The webinars will give young people an opportunity to learn, think and talk about issues linked to the Black Lives Matter protests and movement, including systemic racism, discrimination and privilege.
Run by our experienced therapists who work with young people at Family Futures, there will be short videos and information about the different topics. Young people can share their own experiences and how they have been impacted, although there will be no expectation to talk. Ideas about resources and action will be shared and we’ll be considering what needs to change: in our society and cultures, and in our own lives, schools, and families.
Dear families and friends of Family Futures,
Well we are all still in lockdown and although measures are being eased, concerns about the risks remain high and how things will progress in the coming months remain uncertain.
This is now the fourteenth week of Family Futures operating virtually. It has of course had its challenges but we are proud that we are still open and have managed to operate all our services virtually. Six months ago this would have been unthinkable whereas now it is a reality. We are thinking of when, and how, we will come out of lockdown but it is a slow and sensitive process as we need to keep everyone safe, families that attend Family Futures and the staff team too. We are therefore undertaking the first of a series of risk assessment processes and will keep you informed as things progress.
I wanted in this letter to acknowledge the Black Lives Matter movement and the worldwide protests about racism, discrimination and social inequality. We are living in extraordinary times. The global protests following the death of George Floyd, as well as the Covid-19 pandemic, have brought to the fore extreme inequalities in different countries but also in different parts of the UK. We are all responsible for making sure that all children grow up in a society where people are treated equally and fairly and are not discriminated against because of their culture or heritage.
In adoption and fostering, we need to think about how we can support BAME members of our community who are considering adopting or fostering a child. What needs to change in our services to make them more accessible to all? As a staff team, Family Futures is committed to educating ourselves and developing our services to ensure they meet the needs of all members of our community and reflect our rich and diverse culture in the UK.
Therefore, we are listening to and engaging with our staff team on issues relating to racial discrimination and social injustice and exploring what changes we can make to our services to ensure they are genuinely inclusive.
We are also wanting to engage with parents, children, young people and the wider professional network to see what changes we need to make at Family Futures so we would really welcome your views and ideas on how we can make sure Family Futures is inclusive and open to all.
The world has changed and maybe good can come from this. I hope so. The challenges are clearly going to continue so please continue to have compassion for yourselves and remember how hard this is, and how as a parent you are doing your best in extraordinary times. We are here if you need us and we will do all we can to support you and your children.
With love from Jay and all the team at Family Futures
25 June 2020
Black Lives Matter – Family Futures responds to the tragic killing of George Floyd and recent events
Family Futures stands in solidarity with all those experiencing racism. We are listening to the experiences of Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic communities. We see you. We hear you and we will continue to listen. We recognise that recent shocking events are not new and are part of a wider systemic racism which is impacting our communities here in the UK.
We commit to educating ourselves and continually developing our services to increase understanding and awareness of racist beliefs and racial bias. The current events and the racism experienced in the lives of children and families we work with will need to be addressed and processed. It is time to acknowledge the heightened anxiety and pain felt by BAME members of our community and each play our part to give BAME children a future free of systemic racism and discrimination.
We were delighted to be joined by Dr Dan Hughes, founder of DDP this week for the first of our series of expert-led webinars to support families through these stressful times.
180 parents/carers attended the webinar to hear parenting guidance and examples of dealing with difficult and challenging situations.
“Highly recommended! What a lovely man Dan Hughes is, so calm and knowledgeable, brilliant.”
Dear Family Futures families and friends,
Well here we are moving into week eight of lockdown and following Sunday evening’s announcement the lockdown is clearly going to continue for the coming weeks.
It has been a challenging time for everyone adjusting to this new reality of being at home twenty-four seven. One of the big challenges that we have been hearing from families has been trying to home educate and feeling the pressure with lessons sent by schools to try and ensure that your child doesn’t get behind in their school work. This is, of course, even harder for parents trying to also work from home.
It is understandable that for older children who have exams coming up, some form of school work continues. However, we are of the view that it is an unnecessary pressure for parents with primary school or early secondary school aged children to be focusing on school work in the midst of the pandemic.
Many parents are feeling under pressure that if they don’t do their bit and keep the child on track with school work they are letting them down. Many of you are also worried that when your child returns to school they are going to be behind.
The task for us professionals is to help children and families find a way through this lockdown period and not exacerbate mental health difficulties and increase the stress on parents who are often trying to juggle childcare and work. Can we not find a better way through this together?
At Family Futures we think that, at a time of global crisis, the priority should not be school work, but using this time of lockdown to help children enjoy time at home with their parents.
Managing children’s anxieties about why the world outside no longer feels safe is a vital task for parents at this time, particularly for traumatised children where it is important not to compound the traumas they have already experienced.
This lockdown period is a golden opportunity to do some of the things adopted and fostered children missed out on doing when they were first placed – a chance for child and parent interaction. Those first weeks and months of placement are often far more challenging than anticipated and most children do not settle immediately but are understandably anxious about this new family. Is it really safe and forever? So at the beginning of a placement it often isn’t possible for children to really enjoy the time at home with the new family and experience that early interaction.
Children who have had traumatic childhoods haven’t had that early time at home with a parent when it is possible to play and to potter around at home doing day-to-day things together. These things are not to be underestimated as they are the building blocks by which we learn to learn – the foundations of all our learning. This sort of learning happens naturally and is enjoyable!
So we recommend learning naturally and without conflict. Put down the school books and focus on learning through the day-to-day tasks of hanging out the washing, cleaning, cooking, playing in the garden, teddy bears picnics and singing together! Play Eye Spy, hide and seek, and make dens! These tasks and games may not work for every child, but pick ones that suit your family, and enjoy teaching your child how to be happy, how to play and most importantly how to be in a relationship with you. This reduction of pressure and stress has the potential to ease the overall stress of lockdown and will help relationships blossom and ultimately help the learning when your child returns to school.
To support families at this time we’ll be running webinars in the next few weeks with ideas and guidance from our team, plus a chance to ask us your questions. (You can find out more about these here.)
With love from Jay and all the team at Family Futures
11 May 2020
Dear families, professional colleagues and friends of Family Futures,
Well we are now entering our sixth week of lockdown at Family Futures and seeing virtual working as something that will need to be in place for some time.
It has been an adjustment for all of the team but we are proud that we are still managing to provide support to our families, albeit virtually, our advice line is open and we have just had our first virtual panel! We have also just launched a series of Webinars to support parents with the first one, a Webinar with Dr Daniel Hughes, booking fast!
Lockdown has been hard for lots of the families we have been in touch with as they have been struggling to manage the stress of the pandemic and how much this situation is triggering trauma issues for their children.
For anyone who has a traumatic history feeling the world is no longer a safe place and other people can potentially be a source of fear is highly evocative. This is no longer a fear state that is just based on a traumatic history but a fear that is based on the reality of what is happening in the here and now. In this way a fear based survival response is a healthy reasonable response to the situation. For children who have had other traumatic experiences in their lives, which mean that their nervous systems are wired to stress, then the extent to which they are activated is much more extreme.
We are in a war situation and at such times calming our stress response so we can make good strategic decisions about how to survive is key.
Calming our nervous system is even more important than it would be in other war situations as it is our bodies that are under attack! We absolutely need to support our nervous system now, more than ever, so that our immune systems are in a good shape to manage the attack.
So how do we manage such immense stress and keep sane?
We need to be curious about how we are managing this stress, asking ourselves:
- How is our body managing this crisis?
- Is our heart beating faster?
- What increases our heart rate?
- What calms our heart rate?
- How is our breathing?
- Is that faster too?
- Are we breathing higher in our chests?
- What can make our breathing calm?
- Can the breathing settle lower in the belly?
- How is our skin temperature?
- Is it hotter or colder at different times of the day?
- Are some bits of our body constantly too cold or too hot?
- What feels a good body temperature?
- Do we have more aches and pains than normal?
- Do we have more somatic symptoms such as headaches, stomach aches etc?
So we just need to notice and be curious about what our body is telling us:
- What information is our body sharing with us?
- We need to think what resources us?
- How can we calm our stress response?
- What nurtures us and helps us feel good inside?
- What or who helps us manage optimally at times of stress?
As parents we need to look after ourselves first, and our own body and nervous system responses, so that we are able to attend to our children’s nervous systems too. We need to find our own ‘oxygen mask’ and put this on so that we can in turn help our children put on their ‘oxygen mask’ too.
We are living in extraordinary times and what is happening in the world was unthinkable to most of us only a few months ago. We keep the hope that this time will pass and life will return to something more akin to ‘normal’ in the future. But for now we should be kind to ourselves and have compassion for ourselves as we are managing as best we can.
With love from Jay and all the team at Family Futures
27 April 2020
Jay Vaughan is the CEO and Registered Manager at Family Futures CIC. Jay is a Certified Theraplay therapist and supervisor as well as a Theraplay trainer. She is also a state registered Dramatherapist, Dyadic Developmental Psychotherapist and Somatic Experience Practitioner.
If you have a question for us at Family Futures about how we can support you at this time of heightened stress and anxiety, please email us or call our advice line: 020 7354 4161.
Dear Dan Webinar – Dan Hughes answers parents & carers’ questions
How to parent as you hope to during the lockdown
18 May 2020, 2-5pm live online (with a half-hour break from 3.15-3.45pm)
Family Futures is inviting adoptive parents, foster carers and kinship carers to sign up to a live online webinar on 18 May with Dr Dan Hughes, founder of DDP. Dan will be offering parenting ideas to inspire you and creative ways to help children (and their parents) experience safety in spite of the anxious times we are living through.
The government announced on 10 April a widening of the scope of support covered by the ASF for adoptive families. The COVID-19 Adoption Support Fund will be available “to pay for different types of therapeutic support for families whose adopted children may have already suffered trauma and be made more anxious owing to the uncertainty of the effects of the virus.”
£8 million of adoption support funding will be made available to help adoptive families across England, recognising the “greater stress due to children with attachment and trauma needs being isolated at home and having their routine disrupted, which can lead to an increase in adoption breakdown and child to parent violence.”
Family Futures is open and running our assessment and therapeutic treatment services through secure, digital platforms. We are also accepting new referrals.
These tactile rich sensory activities are recommended by our Paediatric OT team as a great way for children to have fun while at home.
No-yeast pizza dough – a quick and easy recipe your children can make
The following are NOT EDIBLE and need adult supervision!
How to make your own slime – 2 recipes for homemade slime
How to make play dough – an easy recipe with tips
Have fun! If you want to send us photos of your creations you can send them by email to firstname.lastname@example.org and we will update this page with new pictures!
We were deeply saddened to hear that Christine Gordon, one of the founding members of Family Futures, died recently in a car accident in Costa Rica.
Christine was an adoptive parent full of enthusiasm and passion for supporting adopters. She completely understood the struggles many adopters were facing, at a time when these were not widely acknowledged, and would do everything she could to help adoptive families, day or night. Christine was much loved by other adopters and a driving force behind setting up Family Futures in 1998.
Christine was Scottish and loved her bike and adventures in the great outdoors. She was one of only a few women to have completed climbing all the Munros in Scotland and went on to climb all the Furths (the plus-3000ft mountains in England, Wales and Ireland). In doing so, Christine became the first woman to climb all of Ireland’s mountains. Christine travelled to all the continents including Antarctica, and loved walking and cycling in different countries around the world. She set up a YouTube channel with videos of travel and hill walking to inspire others to pursue their own adventures and travels.
All of us at Family Futures would like to offer our sincere condolences to Christine’s family and loved ones. A truly inspiring lady who made a huge difference to the lives of the many adoptive families she was dedicated to.