Recent News

  • 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. 

  • 22nd May 2017

    PACT appeals for people who could foster to adopt

    Parents And Children Together (PACT) is raising awareness of an initiative it offers that enables babies and young children to be fostered by people who want to adopt them. PACT, which supports families across the South East through adoption, award-winning therapeutic support and community projects, is keen to hear from people interested in its Foster for Adoption scheme.  This initiative enables babies and young children to be placed with potential adopters under a temporary fostering arrangement while decisions are made through the family court process about the child’s future. Foster for Adoption arrangements aim to give stability and continuity of care as early as possible to children who are very likely to be adopted. These children, who social workers believe are at least 80 per cent likely to need adopting, are placed with foster carers who are also approved as adopters. If the court agrees that the child should be adopted, the placement becomes an adoption placement.  Michelle* and Phil* are caring for Charlie*, who is just over two, through PACT’s Foster for Adoption initiative. Charlie was 21 months old when he was placed with the couple, who are now applying to adopt him.  The couple, who also have a five-year-old adopted daughter Mia*, first heard about the scheme while they were being matched with their daughter, and when they decided to adopt another child they were keen to try it.  Michelle said: “We thought this seemed like a good idea considering the aim was to place children as soon as possible to minimise the amount of moves they might have to make. The main reason we decided to go down this route was that we saw it as a chance to have a child placed with us sooner, so they would be younger, and also we thought being dual approved carers (approved to both foster and adopt) would make us more attractive to local authorities and hopefully increase the number of profiles we could consider.” Earl and Rebecca started caring for Emily* when she was six-and-a-half months old through PACT’s Foster for Adoption programme and went on to adopt her. Earl and Rebecca were asked to consider Foster for Adoption for Emily as she is a younger sister to their two other adopted children.  Earl said they had found the process to be extremely straightforward.  “We have worked with PACT with our previous adoption so we already knew how it would probably go. It has actually been smoother than expected. PACT has always been a joy to work with and we have felt supported through the process each step of the way.” Earl said the real benefit they had experienced of Foster for Adoption was the fact that Emily could be with them sooner. He added: “I think it is a great idea. It is so much better for the child to be in a long-term fostering to adopt situation than simply fostering with no end in sight.” PACT Chief Executive Jan Fishwick said: “We are very keen to recruit more people who are willing to consider Foster for Adoption, as potentially this allows a permanent home to be found for a child as early as possible, which is obviously hugely beneficial. For children this means they benefit from stability and continuity of care from the earliest possible stage in their lives, and for parents it can mean they get a very young baby placed with them enabling them to get to know them sooner and share their earliest memories.  “However, we know that this route into adoption might not be for everyone, given the significant uncertainties involved. What we can offer is that anyone who does embark on this process with PACT will be supported throughout by our sensitive and experienced social workers. If you are at all interested in finding out more about Foster for Adoption or have any questions please do get in touch.” For more information about Foster for Adoption please call 0300 456 4800 (lines are open from 10am until 3pm Monday to Friday) or email enquiries@pactcharity.org 

  • 15th May 2017

    PACT appeals for people who can provide a loving home to a child with a disability

    Parents And Children Together (PACT) is calling for people to consider adopting a child with additional needs. PACT offers outstanding Ofsted rated 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 individuals, including those from the LGBT community, 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. “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.”  Nicola said their decision to be matched with a disabled child was followed by hours of worrying about whether they had the capacity to raise a child who would spend her life in a wheelchair. But she said that as soon as they met Amelia they knew it was the right decision. “As I walked through the corridor of the foster home I was so worried we could not give her the life she deserved and worried her needs would negatively impact our son’s life.  “But then we turned into the doorway and saw her for the first time. She was sitting up and she turned her head to us. She immediately gave us the biggest, heart-melting smile, reaching her hand up to us. All the preparation and photos meant she recognised us immediately. In that minute, I knew it would all be okay. I knew we could love her and give her what she needed. Suddenly her disability became assigned to paper, and she became a real, living child.” Nicola said the first few months were tough as Amelia settled into her new family and they got used to a child with a physical disability. She said the family received amazing support from PACT during this time. Nicola said Amelia is now much more settled, is making great progress emotionally and physically, and shares a very special bond with her older brother. She said the process of adoption had been hard but the outcome was so much better than she could have imagined. Nicola added: “She may be disabled and she may be adopted, but that is all just one part of who she is. She is my family and we are hers. There is no longer a distinction between her and us. She makes me angry, she makes us sad, she makes us laugh, and she brings endless joy. It is a natural relationship and I frequently forget we do not share a genetic link. “We are four and we are happy. Good days, bad days, sunny and rainy days. We will be together.” PACT Chief Executive Jan Fishwick said: “At PACT we are dedicated to finding forever homes for children who can be harder to place and who often have the longest wait for a permanent family. We are therefore always keen to hear from anyone who could provide a loving home to a child who has additional needs, including a physical or learning disability. We can also offer specialist support to families who do adopt a child with additional needs through our Strengthening Families Team and award-winning Family And Children Therapeutic Support (FACTS) service.” To find out more about adopting with PACT visit www.pactcharity.org or call 0300 456 4800. 

  • 02nd May 2017

    PACT rated outstanding by Ofsted for a second time

    Ofsted outstanding

    ADOPTION services run by Parents And Children Together (PACT) have again been rated as outstanding following an Ofsted inspection in March.PACT’s Chief Executive Jan Fishwick said she was “absolutely delighted” that the agency had retained the outstanding rating it was first awarded in 2014.She added: “I’m thrilled that Ofsted has recognised all our achievements as an adoption agency by again awarding PACT the top grade. It is incredibly hard to gain an outstanding rating and to retain this for a second inspection is even more of an achievement. I am immensely proud of all our staff and volunteers who each contribute to our excellent organisation and have worked together as a team to achieve such an amazing result.”PACT is one of the UK’s leading independent adoption agencies, placing 87 children with 62 families through its adoption services last year.The inspection report says that PACT provides an “impressive service” to children and their adoptive families and that “Its main strengths are of note and worthy of dissemination across the sector”.“Children placed with PACT adopters are deemed the ‘harder to place’ children, who may have been waiting for some time for a family. When considering the complexity of children’s needs, placements are highly successful with a relatively low pre-order disruption rate. Children, despite their complex needs, live in safe, stable and secure homes with parents who are totally committed to supporting them throughout their lives.“The experience and progress most of these children make is impressive and demonstrates the agency’s exceptional quality of practice.”It adds: “The agency recognises that successful linking, matching and introductions are key to the success of placements. The excellent arrangements for family finding ensure that children across the country, including brothers and sisters and harder to place children, may secure adoptive placements with PACT adopters. The efforts put into family finding are highly effective.”The report concludes that “prospective adopters are extremely well equipped to deal with the emotional turmoil that is often displayed through their child’s behaviour.”“Children are supported to come to terms with their disruptive backgrounds and the losses they have experienced in their lives.”The report also emphasises the support that PACT offers to its adoptive families, which ranges from a 24-hour duty service that families can access in an emergency to family fun days held for adoptive families to get together. It highlights the work that experienced adopters, known as Adopter Champions, undertake for PACT, as well as the more focused therapeutic support which is available through its Strengthening Families Team and FACTS service.“The arrangements for supporting placements are of the highest quality and there is an impressive range of informal and formal support services available on an individual and group basis. Support has stabilised placements and prevented family breakdowns.”The inspector also praises PACT’s inclusive recruitment criteria and how people enquiring about adoption feel valued and welcomed. She describes how adopters who have used the agency have recommended its services to other people interested in adoption.Shirley Elliott, PACT’s Head of Adoption, said: “I’m really pleased that Ofsted praised us for these aspects of our work. I would like to thank everyone who has worked so hard to ensure that we are consistently delivering an outstanding quality of service to all adoptive families.”Jan Fishwick added: “This is a great success and I am confident that we have made a difference to the lives of many children and families. I would like to thank everyone across the wider PACT community for their continued support as we move forward.”The full inspection report can be viewed on our website at http://pactcharity.org/about-us/ofsted-inspection

  • 12th April 2017

    PACT releases short film to appeal for a forever family for five-year-old Robert

    PACT has created a short animated film to help its search for a forever family for a lively and affectionate five-year-old boy, who has been in foster care since he was a baby.PACT is looking for a home for Robert* through its targeted family finding service which it provides to local authorities for children who have been waiting a long time to be adopted.PACT’s Adoption Team Manager, Louise Hartley said: "Robert is desperate for his own forever family, and the security and stability that adoptive parents could offer". Louise added: “Robert has so much to offer a family – he is a friendly, outgoing, active and lively five-year-old boy, who is never happier than when he’s outside riding his scooter or playing in the park. “He has a natural love for music and rhythm, often remembering songs weeks after he has heard them. He likes to play with trains, cars, puzzles, computer games and enjoys trips out in the car. He loves going to his weekly football training sessions with his peers. “Robert is a particularly rewarding child to care for as he is so affectionate and much prefers other people’s company to being on his own. He also has a great sense of humour and a really infectious laugh. “The film we have made about Robert highlights that he has had to move to five different carers and we desperately want him to be settled in a family that he can call his own. We would encourage anyone who watches the film to share it with their friends and on social media. A forever family for Robert is out there somewhere!” Robert, who is of white UK and dual heritage (his mother is white UK/black Caribbean), is on the autistic spectrum and has received support for his delayed speech and is making excellent progress. He really enjoys school where he is receiving one-to-one support in a mainstream class and has made many friends. Jan Fishwick, Chief Executive of PACT, added: “We are passionate about finding the very best families for children who have been waiting the longest to be adopted. Robert has had a particularly unsettled start and we are determined to find him the forever home he desperately wants and deserves. Please do get in touch with us if you think you can help or would like to find out more.”Robert has received a comprehensive assessment by the South London and Maudsley Hospital Centre for Children, and will receive specific therapeutic support tailored to any needs identified. PACT will also provide ongoing support for Robert and his adoptive family, via its Strengthening Families Team and award-winning therapeutic support service FACTS. [[{"type":"media","view_mode":"media_large","fid":"1857","attributes":{"alt":"","class":"media-image","typeof":"foaf:Image"}}]] To find out more about Robert please visit www.pactcharity.org/robert or contact Louise Hartley by emailing Louise.Hartley@pactcharity.org or calling 07587 552399.  

  • 07th April 2017

    PACT holds special event to inspire prospective adopters

    PACT is inviting anyone considering adoption to attend a special event where they can hear the inspirational stories of people who have already adopted. The adoption charity is holding the event in Reading on Saturday 6th May at which prospective adopters can put their questions to a panel of PACT adopters and experts.  There will also be opportunities for people to talk individually with experienced adopters and 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 91 children with 58 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, those with BME heritage or who have additional needs, and sibling groups of two or more children.  PACT is also keen to hear from people interested in Fostering for Adoption. This is a scheme where babies and young children are placed with adopters under a temporary fostering arrangement while decisions are made through the family court process about the child’s future. 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. The panel of adopters, which includes a couple who adopted three siblings and a woman who adopted on her own in her 50s, will introduce themselves and there will then be around an hour of questions and answers.  PACT Chief Executive Jan Fishwick said: “Making the decision to adopt is a truly life-changing one, which no-one makes without a lot of careful consideration. From our experience we know that one of the best ways for anyone thinking about adoption to find out more is to talk with people who have already adopted. This event is an ideal opportunity for people to speak to some of our inspirational families and our expert staff about how people can adopt through PACT. If you are at all interested in adoption please do come along to find out more and see if this is right for you.” The event is free to attend, but people will need to book a place by calling 0300 456 4800 or emailing enquiries@pactcharity.org.  

  • 31st March 2017

    Alana House stages ‘Chaos and Calm’ photography exhibition

    WOMEN from the award-winning Alana House community project in Reading staged an exhibition of photos as part of an innovative photography project.The exhibition, called Chaos and Calm, was the culmination of a two-month therapeutic project exploring photography and the way photos can make you feel.The Alana House women’s centre, which is run by Parents And Children Together (PACT), uses a holistic approach to support vulnerable women by empowering them to take control of their lives, make informed decisions and improve their life chances. In 2016, 190 women accessed Alana House in Reading and its satellite service in West Berkshire, for groups, courses, drop-ins and one-to-one support.Eight women took part in the Photovoice project, taking photographs to convey their experiences.The project was supported and funded by a High Sherriff grant, in conjunction with the office of the Police and Crime Commissioner. It was also supported by The University of Leicester and The Howard League for Penal Reform.Victoria Fishburn, High Sherriff of Berkshire, attended the exhibition and presented certificates to all those women who had taken part.PACT staff and supporters also attended, and were asked to make comments on the photos on display. This feedback will be used by the University of Leicester as part of further research into how people respond and react to photography.One of the women who took part Shona Tabone said:  “I am looking to get into photography for work. This has been the best thing I’ve done for years.” Shona is now embarking on a photography project evidencing the change in community gardens by The Hexagon.Another participant said: “Alana House brought us together, the camera helped us talk and as we opened the shutter we opened our creativity, imagination and communication to find calm within the chaos.”Jan Fishwick, Chief Executive of PACT, said: “The exhibition was a fantastic conclusion to an inspiring project. Alana House is continuously striving to empower vulnerable women into making positive life changes by helping them to develop new skills and boosting their self-esteem. The Photovoice project is a great example of this in action. Congratulations to all who took part, and my thanks to those who supported it.”In 2014 Alana House was awarded The Howard League for Penal Reform Award in the Community Programme for Women category, acknowledging the positive impact it has on the women it supports and their wider communities.Next month Alana House will be celebrating its seventh birthday with a party for its users, staff, volunteers and supporters.PACT, which supports families across the South East through adoption and award-winning therapeutic support, also runs a second community project, Bounce Back 4 Kids which supports families affected by domestic abuse.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.

  • 23rd March 2017

    Happy Mother’s Day from PACT

    MOTHER’S Day on 26 March will be extra special for 57 new mums who have adopted children through Parents And Children Together in the last year.The charity, which supports families across the south east and beyond through adoption, award-winning therapeutic support and community projects, placed 81 children with 57 mums over the last year.There are currently more than 2,000 children waiting to be adopted in England.PACT is particularly looking for families who can consider adopting children over four years old, with BME heritage or who have additional needs as well as sibling groups of two or more children.Steph became a mum to seven-year-old Caitlin in 2012 when she and her husband Nick adopted her through PACT. Caitlin had been in foster care since she was three and Steph recalls how excited she was to meet her new parents for the first time, calling out “you’re my new mummy!”.Steph said: “We had made the assumption that she would be nervous and reserved like us, but she wasn’t, she wanted a hug and immediately wanted her present, for us to see her cakes that she had helped make and to sit on my lap! We hadn’t considered that Caitlin was excited because at last she was going to get a family of her own and a chance for a new life.”She added: “Every adopter has different experiences of the bonding process. Mine was instant. Within days of Caitlin coming home our bond was set in stone, we got each other and we understood each other.”Steph and Nick, whose 13-year-old son from his previous marriage lived with them, chose to adopt as they wanted to have another child but Steph was unable to do this naturally following cancer treatment.They were both very clear from the start that they wanted to adopt an older child.Steph said: “The joy of having an older child is that they can talk to you and tell you how they are feeling. We feel that it made those initial meetings and her first few months with us easier to handle as she was able to express herself.”She added: “Our experience of adopting Caitlin was challenging and exciting. We have never regretted our decision to adopt her and we love her unconditionally. We can’t imagine life without her. We have had challenging times when we have been awake at night discussing our little girl and working out how to deal with the latest concern, but I don’t think we are any different to any other parent in that sense.”Jan Fishwick, Chief Executive of PACT, said: “I would like to wish a very happy Mother’s Day to all those mums celebrating this special day after adopting children.“But there are still many children in need of a mum, many of them are aged four or over, in a sibling group or have additional needs. I would encourage anyone who feels they can offer a secure and loving home to a child in care to get in touch with us, and find out how we can help them do that.”To find out more about adopting with PACT visit www.pactcharity.org/adoption or call 0300 456 4800. 

  • 20th March 2017

    Lunch for PACT adopters 23rd March 2017

    PACT is being visited by Ofsted Inspectors for a week beginning on Monday 20th March 2017. PACT would like to invite adopters to a lunch to meet with the inspectors on Thursday 23rd March 11.30am - 12.30pm.If you'd like to attend or would like some more information please contact Shirley Elliott, Head of Adoption - Shirley.Elliott@pactcharity.org.

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