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Happy Father’s Day from PACT

FOR 54 dads who have adopted children through Parents And Children Together (PACT) over the last year Father’s Day on Sunday (17th June) will be extra special. Read more

Can you complete a Marathon in May for PACT?

ADOPTION charity Parents And Children Together (PACT) has launched an exciting new fundraising appeal that challenges people to complete a marathon in a month in support of its work. Read more

Finding loving homes for children in care

FOR Elizabeth and Timothy Webber the amazing example of a Romanian orphanage, where children were truly happy because they were loved, inspired them to become adoptive parents. Elizabeth tells Jo Duckles how they adopted through Parents and Children Together (PACT) and Home for Good – an initiative that aims to raise awareness of the need for forever families for children in care.

Read more

Finding loving homes for children in care

FOR Elizabeth and Timothy Webber the amazing example of a Romanian orphanage, where children were truly happy because they were loved, inspired them to become adoptive parents. Elizabeth tells Jo Duckles how they adopted through Parents and Children Together (PACT) and Home for Good – an initiative that aims to raise awareness of the need for forever families for children in care.

Read more

Happy Mother’s Day from PACT

PARENTS And Children Together (PACT) is wishing a very happy Mother’s Day to all the mums who are celebrating this special day after adopting children through the charity.

The adoption charity, which supports families across the South East and beyond through outstanding adoption services, award-winning therapeutic support and community projects, would particularly like to thank the 50 new mums who adopted children with PACT last year.

PACT was founded in 1910 after a £10 donation was made to the Bishop of Oxford to address the vulnerabilities of needy families in the Thames Valley Region.

Now one of the leading adoption charities in the country, PACT specialises in finding secure and loving homes for those priority children who can be harder to place and can face the longest wait for their forever family. These include children over four years old, in sibling groups of two or three, of BME heritage or with additional needs.

There are currently more than 2,000 children waiting to be adopted in England. Karen and Charmaine, who adopted their youngest daughter through PACT, said adoption had transformed their lives.

Charmaine said: “Before adopting my little girl, I never believed I would feel like a mum, despite how much I wanted to be one. From the moment Jessica arrived, I now can’t remember not being her mum. I feel blown away every time I hear the word. I can’t hear it enough.”

Karen added: “Mother’s Day for me is a day to reflect and say ‘we did it!’ We have formed our own, perfectly unique family and have a huge amount of love for each other.”

Liz and her husband adopted two girls through PACT. She said it was an “honour and a privilege” to become their mum.

She said: “I will never forget the first day of introductions when we walked into our girls former foster carers’ house to be greeted by one of the girls putting her arms out to me and saying, “You are my new mummy!” From that moment on I have never looked back. Every single day is an absolute honour and a privilege to be our children’s mummy.”

Jan Fishwick OBE, Chief Executive of PACT, said: “This Mother’s Day I would like to thank all the amazing women who have adopted children with PACT over the years, particula

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

rly those who may be celebrating this special day as a mum for the first time.

“I would also like to renew our plea for anyone who is thinking about adoption as a way of starting or extending their family to get in touch. There are so many children in need of a loving mum and we would really like to hear from anyone who thinks they might be able to help.”

To find out more about adopting with PACT visit www.pactcharity.org or call 0300 456 4800.

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.

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.”