Recent News

  • 12th August 2019

    An award for PACT's digital platform The Adopter Hub

    Innovative online adoption support service The Adopter Hub, which offers families round-the-clock access to help, advice and peer support, has won a national digital award.The Adopter Hub which was launched by leading adoption charity Parents And Children Together (PACT) in response to a growing demand for more accessible support for adoptive families, was announced as the winner in the Embracing Digital category at the Charity Governance Awards 2019.The site, which aims to empower adoptive parents by enabling them to access help and support as and when they need it, features peer support via a forum and webchat, a bank of multimedia resources on everything from education to behaviour, an eLearning programme and regular webinars.Developed with a grant from the Department for Education, the service was introduced as a pilot project for a small cohort of PACT families during National Adoption Week in October 2017, and in early 2018 was opened up to all PACT adopters. It is now being offered to other agencies as a subscription service for their adoptive families, with more than 850 adoptive parents, social workers and education professionals registered to use the site.The Charity Governance Awards highlighted the fact that parents were heavily involved in the development of The Adopter Hub and praised PACT’s trustees for embracing the concept of holistic digital change, enabling The Adopter Hub to become fully embedded within an emerging digital culture within the charity. They added: “PACT has embarked on a digital strategy, with the board playing a pivotal role and continuing the evolution, identifying a digital trustee, establishing a digital advisory board and developing a digital vision.”Natausha van Vliet, Chief Operating Officer at PACT, said: “We are all absolutely thrilled to receive this award, which is great recognition that we are taking the right steps towards our digital transformation. It will be a further catalyst as we continue to explore new ways in which we can use digital technologies to develop and expand the services offered by The Adopter Hub to ensure that even more adoptive families can benefit from the tools, resources and peer adopter support it offers.”Sarah Hill, The Adopter Hub Manager, believes the two key reasons the service is proving so popular with adopters is the out-of-hours access to peer support and the opportunity to learn from professionals and other adopters via trusted multimedia content.Sarah said: “Adopters have told us that what they want, and what they find most helpful, is to talk to someone who has been through the same journey and understands what it is like to be an adoptive parent. We have a team of volunteers who are all adoptive parents who run the web chat service and are actively involved in shaping the website. They ‘get’ what adopters are going through and because of that can offer the best support – and offer it at the times adopters need it, which is often after the kids are in bed.“The other really important element is that the website contains resources and guidance which adopters know is relevant and can be trusted. Googling adoption issues brings up long lists of complex research which is confusing, and often guidance from the US which isn’t always relevant to the way our systems work. We make sure that adopters can access reliable and useful guidance at a time when they want it, in multimedia formats that are easy to engage with.”In a survey carried out to help evaluate the first year of the service, 95 per cent of people who responded said that having the option to access services outside normal working hours made them feel more confident in managing difficult situations.One adopter said: “Simply knowing the service is there when I need access, and advice or just a confidence boost to remind me I’m doing okay, and I’m not the only parent going through, what are, some unique looking behaviours, provides a huge comfort. You can tell the service is supported by other adopters who ‘get it’.”Another adopter described the service as “invaluable”, adding: “It’s made such a difference knowing there is real support out there – by having a one-stop shop when we need to know how best to tackle a situation, from people who have lived it, and totally understand our family situation.”The site is constantly being developed, with new services added to make it more interactive. Future plans include developing and enhancing the services available to adoption practitioners as well as the tools available for schools and education practitioners.Jan Fishwick OBE, Chief Executive at PACT, added: “At PACT we are committed to supporting our families through the lifetime of their adoptive journeys, and The Adopter Hub, with the fantastic peer support and ease of access it offers, is another important way in which we can do this. We really believe that The Adopter Hub has the potential to transform the way in which adoptive families are supported and this award signals that we are on the right track to do just that.”As part of the award The Adopter Hub received £5,000 prize money. PACT has also recently received a £10,000 grant from The National Lottery Community Fund to help develop The Adopter Hub’s educational work.To find out more about The Adopter Hub, and how to access its services, please email theadopterhub@pactcharity.org  

  • 27th June 2019

    Alana House launches new community cafe

    Alana House in Reading has launched a new community café to help women who attend the project to learn and practise valuable new skills.Around 50 supporters, staff and volunteers from family support charity Parents And Children Together (PACT), which runs Alana House women’s community project, attended an event on Tuesday to help launch the café and celebrate Alana House’s ninth birthday.The High Sheriff of Berkshire, Lucy Zeal, officially opened the new café and guests enjoyed coffee and cakes made by Alana House women.Alana House, which has its main base in Reading but also covers West Berkshire, Bracknell, Wokingham, Maidenhead and Windsor, supports women who find themselves at a disadvantage by empowering them to take control of their lives, make informed decisions and improve their life chances. In 2018, 225 women accessed Alana House for groups, courses, drop-ins and one-to-one support.The new community café, which will open initially on a Friday morning from 19th July for Alana House clients plus PACT staff, volunteers and invited guests, will offer home-baked cakes and treats as well as hot drinks served to a professional standard.It will give women attending the project the chance to learn barista, waitressing and food and hygiene skills and to practise these in a friendly and non-judgemental space, helping to boost their confidence and enhance their employability prospects.The project has been made possible by funding from the Ministry of Justice and support from local organisations, including Kingdom Coffee, which provided barista skills training, and IKEA, which donated a new kitchen plus furniture and accessories. A team from IKEA also spent two days at Alana House giving the drop-in area a fantastic makeoverSpeaking at the launch event, Jan Fishwick OBE, Chief Executive of PACT, said: “Alana House has always been a safe and welcoming space for women, offering support for a wide variety of needs, but the transformation that has taken place here in such a short space of time, making this room so calm and special, is truly remarkable.“Setting up a community café has been a dream of ours for many years. It brings a unique opportunity to learn and practise new skills, including health and safety, food hygiene, baking and barista skills. Impressive transformations like these don’t happen without lots of support and expertise, and I would like to thank all those many organisations who have helped us to get this off the ground.”Any local business that could offer Alana House women a work trial, shadowing experience or a job please get in touch via Alana.house@pactcharity.org or 0118 9217640.

  • 14th June 2019

    PACT trustee gets on his bike for vulnerable families

    An adoptive dad and charity trustee has completed a 170-mile cycling challenge to raise funds for vulnerable children and families. Phil Lewis, 59, of Crowthorne, cycled for three days between the three office locations of Parents And Children Together (PACT) the charity he and his wife adopted their 10-year-old son through and where Phil now volunteers as a trustee. PACT, which offers outstanding Ofsted-rated adoption services to families across the South East, is one of the leading independent adoption charities in the country. Last year the charity helped transform the lives of 93 children by finding them adoptive families. PACT also run two community projects – Alana House which supports and empowers women – and Bounce Back 4 Kids for families affected by domestic abuse. Phil started his challenge from the charity’s head office in Reading on Monday 10th June and cycled to its office in Brighton. On Tuesday 11th June he rode from Brighton to PACT’s office in Pimlico, London. Then on Wednesday 12th June he cycled from London back to Reading. Phil said: “PACT does fantastic work in supporting vulnerable children and women in the community as well as creating families through its adoption services. “PACT needs our support so it can continue to provide these essential services in bringing parents and children together. “I decided to raise money to support the team at PACT by cycling between its offices in Reading, Brighton and London, approximately 170 miles in the end. “Day 1 was interesting during the amber weather warning and pouring rain last Monday! Despite the weather, the huge hills in and out of Brighton and the London traffic, I had just two falls and two punctures, not bad for me!” PACT’s Chief Executive Jan Fishwick OBE said: “We are all so proud of Phil for taking on such a tough challenge, in dreadful weather conditions and doing it all with a smile on his face. “We are all inspired by Phil’s efforts, and we would urge anyone else who would like to take on a fundraising challenge to benefit vulnerable families to contact us.” Phil is aiming to raise £1,000 from his challenge. Supporters are welcome to visit his fundraising page at https://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/PhilipLewis9

  • 06th June 2019

    Huge thanks to our amazing volunteers!

    This week PACT has been celebrating Volunteers Week by saying a huge thank you to all our volunteers who make such a difference to our work building and strengthening families. Over the last year volunteers shared an incredible 6,646 hours of their time with PACT, helping in a range of roles from working on reception to carrying out admin for different teams. Volunteers also help run sessions and courses for our community projects, Alana House women’s centre and Bounce Back 4 Kids (BB4K), which supports children affected by domestic abuse. PACT’s Chief Executive Jan Fishwick OBE said: “We are so grateful for all the help and support our volunteers give us. The difference they make to our work is amazing and they really are a crucial part of the PACT team. I’d like to say a huge thank you to them all for so generously sharing their time, talents and enthusiasm to the benefit of our teams and the families we work with.” Here are some quotes from our amazing volunteers about what volunteering for PACT means to them: “It is so good to be a small part of such a friendly, supportive and much-valued team. I am so glad to have had the opportunity to volunteer and give a tiny bit back to the community.” "Volunteering at PACT is a great experience that has taught me several skills that I will need later on life. Everyone is so friendly and supportive and it's nice to think that what I'm doing is making a difference in the community.” “One of the biggest challenges when I retired from work was to find a continual stream of things to do which kept me thinking and doing – all too easy just to let the days slip by and get into a rut! PACT is one of the best things I do for this and I very much enjoy playing a part in a busy and professional organisation.” “Volunteering with PACT has given me so much more than simply learning new skills. It has given me a sense of belonging to a cause that it so much greater than myself. It has been a transformative experience, one that I would recommend to anyone I meet.” We are always on the look-out for new volunteers so please see www.pactcharity.org/volunteer or email volunteering@pactcharity.org if you would like to find out more.

  • 28th May 2019

    Adoption Information Event in Oxford

    Adoption charity Parents And Children Together (PACT) is now holding regular events in Oxfordshire for anyone interested in finding out more about adoption.These will take place on:Tuesday 3rd September 6.30-8pmTuesday 15th October 6.30-8pmTuesday 10th December 6.30-8pmThese events are led by a PACT social worker and will include a talk from someone who has adopted through PACT. They are an ideal opportunity for people to find out more and ask any questions.Attending the event is free but booking in advance is essential, Please contact our enquiries team on 0300 456 4800 or email enquiries@pactcharity.org to find out full event venue details.With more than 3,000 children waiting to be adopted, PACT specialises in finding secure and loving homes for priority children who often face the longest wait for their forever family.PACT welcomes couples or single people from all backgrounds as adopters, including those of black and minority ethnic heritage and from the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community.PACT provides outstanding adoption services and award-winning support for its adoptive families for life.

  • 23rd May 2019

    Mayor of Reading visits Alana House

    The Mayor of Reading visited PACT’s Alana House women's community project to get an update on its work and to hear about its future plans, which include the launch of a new community cafe project. Cllr Debs Edwards attended Alana House’s sewing group last week and chatted to some of the women taking part. She also met volunteers and staff, who talked to her about recent projects as well as the current work to refurbish the centre’s drop-in room and kitchen ahead of next month’s launch of the community cafe project. Alana House, which has its main base in Reading but also covers West Berkshire, Bracknell, Wokingham, Maidenhead and Windsor, supports vulnerable women by empowering them to take control of their lives, make informed decisions and improve their life chances. In 2018, 225 women accessed Alana House for groups, courses, drop-ins and one-to-one support. Alana House, which celebrates its ninth birthday next month, has twice won a prestigious national Howard League for Penal Reform Award, acknowledging the positive impact Alana House has on the women it supports and their wider communities. Cllr Edwards, a long-term supporter of Alana House, said she had really enjoyed her visit. She added: “It is so important that there are places like Alana House where vulnerable women can get the help and support they need to change their lives around. “It was really lovely to talk to some of the Alana House ladies and also to hear about the project’s exciting plans for the new community cafe project. I wish all involved all the very best with this new project and look forward to continuing to support Alana House going forwards.” Natausha van Vliet, Chief Operating Officer at PACT, said: “We really appreciate the support Cllr Edwards has given Alana House and it was great to welcome her back and update her on our work and future plans. It was also nice to be able to introduce her to some of the women we are currently supporting, and they really enjoyed meeting her. We hope to welcome Cllr Edwards back soon for a cup of coffee!”

  • 22nd May 2019

    Can you support our plans to launch a new domestic abuse programme for under fives?

    PACT’s Bounce Back 4 Kids (BB4K) programme for primary school-aged children has changed the lives of many children and helped them come to terms with domestic abuse they have seen. There is currently no provision for younger children but we know there is a great need; for that reason we have developed our own thorough and age appropriate 12 week-programme for children aged five and under. To help us get this off the ground fundraising platform The Good Exchange has kindly offered to match-fund pound for pound any donations we receive for the pilot course. Lina Artunduaga, PACT's Fundraising Manager, said: "This is a fantastic opportunity for us to deliver the pilot so we are asking for your help to maximise the benefits of this generous offer. "Every pound donated will be matched and will enable us to support children under the age of five and their parents who have been victims or witnessed domestic abuse. Any donation will make a real difference." If you can help, please make a donation here.

  • 30th April 2019

    Learn about PACT's adoption support at our next online information event

    Find out about the support PACT offers its adoptive families at our next online adoption information event on Tuesday 7th May.Join us live at www.facebook.com/pactcharity at 1pm when PACT’s Adoption Support Team Manager Julie Stolland will be talking through the wide range of support that is available for PACT families for life, which includes:• The Adopter Hub• Adopter Champions• Strengthening Families Team• Family and Childrem Therapeutic Support (FACTS)• Training Julie will also be able to answer any questions you have. If there is anything specific you would like us to cover or you would like to ask a question in advance please email us.If you can’t join us live on Tuesday, you can watch back later via this page of our website, where you can also view previous online adoption events.

  • 25th April 2019

    Five runners on a marathon mission for PACT!

    FIVE runners are limbering up to take part in the iconic London Marathon this Sunday (28th April) on behalf of adoption charity Parents And Children Together (PACT).PACT’s team of runners comprises:Kevin Virsolvy Stuart Belcher Rohan Allen Emma Pemberton Lucy Slee Each runner is aiming to raise £1,500 for PACT, which supports families across the south east through adoption, award-winning therapeutic support and community projects.PACT’s Fundraising Manager Lina Artunduaga said: “We are so grateful to these runners who have been working incredibly hard over the last few months, not only to train for a marathon, but also to raise funds for our work.“Their efforts will make such a difference to the families and children we work with. Please do sponsor them if you can – all donations are welcome and will enable us to reach out to more families who need support.“I would like to thank all our amazing runners and wish them lots of luck for Sunday!”If you would like to support PACT’s work, how about signing up for our Marathon in May challenge, in which you get 31 days to complete 26.2 miles. PACT also has charity places available for Oxford Half Marathon on Sunday 13th October – see here for full details or to register your interest.