Recent News

  • 07th November 2019

    New chairman for PACT

    Pactcharity chairman trustee board

    This Trustees Week, Parents And Children Together (PACT) is pleased to announce that the charity has a new Chair of Trustees.Wes Cuell has joined the Executive Board and takes over from Jim Brown as Chairman.Wes, a qualified social worker, has more than 40 years’ experience of working in social care, primarily in services for children and young people. He chairs the Hertfordshire Adoption Panel and, having been adopted as a child, has a lifelong interest in and commitment to the role of adoption in transforming the lives of children.He said: "I am delighted at the opportunity to join the team at PACT, an agency that enables me to develop my commitment to adoption and family support and which reflects the very standards of practice that I have always aspired to."Outgoing chairman Jim Brown led PACT's Executive Board for six years. PACT Chief Executive Jan Fishwick OBE said: “We are so grateful to Jim for the many years of unfailing support and excellent leadership he has given to PACT. He has chaired our executive board through both challenging and successful times and we thank him for his wisdom, his humour and, above all, his belief in the cause.”“We are delighted to welcome Wes as our new chairman. Wes has such a wealth of experience in the social care sector and we look forward to benefiting from his knowledge and his passion for making a difference to the lives of vulnerable children and families.”Pictured (l-r) are Jim Brown and Wes Cuell

  • 02nd October 2019

    National Adoption Week 2019

    National Adoption Week 2019 logo

    Parents And Children Together is joining forces with adoption agencies across the UK for National Adoption Week 2019 to help find more permanent families for children waiting in care.This year's National Adoption Week campaign takes place 14-20 October and encourages people to spread the word about the need for more adoptive families.PACT, which offers outstanding Ofsted-rated adoption services to families across the South East, and award-winning adoption support for life, 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.There are 2,750* children currently waiting to be adopted, with 2,020 of these children in groups that typically wait longer for a family. These are children aged five or older, of black or minority ethnic heritage, have complex health needs or a disability or part of a sibling group.PACT's Adoption Service Director Lorna Hunt said: "This National Adoption Week PACT is urging people to do what they can to raise awareness of adoption and the need for forever families for the thousands of children waiting in care."Many people think that there are lots of barriers preventing them from adopting but in reality there are only a few restrictions. For example you have to be aged over 21, but there is no upper age limit, and you have to be legally resident in the UK for a minimum of 12 months."At PACT we welcome people from all walks of life - couples or single people, those who already have children and those who don't. We particularly welcome people of black or minority ethnic heritage, from faith communities and LGBT people."I would urge anyone thinking about adoption to download our free Guide to Adoption or book to come to one of our monthly Information Events in Reading, Oxford, London and West Sussex. And if you are not thinking about adoption for yourself, please help us to spread the word to others who might be."PACT is holding Information Events on the following dates and locations:Oxford: Tuesday 15th October, 6.30-8pmReading: Wednesday 16th October, 6.30-8pmLondon Q&A Panel: Saturday 19th October, 10am-12.30pm Southwick, Sussex: Tuesday 22nd October, 6.30-8pmTo attend an event, or if you have any questions about adoption, please call PACT's Enquiries Team on 0300 456 4800. Lines are open from 10am-5pm on Monday, Wednesday and Friday, 10am-8pm on Tuesday and Thursday, and 10am-1pm on Saturday. Alternatively you can email enquiries@pactcharity.org or request a callback at www.pactcharity.org.*as of 31 December 2018, in England.

  • 04th September 2019

    Photography exhibition for Alana House women

    Alana House photovoice photography exhibition MERL

    WOMEN from the award-winning Alana House community project in Reading are taking part in an exhibition as part of an innovative photography project.The exhibition, called My View, is a participatory photography and storytelling project in which women from Alana House were supported to use photography to reflect on their perspectives on identity and community. The exhibition is being hosted by the Museum of English Rural Life (MERL) on Redlands Road, Reading, until Monday 23rd September.Eight women took part in the Photovoice project at Alana House. It was facilitated by Kate Watson and funded through an award of £15K from Reading Borough Council’s ‘Reading, Place of Culture’ scheme and Cultural Commissioning Programme.Two groups of women took part in weekly workshops exploring technical photography skills, visual literacy, portraiture and storytelling. The exhibition is the culmination of their efforts.Alana House is a community project run by Parents And Children Together (PACT) which uses a holistic approach to support women with complex needs 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.All of the women who took part in the project said they gained confidence and positive experiences as a result of taking part in the course. Here is some of their feedback.Anne: “It’s a fantastic course and Kate was very inspiring and encouraging to us. It’s been a huge achievement to take part in this venture.”Sam: “PhotoVoice has given me more confidence in taking pictures. I enjoyed going out and about with the camera and meeting new people.”Carol: “I found PhotoVoice very enjoyable, learning about the cameras and the meanings behind the photos.”Zahra: ‘I really enjoyed the course and would like to continue developing my photography skills.”Clare: “‘PhotoVoice was good. I hope to take more photos in the future now I know how to use the camera.”Jan Fishwick, Chief Executive of PACT, said: “This project and the wonderful exhibition of the resulting photographs has been inspiring.“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.”Cllr Karen Rowland, Reading’s Lead Member for Culture, Heritage and Recreation, said: “I’m really looking forward to seeing the ‘My View’ exhibition and to experience the impact our cultural funding has had on the lives of the women who have taken part in this innovative and engaging photography project.“I’d also like to extend our thanks to the generous support from National Lottery players and the National Lottery Heritage Fund, Arts Council England and Historic England, which has enabled projects like this to take place.”Alana House and The MERL have worked in partnership since 2015 on a series of different collaborative projects. Photovoice will be the latest exhibition to be featured in The MERL’s Community Case.Phillippa Heath, Learning and Engagement Manager at The MERL, said: “We are delighted to be showcasing Photovoice here at The MERL as part of our series of community displays.“The museum’s collections tell us so much about people’s identities and the complexity of our collective understanding of community. The women’s photography undoubtedly adds many interesting personal perspectives and further insights into this fascinating theme”.Alana House has twice been 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.Last month Alana House celebrated its ninth birthday and also launched a community café – a project where the women have been trained in barista and baking skills and taking the lead on running the café each week.PACT, which supports families across the South East through adoption and award-winning adoption 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.About PhotoVoice:PhotoVoice is a UK-based charity that believes in a world where everyone has the opportunity to represent themselves and tell their own story. PhotoVoice uses participatory photography and digital storytelling to build the skills of under-represented communities and individuals, creating new tools of self-advocacy and communication.www.photovoice.orgAbout the project funding:The funding for this project is part of Reading Borough Council’s ‘Reading, Place of Culture’ scheme, supported by the Great Place Scheme, which is funded thanks to National Lottery players and the Heritage Lottery Fund, Arts Council England and Historic England. This project was funded as part of the Cultural Commissioning Programme in 2018.  To find out more visit http://readingplaceofculture.org/greatplacesAbout The MERL:The Museum of English Rural Life is owned and managed by the University of Reading. It uses its diverse and surprising collection to explore how the skills and experiences of farmers, craftspeople and rural communities, past and present, can help shape our lives now and into the future.The community case in The MERL is open Monday – Friday 9am to 5pm, last Thursday of the month – 9am to 9pm, Saturday & Sunday – 10am to 5pm. The museum is located at 6 Redlands Road, Reading, RG1 5EX. More details can be found on The MERL’s website https://merl.reading.ac.uk/

  • 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!”