. There are various opportunities available depending on the amount pledged by individuals including meeting with PACT’s CEO and the BB4K delivery team.

To find out more about the project and donate visit: https://fundit.buzz/BounceBack4Kids

 

Sue and Diana named in the Queen’s Birthday Honour’s list

Sue Brett and Diana Hasting have been named in the Queen’s Birthday Honours list. Jo Duckles reports. 

DIANA has been awarded an MBE for her services to the family charity PACT. Diana, who visits Church House Oxford to proof read the Door every month, has been a trustee of PACT for 17 years. PACT was set up in 1911 as the Oxford Diocesan Council of Social Work to help the destitute.

Diana Hasting

Diana Hasting

Diana’s first job after leaving school was at 10 Downing Street as a Garden Room Girl. “It was an extremely grand typing pool that looked out over the gardens of the PM’s house. She left number 10 to marry a young barrister called, if you can believe it, Harold Wilson.

She was later the secretary to a charity called the Society for Computers and Law. “I used to visit solicitors’ officers and tell them that eventually every lawyer would have a computer on their desk and they fell off their chairs laughing, but it was just at the beginning.” Diana’s role was freelance and she also offered typing services and worked as a conference organiser.

She had three sons and a daughter to her first husband who was later a judge but they divorced in 1972. She married the late Peter Hasting in 1978 and says her MBE is a tribute to him. “He gave me the confidence to do things on my own and then encouraged me to go out and do them,” says Diana.
Her experience of family life inspired her to help with PACT when she discovered the charity at an Oxford Diocesan Synod meeting. “When I first joined it was very much a voluntary adoption agency,” she says. “Since then it has diversified very much into community work. For many years they ran Oxfordshire County Council’s children’s centres and they now run two big community projects – Alana House, a one-stop shop for disadvantaged women. We gave five girls from Alana disposable cameras and got them to take lots of pictures and talk about what it had meant to them to attend a conference in Brussels discussing the treatment of offenders in various countries.”

PACT’s other big project is Bounce Back 4 Kids – therapy for children who have witnessed domestic violence. “Sometimes they might have had to give evidence against one of their parents. The parent who has been the victim of domestic violence does a parallel course,” she says.

Diana is also a Poppy Appeal organiser for about 100 collectors and also offices and shops on Milton Park. “Peter and I did it and I continued after he died. She was a trustee of the Mothers’ Union Oxford Diocese for about 12 years and feels her MBE is in silent tribute to her MU work with families. She is a member of her Deanery Synod and Diocesan Synod and the PCC Secretary for All Saints Sutton Courtenay. She is also a member of the Oxfordshire fundraising committee for PACT. Diana says: “While the gong is in my name, I treat the honour as public recognition of PACT’s wonderful work in the Oxford Diocese.”

MOTHER-of-four Sue gave up her paid work to set up voluntary ventures to tackle food poverty in Maidenhead. She has been awarded a British Empire Medal.

Sue Brett

Sue Brett

Sue, from St Luke’s, Maidenhead, set up Open Kitchen in 2010 — providing nutritious meals for the homeless and vulnerable every day. “Anyone who wants to come along can have a free meal and break bread with us. We all sit down together. For the first couple of years I was involved every night, but thankfully we now have a lot of volunteers. It’s interfaith and during Ramadan the Muslims join us for that one particular meal and then at Eid we have a big celebration. It brings everyone together regardless of who they are or what they are, it shows that we are all one. For me this is my calling.”

Sue praised the volunteers who help make the kitchen possible. “I couldn’t do a quarter of what I do on my own,” she says. In 2014 Sue set up the Brett Foundation, providing housing essentials for people who can’t afford them, and school uniforms to around 100 poorer families.

Before starting her charity work, Sue had worked as a paralegal and as the administrator at St Luke’s Church. The letter informing Sue she had been awarded the medal came as a surprise. “You see all of the high flyers but I don’t think of myself as anything special, I’m just a mum,” she said. “I hope that the publicity it’s brought will help us to help more people. http://thebrettfoundation.org.uk/

Sue is married to John and has four children aged 27, 25, 21 and 20.

Funding for women ex-offenders at Alana House cut

AN AWARD-winning community project for vulnerable women in Reading will no longer be funded for its well established support work with female offenders. Alana House, which is run by the charity Parents And Children Together (PACT), will not receive funding to provide rehabilitation services for women offenders. It will, however, continue its early intervention and prevention work with vulnerable women with complex needs, some of whom are at risk of offending.

After a lengthy negotiation period, the newly formed Thames Valley Community Rehabilitation Company (CRC), formerly the Probation Service, has withdrawn from negotiations with the charity and announced it will not be funding Alana House to work with female offenders from 1 October.

Alana House has been working in partnership with the Probation Service in Reading for almost six years, and launched a successful satellite service in West Berkshire in 2014. The project provides holistic support for vulnerable women with complex needs and helps them to make positive life changes, develop new skills and reduce re-offending.

PACT’s Head of Communities Development Natausha van Vliet said: “Despite lengthy negotiations with Thames Valley CRC we are very disappointed that they will no longer be funding our work with women offenders from the end of this month. We will continue to develop our early intervention and prevention services that we provide for vulnerable women at Alana House. However this part of our work is entirely dependent on fundraising and voluntary donations. We will also carry on providing the successful service in West Berkshire in partnership with West Berkshire Public Health. We are concerned about the impact of this decision on the women offenders who have, up until now, been supported by Alana House. We truly hope that their needs will continue to be met.”

PACT Chief Executive Jan Fishwick said: “This is very disappointing, not just for Alana House, but for the many women who have turned their lives around since coming to us and those that will no longer be able to access these services at Alana House. PACT’s model for a unique package of support tailored to each woman has had incredible results. More than 70 women a month come to Alana House, and we have seen many of them make positive life changes.”

In 2014 Alana House won The Howard League for Penal Reform Award in the Community Programme for Women category.

PACT supports vulnerable families through outstanding adoption services, permanent fostering, award-winning therapeutic support and community projects in London and the south. The charity was originally founded by a former Bishop of Oxford and has strong links with the Diocese of Oxford.

Jonathan Kinsella, spokesman for the CRC, said the new organisation was one of 21 in the country that had been set up by the Government as part of a national overhaul of the Probation Service. He said: “Berkshire services for women will continue but possibly through a different provider and may be provided in a slightly different way.”

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.”

God in the Life Of retired judge Anthony King

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RETIRED Judge Anthony King tells Jo Duckles how a 40 year law career inspired him to become a trustee of Parents and Children Together (PACT). Anthony feels very lucky and grateful for what he describes as a privileged and comfortable life, growing up in north Somerset, going to boarding school where he got a satisfying education and on to Oxford University.

“I was brought up a cradle Christian. My mother was a deeply Christian person. I met my father for the first time when I was four. He’d had a torrid time in the Far East in the Second World War and came back a damaged individual. He had questions about his faith, but nevertheless he remained a Christian until his death,” says Anthony, who despite struggling with questions of faith in his late teens, never departed from Christianity, really finding the foundation of it when he married and had children.

“Of course as a lawyer I always wanted to look at an evidential basis for my Christianity and have never found one that satisfies me.” Despite never finding concrete evidence for Christianity, Anthony has chosen to believe despite admitting he will not fully know the truth until he “crosses the divide”.

Anthony became a lawyer because he enjoyed questioning and arguing and felt life as a barrister would be a huge adventure. “It was the opportunity to do what was right, fair and just, arguing for a cause and it was something I enjoyed.” Anthony says that when he was called to the Bar in 1966 there had been a big expansion in the number of barristers around due to the expansion of Legal Aid.

“To begin with I had to live on the sort of money people would not dream of living on. I supplemented the income by teaching and as a night lawyer, checking for defamation and contempt of court for a newspaper. I was looking for things that shouldn’t be published and pointing them out to the editors.”

Meanwhile Anthony considers himself to be incredibly lucky to have met his wife Camilla (known to her friends as Berti) under a table at a party in a shared flat. “We were sitting under the table because that was the only space there was,” says Anthony. “We got married two-and-a-half years later. We’ve been married 43 years and have three grown-up children.
“I have been very fortunate with my family and I think my marriage and my children have brought the greatest joy to my life.

“It all sounds as though I have had an extremely comfortable lifestyle but I have had opportunities to see how life could have turned out. During my student days I was a factory worker, a railway porter and a hospital porter for a radiotherapy department. I saw an awful lot of people who were extremely ill.”

His Bar work saw Anthony, who was based in London at the time, travel as far north as Durham and as far south as Exeter as well as everywhere in between. “I was a jack-of-all-trades doing family work, criminal work and civil work,” he says. As time went on his career saw him doing more and more criminal work until he reached the stage where he needed to decide whether to continue or change career.

“In those days you didn’t apply to be a judge. A fairly close record was kept of people who might be acceptable on the bench, in a file in the Lord Chancellor’s department. I was made a Recorder and sat for a month, then returned to my ordinary practice for the rest of the working year.”

The first time a letter arrived from the Lord Chancellor, Anthony didn’t accept the invitation. But when a second letter came a year later, he took the opportunity to be a circuit judge. “At first I was appointed to Birmingham, and two other courts but I really wanted to come to Oxford where I had been living and practised for a great number of years. I got that opportunity a few years later. I was invited to sit on cases of every kind and eventually on heavier crimes, although I wished I had been able to continue doing family work as well. I came to the conclusion that the most important work as far as I was concerned was family work, although I was extremely interested in criminal trials and I continued doing that until I retired just under three years ago.”

The work of a barrister or Crown Court Judge is not as easy as it may appear to anyone unfamiliar with the inner workings of the criminal justice system. There is a large amount of background reading for any case, before the lawyer dons their wig and gown ready for a court hearing or a trial. On top of that they must keep up to date with the law, which is always changing.  “You have to be able to compartmentalise the various cases you are working on, switching them out of your brain when a hearing ends to go on to concentrate on the next one,” says Anthony. “If you are presiding over a case you have to prepare judgments and summing up.  On the other hand I had a very strong sense that the job I was doing was something that was really needed by the public and from a professional point of view I enjoyed hearing really well argued and explained cases.”

As he gained experience Anthony was given approval for sitting on the trials that were deemed more difficult and serious, including alleged murders. “I found my career absolutely fascinating from beginning to end. I wondered whether retirement was going to be hugely disappointing following that but I was able to retire at almost 70, when I chose to, and I have not regretted the decision at all.”

But in a world where the grimmest stories of life in the UK are played out every day, how did Anthony retain his cheerful persona and Christian faith? “I became case hardened for most of it. You have to sit back and do your job in a professional way. At the Bar as well as on the Bench I have been faced with cases I have never forgotten.” Those cases include defending alleged child sex offenders and others, when at times there may be previous convictions that cannot be revealed to a jury.  “As well as those serious occasions though, there are also an awful lot of comic moments and you get to know those who are practising in the same field. Your relationships with your fellow professionals are very important indeed.”

“The one thing that struck me throughout my professional life was that what is so important on both the family and criminal benches are young people. By the time they got to the stage of coming to court it was often too late. When they found themselves on the wrong side of the law and with things going wrong for them it was because they didn’t have the opportunity I had of a secure, loving and safe home.”

Anthony is loving his retirement, taking the time to do fishing, gardening, bridge and amateur drama. He decided he also wanted to do something really constructive, and with his experiences in the family court, he decided becoming a trustee of PACT would be just the thing.

“While I don’t have a knowledge of business I have something to contribute through my knowledge and 45 years in law of the things that can go wrong in family life and in particular the huge merits of providing a safe home for children in a loving environment when the child’s own parents are not able to provide that.”

Anthony and Berti, who is a Roman Catholic, live in Drayton St Peter. They have two grown-up sons, one in the Navy and one working for a bank in Australia, and a grown-up daughter who is the head of a school for children with learning disabilities. They also have four grandchildren.

Retired judge Anthony King visits Diocesan Church House. Photo: Jo Duckles

Retired judge Anthony King visits Diocesan Church House. Photo: Jo Duckles

 

God in the Life Of Jan Fishwick

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Jan Fishwick, Chief Executive of PACT. (Photo from PACT.)

Jan Fishwick, Chief Executive of PACT. (Photo from PACT.)

JAN Fishwick knows only too well that for many children and adults, Christmas is not a warm family celebration. Jan, who began her career at 18 as deputy matron of a children’s home, tells of her journey to becoming the Chief Executive of fostering and adoption charity, Parents and Children Together (PACT).

With a great grandfather who helped Dr Thomas Barnado set up one of his first children’s homes, Jan believes the drive to give hope to people who are less fortunate is in her DNA. Born into a Christian family on the Wirral, Jan has two sisters and faith was very much part of her family life as she grew up. “So was a social conscience and being aware of other people’s needs,” says Jan. “In 1960s I remember knitting squares and making them into blankets for vulnerable children. I raised money for the NSPCC making cakes and selling them. I always had a sense of the needs of families who were less fortunate than ours.

“We were not super-rich financially but we were rich in the opportunities we had and in terms of being part of a loving family,” says Jan. When she left school Jan knew that she didn’t want to follow the traditional route of university and literally took a ferry across the Mersey to Liverpool for a careers interview with Barnardo’s. “I tried to follow a course that was right for me rather than what was expected,” says Jan, who felt pressure from teachers to do a degree. “My parents were really supportive and helped me map out my career.”

Jan says her first job in the 12 bedded children’s home was a baptism of fire. While for many that would be a daunting prospect, Jan says she took it in her stride. “I was often in charge and it was my first experience of children waiting for families.”  She would try and make Christmas as nice a day as possible for the children in the home. She helped raise awareness in her church about her Christmas Day work to help others be more mindful of life for children in care.
Jan went on to become a qualified social worker, a role that was both challenging and rewarding, with the responsibility of, among other things, carrying out mental health sections, assessing the needs of some of society’s most vulnerable people.

“It gave me a great grounding and taught me that the need is great. I knew I could play my part and that is still what motivates me. My husband Ian is an ordained priest so I have been a vicar’s wife, which can be like a second job on the side.” Jan appreciated being able to take time out from her career when her children were small. “Family life is really important to me, especially making sure we had enough time together as a clergy family,” she says.

Jan joined the Reading-based PACT in 2008. She oversees not just fostering and adoption services but also Alana House, which supports vulnerable women, including those in the criminal justice system, and Bounce Back 4 Kids, helping children affected by domestic violence. PACT’s staff will be working hard to improve Christmas for those who use their services. “For all of the people we help Christmas can be one of the most stressful times of the year. It can be lonely and there is a lot of pressure in terms of money. Christmas is a time of mixed emotions for a lot of people. Women at Alana house get goodie bags with toiletries and basics, just things that we take for granted. A lot of them are homeless or street workers and come with nothing and we give very small things that ordinarily they may not have,” says Jan, who strongly believes in instilling hope into people’s lives.

“We absolutely believe that life can change for people. Adults can take charge of that themselves but for children we have a huge responsibility to make sure that they are safe and in loving families. There is a whole theology around adoption, going back to the concept of us all being adopted by God, into his family, which brings a sense of belonging and acceptance.

Jan says that churches, church schools and individuals, church goers and non-church goers can all support PACT. They can help raise awareness and funds during particular events like Adoption Sunday, Foster Care Fortnight, Mothering Sunday and at Christmas. They can collect toiletries, non-perishable food and books for PACT families and they can hold fundraising events.

“We had a lovely response from a diocesan synod that did some work with clergy and decided to support us,” says Jan. “Some people have offered to raise awareness about PACT’s services, to link work they are doing with Home for Good to PACT , to encourage financial support and to provide goodie bags to Alana House. Church schools can do that as well. That encourages children from a really young age to look outside themselves and be grateful for what they have.”

Jan describes herself as ambitious, despite being aware of negative connotations of the word. “I am ambitious because there is still unmet need. I have a responsibility to grow the services of PACT to meet that unmet need.
“Too many children are waiting for adoption. Too many families are not getting the resources they need and there are not enough to go around. When you work for a charity you have to find funding and that can be statutory funding but also giving from trusts and churches,” she says.

Jan does not differentiate between her spiritual life and her working life. “It’s just so integrated,” she says, telling the story of PACT’s beginnings, from a donation of £100 in 1910 to the Bishop of Oxford to address the vulnerabilities of needy families in the Oxford Diocese. “I have the responsibility and privilege of leading PACT for this chapter in its history. Over the last 100 years the needs have changed but the need is just as great,” adds Jan.
For more go to www.pactcharity.org or call 0300 456 4800. Jan is married to Ian, a priest, and has three grown up sons and three grandsons. Jan and Ian worship at Contemplative Fire – a Fresh Expression community based in the High Wycombe area.

 

Church of England school children and Bishop John celebrate Pact's 100th anniversary in 2011.

Church of England school children and Bishop John celebrate Pact’s 100th anniversary in 2011.

PACT is charity partner for Dorchester Festival 2015

FAMILY support charity Parents And Children Together (PACT) has been chosen as the official charity partner of the Dorchester-on-Thames Festival 2015.

The biennial event is one of Oxfordshire’s leading festivals and will be held at Dorchester Abbey from 1st – 10th May 2015.  More than 3,000 people are expected to enjoy over 40 events including The Tallis Scholars, a Come and Sing with John Rutter, a Food Fair with cookery demonstrations and a wide variety of children’s entertainment.

PACT was chosen from a shortlist of six charities bidding to be the official event partner and share the Festival proceeds with Dorchester Abbey. PACT has been building and strengthening families since 1911 through adoption, long-term fostering, award-winning therapeutic services and community projects across London and the south.

It hopes to use the funds raised from the festival to open a new family therapy room in Oxford which will help adopted and fostered children to address painful issues from their past. PACT chief executive Jan Fishwick said: “We are honoured and excited to have been chosen as the official charity partner of the Dorchester-on-Thames Festival in 2015.

“We opened our first family therapy room in Reading in 2013 which has provided a safe and calm space for many families to work through difficult times and help the adoption or foster placement succeed. We would love to use the funds we receive as a result of this partnership to be able to open a new family therapy room in Oxfordshire.”

PACT’s therapeutic services FACTS won Voluntary Adoption Service of the Year in the BAAF National Adoption Week Awards in November 2013.

An Ofsted inspection in January rated PACT’s adoption service as outstanding across all four assessed areas.

 

First birthday for PACT’s Oxford office

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FIFTY families from Oxfordshire have applied to adopt through Parents And Children Together (PACT) in the 12 months since the charity opened a new office in the county. PACT opened its base in Watlington Road, Cowley, in order to find more permanent, loving families for children in care. TV presenter and PACT adopter Saira Khan officially opened the office in July 2013.

PACT also has office locations in Reading, two in London and will soon be opening a fifth office in Brighton Since the opening, 183 families have enquired about adoption, 23 have been through the process to the point of being approved to adopt and 19 children have been placed with 15 families in the county. The charity has had links with the Oxford Diocese since it was founded in 1911.

PACT’s Adoption and Fostering Team Manager for Oxford Simon Furlong said: “Its been a busy but very successful first year for the new PACT Oxford office. We have had a lot of couples and single people from the county and beyond coming forward and its wonderful to support them on their journey to becoming a forever family for a child in care.”

Any families considering adoption are invited to attend an information event at PACT’s Oxford office on Tuesday 9th September from 7pm-8.30pm.

PACT supports vulnerable families through outstanding adoption services, permanent fostering, award-winning therapeutic support and community projects in London and the south east.

PACT’s adoption services were judged as “outstanding” by Ofsted in January 2014 and its therapeutic services FACTS were voted “Voluntary Adoption Service of the Year” in the BAAF National Adoption Week Awards 2013.