Recent News

  • 11th October 2017

    PACT supports National Adoption Week

    ADOPTION charity Parents And Children Together (PACT) is supporting a national campaign appealing for more people to consider adopting brothers and sisters in groups of two or more.PACT, which last year placed 87 children with 62 families through its adoption services, is taking part in the annual National Adoption Week which runs from 16th to 22nd October.This year the campaign, organised by First 4 Adoption, is focusing on the need to find the right adopters for sibling groups. New figures released by First 4 Adoption reveal that 59 per cent of the children in the South East waiting for adoptive families are brothers and sisters in groups of two or more.PACT is supporting the national campaign by renewing its call for adopters who can adopt a sibling group of two or more children to enable brothers and sisters to stay together.Harry and his wife Claire adopted three siblings, all under four years old, through PACT in 2016. He said:"To adopt a sibling group of three has been the toughest and single most rewarding thing my wife and I have done. Our children have been kept together which in turn has helped with their transition to our family whilst also helping to keep their identity."Jan Fishwick OBE, Chief Executive of PACT, who has been shortlisted as a finalist in The Gareth Marr Award for Lifetime Achievement at this year’s National Adoption Week Awards, said she was delighted the agency was again supporting the national week of awareness-raising and she was particularly pleased it was focusing on the need for more adopters for siblings.She said: "At PACT we are always looking for people who could parent siblings as these children often face the longest wait for their forever family. Finding adopters with the skills and space for two or more children is crucial so that brothers and sisters, who have often had an unsettled enough start to their life, can stay together with their adoptive parents."Our teams are well-experienced at matching and placing sibling groups and in supporting these families. I would encourage anyone who could consider adopting a sibling group of two or more children to get in touch with us and find out more about what is involved. "As part of its support for National Adoption Week, staff from PACT will also be manning an information stand in Reading town centre on Thursday 19th October where people can find out more about the agency’s adoption services."To find out more about adopting with PACT visit www.pactcharity.org or call 0300 456 4800.

  • 02nd October 2017

    Can you hold a Pizza Party for PACT?

    PARENTS And Children Together (PACT) is encouraging people to support its work by holding a fundraising Pizza Party for PACT this month.The adoption charity, which supports families across the south east and beyond through adoption, award-winning therapeutic support and community projects, launched its new campaign by hosting its own Pizza Party for staff at each of its offices in Reading, London and Brighton, and is now appealing for supporters to enjoy a slice of the action!To take part all you need to do is invite your family, friends, neighbours or colleagues, either make your own pizza or order some in, and then ask your guests to make a donation to PACT. The charity is asking for people to host their parties during October ideally, but if this is not possible, any time is fine.Fundraising Manager Laura Davison said: “Your party doesn’t need to be large and shouldn’t be too complicated or require a lot of time, resources or money – it should just be a fun and easy way to get together with friends, enjoy some yummy food and help raise funds for a great cause.“There is lots of information about how you can get involved on our website, including party invites, posters and bunting plus recipe ideas and a Pizza Party sweepstake game. Please do get in touch if you have any questions, and we’d love to hear how your parties go!”PACT Chief Executive Jan Fishwick OBE added: “I think this is a really great way for families, friends, neighbours and colleagues to get together and raise funds for our vital work. Every single party will make a difference by enabling us to reach out and support more vulnerable children and families.”To find out more see www.pactcharity.org/pizza or if you have any questions or would like to request a fundraising pack please email fundraising@pactcharity.org

  • 28th September 2017

    PACT statement on Adoption UK/BBC Survey

    Adoption changes the lives of hundreds of people every year and provides stability and security for some of society’s most vulnerable children. The survey carried out by Adoption UK and the BBC found that nine out of 10 adopters said they were glad they adopted. Media reports about the survey also highlighted that many adoptive families are living with difficult issues including violent behaviour. PACT recognises that alongside the joys of adopting there are sometimes challenges. When children have experienced trauma in their early lives before being adopted there is always a risk that this may impact their behaviour later on.PACT prides itself on its adoption support services, including its award-winning therapeutic support service FACTS, to help its families prepare for adoption and for life afterwards.PACT offers a comprehensive training programme for adopters and has therapeutically trained social workers on hand to support families, including those dealing with complex behaviour and violence. PACT is about to launch its innovative Online Adoption Support Service which includes e-learning, one-to-one live peer support, adopter forums and webinars. We hope this offers adoptive families even more vital support when they need it. PACT welcomes the government’s commitment to adoption support, including the Adoption Support Fund, which provides funding for therapeutic support.

  • 31st August 2017

    PACT holds special event for prospective adopters

    PACT is holding a special event in Reading for anyone interested in finding out more about adoption.The agency is inviting anyone considering adoption to come along to the event on Saturday 9th September at which a panel of PACT adopters will be sharing their adoption stories and answering questions about their experiences of adoption.There will also be opportunities for people to talk individually with experienced adopters and PACT social workers as well as to meet other prospective adopters over refreshments.PACT supports families across the south east through adoption, award-winning therapeutic support and community projects. Last year PACT placed 87 children with 62 families through its adoption services. There are currently more than 2,000 children waiting to be adopted in England.PACT is particularly looking for couples or single people, including those from the LGBT community, who can consider adopting children over four years old, sibling groups of two or more children, children with a black or minority ethnic background and children who may have physical or learning disabilities. PACT is also keen to hear from people interested in its Foster for Adoption initiative. This involves babies and young children being placed with potential adopters under a temporary fostering arrangement while decisions are made through the family court process about the child’s future.Karen and Charmaine, who have two adopted daughters, the youngest of whom they adopted through PACT last year, are among the adopters taking part in the panel.Karen said: “Adoption really has shaped my life. It is without doubt, the most incredible journey I have ever been on and my wife and I now have the most beautiful life with our two adopted daughters.“The events PACT run to find out more can be the start of an exciting and rewarding adventure. It's a chance to meet others thinking about adopting, as well as hear from people like me and my wife about what it's all about. It can be a very reassuring opportunity to ask all those questions you have been thinking about and find out the next step so do come along if you can.” PACT Chief Executive Jan Fishwick added: “This event is an ideal opportunity for anyone considering adoption to find out what this is really like from people who have already done this. If you are at all interested in starting or extending your family through adoption please do come along to hear from and speak to some of our inspirational families and expert staff to help work out if this is right for you.”The event will be held at PACT’s office on South Street, Reading from 10am until midday. It will start with a brief presentation about the adoption process followed by the question and answer session with the panel of adopters. It is free to attend, but people will need to book a place by calling 0300 456 4800 or emailing enquiries@pactcharity.org PACT is also holding an adoption information evening in London on Thursday 21st September from 6.30pm until 8pm, and an adoption drop-in session in Brighton on Friday 22nd September from 11am until 2pm.  To find out about these events, or for more information about PACT and its adoption services, please visit www.pactcharity.org, call 0300 456 4800 or email enquiries@pactcharity.org 

  • 27th July 2017

    Brighton adopters needed!

    PACT is calling for prospective parents in the Brighton area to find out more about adoption. PACT offers outstanding adoption services to families across the South East, last year placing 87 children with 62 families. There are currently more than 2,000 children waiting to be adopted in England. PACT is particularly looking for couples or single people, including those from the LGBT community, who can consider adopting children over four years old, sibling groups of two or more children, children with a black or minority ethnic background and those who may have physical or learning disabilities. The agency’s office in central Brighton is holding a series of events this month and next to encourage people in the area to consider adoption. As part of this awareness-raising PACT will be taking part in Brighton Pride on Saturday 5 August and will have a stand in Preston Park from midday where social workers will be on hand to chat to anyone interested in adoption. The Brighton office, which specialises in LGBT adoption but also welcomes heterosexual adopters, is also holding an information evening in Brighton on Wednesday 23 August from 6.30pm until 8pm at which people can find out more about the process of adoption and hear from people who have adopted through PACT.People can also find out more at an adoption drop-in session on Friday 22 September from 11am until 2pm at the Community Base, 113 Queens Road, Brighton.Mark and Laurence adopted a sister and brother, aged eight and six, through PACT last year. The couple, who live in the Brighton area, said they chose to adopt through PACT because of the support and training it offered before, during and post adoption and because of the agency’s experience of placing children with LGBT adopters. They said: “Life with our children is fantastic! After 18 months, as we look back on past photographs and videos it is amazing to see the progress that they have made in all aspects of their lives and how we as a couple have strengthened our relationship together. We no longer have quiet lives, lie-ins or nights out clubbing, but this has been replaced with our beautiful family and all the experiences that go with that, such as attending their nativities, Christmas celebrations, family holidays, putting teeth out for the tooth fairy, hosting birthday parties and many more.“We couldn’t imagine our lives without children now and it all started with an initial enquiry with PACT. This has been an amazing journey for us and if it is something that you are considering, when the time is right for you, PACT will be there to hold your hand throughout every stage.”PACT’s Chief Executive Jan Fishwick added: “The events coming up in Brighton are an ideal opportunity for anyone in the area who is thinking about adoption as a way of starting or extending their family to find out more. Our teams at these events will be very happy to answer any questions you have and to explain the services and support that we can offer to people who would like to give a secure and loving home to a child in care.”For further information, or to book a place at the information evening, call 0300 456 4800 (lines are open 10am-3pm Monday to Friday) or email enquiries@pactcharity.org. You can also find out more about PACT, and download a guide to adoption, at www.pactcharity.org  

  • 30th June 2017

    Alana House visited by award-winning fashion designer Patrick Grant

    AWARD-winning British fashion designer Patrick Grant visited Alana House women’s community project in Reading on Friday (30 June) to meet women who have been learning to sew.The women have been involved in an initiative called Out Of The Box making craft items for sale, which has been running at Alana House in partnership with offender support organisation New Leaf, for almost a year. Many of the women taking part have also been learning to sew at another weekly session offered at Alana House, a women’s community project run by Parents And Children Together (PACT) to support vulnerable women.Patrick, also known for his starring role as a judge of BBC2 show The Great British Sewing Bee, chatted with some of the women and was shown items they had made to sell, which include clothing, jewellery, tote bags, knitted items and woodwork. Patrick was visiting in his role as Founder and Creative Director of social enterprise Community Clothing, which supports skills development, job creation and regeneration in communities that rely on the textile and garment manufacturing industries. He was accompanied by Community Clothing CEO Lucy Clayton.He was interested in New Leaf and Alana House’s work with vulnerable women and was keen to meet some of the women who had been taking part in the Out Of The Box project. He was also shown around Alana House and told about the wider work of the centre. Last year 190 women accessed Alana House in Reading and its satellite service in West Berkshire, for groups, courses, drop-in sessions and one-to-one support. Patrick said: “Community Clothing aims to make really good quality, affordable clothing in British factories during their quiet periods. Fashion is really seasonal and factories have loads of spare capacity. This is a way to bring prosperity back to UK factories.“We are also trying to do everything we can to encourage people back into clothing-making and there are opportunities for some of the work to be done outside factories. We are investigating anywhere where people are sewing where there may be opportunities to make it a commercial, viable thing and people can make a living out of it.”Natausha van Vliet, Director of Business Development at PACT, said: “This was a lovely opportunity for the women who have worked so hard on this project to be inspired and enthused by meeting Patrick. It was also a fantastic opportunity to showcase to him the fantastic work that is going on at Alana House and the many ways in which we are empowering vulnerable women into making positive life changes by helping them to develop new skills and build their esteem and self-confidence.”Alana House, which celebrated its seventh birthday earlier this year, was awarded The Howard League for Penal Reform Award in the Community Programme for Women category in 2014.To find out more about Alana House and its programme of activities, which include weekly drop-in sessions, see www.alanahouse.org or call 0118 9217640. 

  • 16th June 2017

    OBE for PACT’s Chief Executive Jan Fishwick

    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 world 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.”  

  • 09th June 2017

    PACT calls for caring professionals to consider adoption

    PACT is appealing for people from caring professions to consider adoption. PACT offers outstanding adoption services to families across the South East. Last year it placed 87 children with 62 families through its adoption services. There are currently more than 2,000 children waiting to be adopted in England. PACT is particularly looking for couples or single people, including those from the LGBT community, who can consider adopting children over four years old, sibling groups of two or more children, children with a black or minority ethnic background and children who may have physical or learning disabilities. The agency would really like to hear from anyone from the caring professions such as nurses, teachers, police officers, childminders and those in the care sector, as given their professional experience and skills they typically make strong adopters, and they are particularly valued by local authorities looking to place a child. Nicola* and her husband Mike* adopted Amelia*, who has cerebal palsy, when she was 18 months old through PACT.Nicola, who is a teacher, said she definitely felt that her professional experience had helped her become an adoptive parent.“Having worked with children for many years, from a variety of backgrounds, I had a good understanding of children’s needs and child development. I had also seen so many children change in such a positive way when they get the right teacher. I felt I could relate this to parenting.“I had a good understanding of the need to have firm, fair boundaries for children and I understood children thrive with clear routine that is based on love and respect. Working in a school helped me develop the patience I needed to help our child through the tough times, and to understand all children can change for the better when they know you believe in them.”Nicola added that her understanding and awareness of the systems that surround children, especially children with additional needs, had also really helped when they needed to get support for Amelia. Neil and his partner, Matt, adopted three-year-old Joe, who has autism, through PACT in 2016.Neil, who has worked in social care for 17 years and currently works for a charity, said: “I think throughout the adoption process itself and then once your child is placed with you, you do need to draw on all your life experiences – both personally and professionally – to help relate and empathise with your child. Working in a social care setting for so long has really helped me become a parent, particularly to a child who has additional needs. Many of the skills I have gained in my career I am now using to support my son as he develops, and to ensure he continues to feels confident and secure with us.”Claire and her husband Harry adopted three siblings, all under four years old, through PACT in 2016.Claire has been a police officer for 13 years, specialising as a detective, and before adopting her children worked on a major crime team dealing with historic child sexual exploitation. In this role she worked alongside adult and child social services to support vulnerable young ladies, many who had been in care themselves and who had had a very traumatic childhood, including some whose own children had been removed from their care. She said this role, and other cases she dealt with as an officer, had given her a real insight into family life when things go wrong, and how children can be at risk. “I dealt with many situations that would open your eyes to the world and understand how adoption has become the only option for a child.”Claire said her professional experience and training had really helped her deal with the initial stages of the adoption process, but also in understanding how important it was for children to have a stable and secure start to their life. She urged anyone considering adoption to find out more, adding: “It is not for everyone but might actually be for you and the results will surprise you. Children deserve to have a safe, loving home and can give you and your family so much. “We have had our lives enriched by three fabulous babies and our entire network of friends and family have learnt and embraced adoption through our journey. Parenting is tricky for everyone, don’t be scared, enjoy it!”PACT Chief Executive Jan Fishwick said: “While there is no such thing as a typical adopter we know from our many years’ experience of matching children with forever families that people who work in a caring profession very often have the experience, skills and qualities to make excellent adopters. “Having said that we are always very happy to hear from anyone, whatever their profession, who can offer love, stability and security to a child who needs this – this is always what matters most. At PACT we work with adopters who are single and married, people who have birth or step-children, or don’t have children, as well as those of different sexualities and religions.” PACT holds regular information events where anyone considering adoption can find out more about what’s involved. Events coming up include sessions in London on Thursday 15th June, in Reading on Tuesday 20th June and Brighton on Tuesday 27th June, all starting at 6.30pm. These events are free to attend but please do book a place in advance by calling 0300 456 4800.You can also find out more about PACT and its adoption services at www.pactcharity.org  

  • 31st May 2017

    PACT celebrates the work of its dedicated volunteers

    FAMILY support charity Parents And Children Together (PACT) is celebrating the work of its dedicated volunteers and the difference they make to the services it provides as part of annual Volunteers’ Week.PACT works with families across the south east through its adoption services, award-winning therapeutic support and community projects Alana House women’s centre and Bounce Back 4 Kids (BB4K), which supports children affected by domestic abuse.Over the last year the charity’s team of around 25 volunteers gave 4,524 hours of time to help PACT provide its vital services. These include people who help out on reception, or carry out admin and research tasks for different teams. Volunteers also help facilitate BB4K courses and drop-in sessions at Alana House as well as providing counselling at the centre and running stretch and relax exercise classes, mindfulness and sewing sessions. Some volunteers have gone on to take up a paid role with PACT, and two were last year nominated for an Oxfordshire Community and Voluntary Action (OCVA) award.PACT also has close links with local universities, including Oxford Brookes, Reading University and the University of East London, and arranges placements for social worker and play therapy students.Chief Executive Jan Fishwick said: “We are incredibly appreciative of the efforts of all our volunteers, who really are a crucial part of the PACT team. The difference they have made to our work is amazing, particularly in our community projects where volunteers play such an important role helping out at Alana House sessions and we would struggle to run our BB4K courses without the support of our volunteers.“Not only do our volunteers give us the gift of their time, they bring diversity and experience to our organisation and often a fresh perspective to how we work. They are also a great link back into the communities in which we are working. “I’d like to say a huge thank you to all our volunteers who so generously share their time, talents and enthusiasm to the benefit of our teams and the families we work with.” Volunteer Manager Sam Ward said volunteering with PACT was a great way for people to gain new experience and skills, to enhance their CV or to support the charity and those that benefit from its services.She added: “We are always happy to hear from anyone who is interested in volunteering with us. Please also do get in touch if you have specific skills or could share something with PACT which isn’t advertised on our website – we can always match you up with a role if you are interested in helping out.”Volunteers are given full training and support, and any travel expenses are reimbursed. John Southern started volunteering with PACT in 2014 after he retired. He is the Receptionist at the agency’s Reading office one day a week, and also assists with various admin and research tasks for different teams.He said he loves the routine and structure that volunteering at PACT has given him. “The biggest problem with retirement is suddenly you have got nothing to do! Up till that point your life has been organised and structured with school, university and then working, and you build your personal life around that. Suddenly for the first time you have to take responsibility for organising your own life.”John, who also volunteers for other organisations, said he enjoys the variety of tasks he is asked to do at PACT and the people he works with.“When I was first looking for voluntary work I chose PACT because I really liked the idea of coming into the centre of Reading once a week and working in a busy office. Again what I hadn’t realised until I retired was that through the week during the day there are really not many people about in the suburbs, and it can be quite isolating.“Coming here gives my week structure and I enjoy the interaction with people. It’s a lovely place to volunteer – everyone is so friendly and welcoming, and appreciative of the help I can give them. I would definitely recommend it.”Volunteers' Week runs from 1st to 7th June and is an annual national campaign to thank volunteers for their help and to celebrate the difference they make. Next month all PACT’s volunteers and their families will be invited to a picnic, held in conjunction with the National Apprenticeship Scheme, which organise the event, to say thank you for their contribution over the year. Find out more about current volunteering vacancies at PACT or for more information email PACT_HR@pactcharity.org For more information about Volunteers’ Week. 

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