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Return to school webinars for parents, carers and professionals

We still have spaces on our Dan Hughes ‘return to school’ webinars and our new Sensory Integration webinar with Mandy.

Dr Dan Hughes will be live online for parents/carers on 25 August, 2-4pm and for professionals on 27 August, 2-4pm. You can learn ideas and tips to help children feel safe as they return to school post-lockdown. How can a PACE approach help with transitions and anxieties? Send in your questions for Dan when you book and find out more here:
Parents & carers webinar
Professionals webinar

On 1 September, Mandy (Occupational Therapist and Advanced Sensory Integration Practitioner) will be holding a live online webinar to explain sensory modulation and how this links to our stress response and ability to self regulate. For many adoptive, SGO and foster families, the stresses of living through lockdown have brought their child’s sensory issues to the fore, particularly for children whose sensory development has been impaired by early life trauma. Mandy will offer tips, support and answer your questions in this Sensory Integration Webinar with Mandy.

Liam’s Story

Webinar screening of a new animation – shown on World Suicide Prevention Day, 10 September

Liam’s Story is a new animation created to raise awareness about suicide prevention and was released for World Suicide Prevention Day, 10 September 2020. The story of Liam’s life is told by his family and the animation was screened during a live webinar on 10 September.

Liam’s Story is a beautiful and moving animation, designed to honour Liam’s life and raise awareness of suicide prevention. The film was created by Liam’s family with support from Family Futures and was directed and animated by Tim Hawkins. The film has important messages for young people, families, friends and professionals to help keep vulnerable young people safe – “communication is a very important part of staying alive and safe until things improve, which they will.” The webinar included a panel discussion with Family Futures therapists, Papyrus’ Hopeline and Liam’s mum exploring the issues raised by Liam’s Story. It is vitally important to tell people how we truly feel and for professionals to work collaboratively and with a young person’s loved ones to keep them safe. You can read more about Liam’s Story and view the webinar screening of the animation here. #suicideprevention #wspd2020

Read more information about Liam’s Story, suicide prevention and organisations offering help and support here#WSPD2020 #WSPD #LiamsStory

Sensory summer activities and Sensory Integration Webinar

Our Occupational Therapy team have put together some sensory summer activity ideas for you to try over the holidays.

Do you have questions about your child’s sensory development? Why not join our Sensory Integration webinar on 1 September, where Mandy will be answering questions from parents/carers and suggesting practical strategies to help children regulate their sensory systems.

For many adoptive, SGO and foster families, the stresses of living through lockdown and anxieties about the transition back to school have brought their child’s sensory issues to the fore, particularly for children whose sensory development has been impaired by early life trauma. Parents and carers participating in the webinar will have the opportunity to try activities that engage the senses and help support regulation. 

Summer letter from Jay Vaughan

Dear families and friends of Family Futures,

There is no doubt that everyone has been impacted by the huge challenges of this year, and for adopted, fostered and special guardianship children and their families, the heightened fear around day to day life and the threat to safety has been hard to cope with.

We have been impressed at Family Futures by the resilience and determination shown by children and their families who have found ways to manage and make the lockdown not just bearable, but a positive chance to reconnect to each other. However, that being said, we have also been shocked and saddened to see the distress some children and families are in, and have had desperate enquires to our advice line from parents who feel they cannot go on. We are doing all we can to support anyone who gets in touch with us and will continue to do so.

Family Futures are concerned about a second wave (or an on-going wave as it is now being termed) so we are being cautious, but hope that we can continue with gradually opening up more face to face work to support children and their families. I want to reassure you that we will do everything we can to remain on this trajectory of gradually re-opening face to face work, whilst balancing the risks and keeping children, families and the team at Family Futures safe.

As we head into the summer holidays we will be providing our usual online support services, some distanced face to face working (in ventilated spaces with PPE) as appropriate. We are also running a series of online webinars and support groups for families. Please let us know if we can do any more to help.

I wanted to say whilst my focus is on children and families, I would also like to acknowledge all the professionals in the fostering and adoption world in particular, and their hard work to provide support in these difficult times. We need to work together to support each other if we are going to be able to support the children and families who, more than ever, need our help. We will continue to do all we can to support you.

Finally and importantly, a message to children and their families – however you spend the coming summer holidays take time to enjoy the little things: the smell of a flower, the shared smile, the connection to each other as it is this connection that will resource us and make whatever we have to face manageable.

With love from Jay and the team at Family Futures

30 July 2020

Problems with contacting Family Futures, 10 July 2020

Update, 13 July: our email and phone lines are now up and running again.

Family Futures is running Black Lives Matter webinars for young people in July

Black Lives Matter – webinar for young people aged 13-15, 21 July, 1.30-3.30pm

Black Lives Matter – webinar for young people aged 16-18, 22 July, 1.30-3.30pm

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.

A letter to families and friends

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 Black, Asian and minority ethnic members of our community and each play our part to give Black, Asian and minority ethnic children a future free of systemic racism and discrimination.  

Resources for talking to children about race – click here

CBBC Newsround – George Floyd: why are there huge protests in the US and around the world?

Expert-led webinars for parents and professionals during Covid-19

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.”

“Brilliantly useful”.

To find out about our upcoming webinars click here

Easing the stress of lockdown – a letter to families and friends

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

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