NOTE FROM THE EDITOR
I guarantee that everyone reading this will appreciate that some things slide when a move is imminent, and this together with the World Cup has delayed our Newsletter so firstly, apologies for this but I’m sure you’ll agree that it’s better late than never.
The moving experience however positive and necessary, did bring home again for all of us the impact a move has on us as adults and served as a timely reminder of what it must feel like for children. In essence they lose their familiar bricks and mortar and everything else in their lives that held meaning for them. Sometimes it is hard to imagine what this loss truly means for them.
For children being placed with adopters it truly is a leap of faith – a step into the unknown – and we should never underestimate how long it takes them to build trust and develop faith. After all it may even be the first time ever that they have been able to truly trust their care givers.
We often talk about the honeymoon period and the range of testing behaviours we can expect to cope with. But sometimes even being well prepared leaves us struggling to make sense of things, deal with the relentlessness and begin to love the child. Never forget that you are not on your own and as a team we are here to listen, advise, support and even occasionally laugh (!) with you.
Our website (www.stdavidscs.org) is also there to be used and we are always grateful for input from fellow adopters who can offer valued experience and empathy.
The annual report captures a picture of the work and life of St. David’s Children Society over the last year.
There have been many successes:
22 children were adopted with another 17 children placed with new adoptive families.
The number of formal applications to adopt has also continued to grow. We wish all these families every success and reassure them that the Society is always here should they wish any advice or support.
However, there have been some considerable challenges also. The offices so generously provided by the Archdioceses of Cardiff are no longer available to us, resulting in the Society moving to new accommodation. Rent, rates, utilities and insurances coupled with the loss of diocesan income will add an additional £60,000 to our annual budget. In this harsh economic climate it will be a challenge to meet this new expenditure, but with your continued support we remain confident that the Society will continue to thrive.
Our new offices are centrally located, strategically placing us near the National Assembly buildings in Cathays Park. Staff are delighted with the building and in due course you will all be invited to a formal opening ceremony.
Any account of a year in the life of the Society would be incomplete without a very genuine and sincere thank you to the trustees, adoption panel members and advisors to the Society who so generously share their experience, skill and time to support us in so many different ways.
A very special thank you to all those who generously support the work of the Society through covenants, gift aid and other donations also. As a charity we rely on donations to develop and sustain our adoption support services and remain very grateful for your help.
Thank you also to our social work and admin team for their stellar efforts to achieve quality standards in our work. All have shown great professional skills and flexibility as they so generously respond to the needs of children and families.
Our mission remains as strong and vibrant as ever: To improve the quality of life for children through the provision of excellent adoption services. With your continued support we can look forward with confidence to the future.
A WELL EARNED RETIREMENT
For these past 15 years our offices at Bishop Brown House have been kept looking spic and span with the assistance of Margaret de Santi and Shelagh Hill. Now as we move to new offices (28 Park Place, CF10 3BA), Margaret and Shelagh have finally hung up their dusters for a well-earned retirement. All of us would wish to offer Margaret and Shelagh a very sincere thank you for their reliability, commitment and great support shown over so many years. During that time they must have washed hundreds of thousands of used coffee mugs as we finished meetings and rapidly escaped from the mess! We will miss your support, friendship and your forever happy dispositions and wish you a very enjoyable retirement.
THREE PEAKS CHALLENGE
On Sunday 22 August 2010 Matthew, (who was previously adopted through St. David’s) his partner Samantha and a group of friends will be travelling to Fort William, Scotland, ready to start the huge challenge of climbing the three highest mountains in the UK: Ben Nevis (Scotland), Scarfell Pike (England) and Snowdon (Wales) all within 24 hours.
They will begin by touching the sea at Fort William around 4.30 pm on Monday 23 August and will finish by touching the sea in Caernarfon around the same time on Tuesday 24 August, climbing all three mountains and driving in between. This is a huge challenge for all involved including Ben who will undertake the driving.
Matthew and Samantha are based in Swansea, and will be climbing to raise as much money as they can for St David’s Children Society.
Matthew states, “My parents and I were brought together by the Society in 1988 and a few years later, St David’s helped us again when my brother Tim joined our family. For the last 22 years the Society has remained a valued feature in mine and my brother’s life story and our family hold the organisation and its staff close to their hearts.”
”We would like to raise as much money as possible for this charity, in order to thank them for their work over the years and give them the recognition they deserve. We know the money will go towards supporting families past, present and future who are associated with this cause. “
If you would like to make a donation or sponsor Matthew and Samantha in this challenge, please click the link on the home page of our website. (www.stdavidscs.org)
Alternatively you can always post a donation to our new office address: 28 Park Place, Cardiff, CF10 3BA
We would like to wish Matthew and Samantha every success with their challenge.
From the Trustees, staff & families at St. David’s: All the best!
It is now nearly a year since I’ve been part of the St David’s team and during this time, I have been developing links with key agencies involved in Adoption in Mid and West Wales. These agencies include West Wales Adoption Team, Adoption UK, After Adoption and Powys Adoption Team.
We have been looking at developing joint support networks for adopters and their children. Part of our work has been to develop a questionnaire for adopters, asking what type of services you feel would help and support you as a family or individually. You should have received copies of the questionnaire (if not, please ring the office in Cardiff to ask for a copy) by now and we would be grateful if you could complete and return them to the office.
We really value your views and hope that by analysing your comments, we will then be able to channel our energy and resources towards further meeting your needs.
Part of looking at developing services and a possible support network of and for adopters in Mid and West Wales was the Family Fun day arranged at the Waun Fawr Community Centre in Aberystwyth on July 3rd. St David’s, West Wales Adoption Team, After Adoption, Adoption UK and Powys Adoption Team all contributed to the organisation of the event, which was a resounding success. Thanks to Mr BoBo for providing entertainment.
Sera A Llewelyn.
Mae’n flwyddyn bron ers i mi ddod yn rhan o dim Dewi Sant ac yn ystod y cyfnod hwn, ‘rwyf wedi bod yn datblygu cysylltiadau eraill gyda chyrff sy’n ymwneud a mabwysiadu yng Nghanolbarth a Gorllewin Cymru. Mae’r asiantaethau yma’n cynwys tim Mabwysiadu Gorllewin Cymru, Adoption UK, After Adoption a Thim Mabwysiadu Powys. ‘Rydym wedi bod yn edrych ar ddatblygu rhwydwaith o gefnogaeth i deuluoedd mabwysiadu. Rhan o’n gwaith oedd datblygu’r holiadur i fabwysiadwyr, gan ofyn pa fath o wasanaethau yr oeddech yn deimlo fyddai’n gymorth ac yn gefnogaeth i chi fel teulu neu i unigolion. Fe ddylech fod wedi derbyn copiau erbyn hyn o’r holiaduron (os ddim, ffoniwch y swyddfa yng Nghaerdydd gan ofyn am gopi) ac fe fuasem yn ddiolchgar pe gallech eu cwbwlhau a’u hanfon yn ol i’r swyddfa. ‘Rydym yn gwerthfawrogi eich safbwyntiau a’ch barn a gobeithiwn wrth ddadansoddi eith sylwadau, fedru sianelu ein hegnion a’n hadnoddau tuag at ateb eich anghenion. Rhan o ddatblygu’r gefnogaeth a’r gwasanaeth i deuluoedd yn y Canolbarth a’r Gorllewin yw’r diwrnod Hwyl i’r Teulu a drefnwyd yng Nghanolfan Gymunedol y Waun Fawr, Aberystwyth SY23 3PN gan Gymdeithas Dewi Sant, Timoedd Mabwysiadu Gorllewin Cymru a Phowys, After Adoption ac Adoption UK. Cynhaliwyd hwn ar Orffennaf 3ydd rhwng 2 a 4 y p’nawn a death Mr BoBo i’n diddanu!
Sera A. Llewelyn
ADOPTER’S SUPPORT GROUP
St. David’s Children Society’s Support Group for approved adopters has been running an incredible nine years. We aim to meet on four occasions a year with the final session of the year given over to the popular ‘Christmas Do’ which appears to be much enjoyed by parents and children alike.
Topics covered over the years have focused on subjects relevant to the adoption experience from many viewpoints.
We are very grateful to people who have given of their time on a precious Saturday morning to coming along to the group to make a presentation whilst feedback also tells us that the sessions people find very useful are those with just the workers and adopters. These sessions often are helpful to adopters wherever they are in the process and the chance to network is felt to be invaluable.
Numbers of people attending the group has remained constant at an average of 16 – 20 adults with accompanying children.
Information from evaluation sheets also relays the children’s enjoyment of the crèche with the opportunity it affords of meeting up with friends they have made through the group, as is the case in respect of the adults.
Our last session of the group in March when Sue Brooks School Liaison Officer for Cardiff City Council made the presentation was well attended and a lively affair. It is planned for the next session after the Annual Celebration will be on October 2nd 2010 when the topic will be the Internet and its safety in relation to children.
Following Support Group dates for your diary are as follows:-
4th December 2010
12th February 2011
7th May 2011
10th September 2011
3rd December 2011.
Thank-you for your support of the group over the years, we hope it is of use to you, we certainly get a lot from the sessions and are always open to suggestion for topics of interest.
ACHIEVEMENTS IN THE PAST YEAR
- We have placed 17 children in total and have started the new year with a further 6 children being placed. These are excellent beginnings due to effective team work and of course all those families who have come forward to adopt.
- All our available families attended the second SWAAF Adoption Exchange day and indicators are that some of our families may achieve a placement through this event.
- We have provided Preparation training for 30 families in the course of the last year and have started this year with another good sized group and a further three courses planned. Special thanks go to Diane Morgan, Mary Jones and Sister Maureen and Billy at the Pastoral Centre for all their help and support.
- We have had two celebration days for adopters. One in Cardiff on June 26th and one in Aberystwyth on July 2nd. The Aberystwyth event is in collaboration with Ceredigion, After Adoption, Adoption UK and Powys. Thanks to Sera Llewellyn for her input in this and to everyone in the Cardiff office and Nazareth House for all their support.
- Along with Adoption UK, After Adoption and Ceredigion we have undertaken a survey of approved adopters in Mid, West and North Wales. This has been in order to plan a more responsive adoption support service including groups, so if you haven’t contributed and would like to do so please let contact us either via the website or by email. (email@example.com email firstname.lastname@example.org)
We are in the process of developing a new strap line for the Society and thought this would be something that our families can assist us with. Of course, there is the added bonus of winning a small but not insignificant prize! Not quite the Eurovision Song Contest but something not a million miles away either!
We are looking for a short phrase that tells people what we do. It is as simple as that. It can sit alongside our logo and the name of the Society too.
There are no restrictions on the amount of entries you can submit and here are a few ideas to get your creative juices flowing:
All are prefaced as follows:
St David’s Children Society –
Achieving fulfilment and happiness through adoption.
Realising a fulfilling future through adoption.
Future building through adoption.
Delivering a family for life.
Achieving family life through a first class delivery.
A new horizon in adoption.
LOOKING AFTER OURSELVES
Updates in medical advice are constantly influencing the way we live our lives and adopters are no exception. Recent discussions with our medical adviser have highlighted how much the thinking has changed in terms of our eating and drinking habits and reinforced why we need to reconsider what we eat and drink, the exercise we take and the model we are providing for our next generation.
The Chief Medical Adviser for Wales, Dr Tony Jewel has now published guidance on children drinking alcohol and with many children coming from families with alcohol related problems, this may be a timely reminder to look not only at our own consumption but on how we educate our children about alcohol and safeguard their future.
In brief Dr Jewel states that:
- Children under the age of 15 should not drink alcohol, as there is evidence that it damages their developing brain, bones and hormones.
- Drinking post 15 years can be hazardous to health as there is the potential for binge drinking, involvement in anti social activity and crime and the possibility of unwanted pregnancy or drugs.
Britain is increasingly becoming an obese nation and we have to acknowledge the risks to our own health and the wellbeing of our children. A healthy eating plan, regular exercise and a smoke free environment are just as important to our children as the most sophisticated hi-tech electronic games or plasma television and the message seems to be that they are safer too.
For more information on the effects of alcohol, obesity and smoking, look at the NHS website (http://www.wales.nhs.uk).
CHILD FRIENDLY ACTIVITIES
Here are a couple of tried and tested recipes courtesy of Sera that your children could with careful supervision help to make. As always, cook with a health and safety hat on and never leave a child unsupervised when cooking!
Chocolate Dipped Strawberries, Grapes and tangerines.
1 punnet of Strawberries,
1 bunch of green grapes
1 or 2 bars of white and milk cooking chocolate
Break the chocolate up into two bowls (one in each bowl) and place each bowl over a saucepan of hot water.
Stir the chocolate until it is melted and remove from the heat. Dip half the strawberries, grapes and tangerine segments halfway into the melted chocolate.
Then lay them on greaseproof or parchment paper to dry. Eat and enjoy!
Nutty Chocolate Biscuits
150g plain chocolate chopped
2 large tbsps golden syrup
225g crushed digestive biscuits
25g chopped hazelnuts or almonds or dried fruit.
Melt the chocolate with butter and syrup in a large bowl over simmering water. Remove from the heat and stir in the biscuit and nuts or dried fruit. Spread into a 20cm square tin, lined with greaseproof or parchment paper.
Refrigerate for a couple of hours or if you are in a hurry, place the tin in the freezer for about 50 minutes. To finish, cut into small square pieces.
Whilst you are in the kitchen you could also consider making some Pasta Paintings, or Spaghetti Heads.
You will need to equip yourself with a variety of pasta shapes, some saucers of paint mixed with child friendly glue (messy but good fun), and some paper.
A simple but effective method to follow:
- Cook some spaghetti until it is just tender, drain and rinse under cold water.
- Spread a thin layer of glue over a sheet of paper, and when the pasta is cool enough to handle, give a handful to each child and encourage them to make face shapes on the paper.
- Cut the spaghetti into short strips to make hair and use other cuts and shaped pieces to make the face features.
- To keep the picture when it’s finished, cover it with greaseproof paper and leave a heavy book on top of it for a while. This will allow the pasta to stick firmly to the paper.
Alternatively, try Pasta Jewellery: You will need:
- Uncooked pasta of any shape (pasta tubes for a necklace).
- Thick paint
- String or ribbon
Paint the pasta and leave to dry.
Tip – for a sparkly finish, sprinkle with glitter whilst it’s still wet.
Measure a length of ribbon that will fit over a child’s head or hand and when the paint is dry, thread the tubes onto the ribbon.
For best effects use a nice variety of colours and lengths.