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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.

Top award for Alana House

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A COMMUNITY project in Reading has scooped a top award in recognition of its work with vulnerable women.Award2 Jul14

Alana House, which is run by the charity Parents And Children Together (PACT), won The Howard League for Penal Reform Award in the Community Programme for Women category.

Alana House supports women with complex needs, including ex-offenders and those at risk of offending, and helps them to make positive life changes and develop new skills.

The award comes in the same week as Alana House opens up a new satellite branch in Newbury and will be reaching out to support women in West Berkshire in addition to those it already works with in Reading.

Alana House West Berkshire will be holding drop-in sessions from Broadway House, Newbury, on Fridays from 1.30pm-3.30pm. One-to-one support appointments can be made at other times.

The Howard League for Penal Reform is a national charity working for less crime, safer communities and fewer people in prison. It makes annual awards to well resourced and well structured programmes that raise public protection, bring down the rate of offending, and repay the damage done by crime in a way which custodial sentences cannot.

PACT’s Chief Executive Jan Fishwick, Head of Communities Development Natausha van Vliet and Trustee Rev Tim Edge received the award from HRH The Princess Royal at a ceremony at Cavendish Square, London, yesterday (15th July).

Head of Communities Development Natausha van Vliet said: “We are so thrilled to receive this prestigious award on behalf of our wonderful team and the inspiring women we support. We look forward to further developing our work with vulnerable women in the future and helping them to make positive changes in their lives.”

Chief Executive Jan Fishwick said: “I am full of pride for the Alana House team who do an incredible job every day and this award recognizes that.”

The Revd Tim Edge, PACT Trustee and chairman of the charity’s Communities Committee said: “It was a privilege to be at the award ceremony on behalf of PACT, and I agree, we can be proud of all those who have worked to make Alana House work.”

The award is the latest accolade for PACT, which has had a successful few months.

The charity’s therapeutic support for adopted and fostered children was named Voluntary Adoption Service of the Year in the BAAF National Adoption Week Awards in October 2013.

In January, PACT’s adoption services were rated as “outstanding” across all four assessed areas by Ofsted and, in June, it received the bronze award from Investors in People.

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

To find out more about Alana House West Berkshire visit www.pactcharity.org/alana_house.

HRH the Countess of Wessex to visit PACT at Dorchester Abbey

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A ROYAL visitor is to help children’s charity Parents And Children Together (PACT) commemorate more than 100 years of building and strengthening families.

HRH The Countess of Wessex will attend a ceremony at Dorchester Abbey, Oxfordshire, on Thursday February 13 to find out about PACT’s work, unveil a plaque and bury a time capsule in the grounds. The time capsule will contain items collected from a number of PACT projects and service users to demonstrate the charity’s work in adoption, fostering and community projects.

The ceremony will also be attended by local dignitaries, trustees of PACT and children from Englefield School in Berkshire and Dorchester School in Oxfordshire. PACT chief executive Jan Fishwick said: “We are thrilled and honoured that HRH The Countess of Wessex will be visiting us at Dorchester Abbey for this exciting occasion. PACT began in 1911 when the then Bishop of Oxford wanted to help unmarried mothers make a better life for their children. Today PACT looks very different but our core aim to build and strengthen families still remains. The time capsule will serve as a record of our work so far and a celebration of all we have achieved.”

PACT finds forever families for children in care through adoption and fostering services in London and the south east. PACT provides award-winning therapeutic services to help make adoptions succeed. It also runs inspirational community projects including Alana House – a women’s community project in Reading – and Bounce Back 4 Kids, a programme for children who have witnessed domestic abuse.

 

Carol concert for adoption charity at Dorchester Abbey

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THE annual carol concert at Dorchester Abbey raised £1,000 for the charity Parents and Children Together (PACT). Read the Oxford Mail’s report here.