Oak Tree School  Statement

We were very disappointed to learn of the delay to the opening of Oak Tree School in Winnersh, which had been expected to open in September 2022.

Brighter Futures for Children (BFfC) will ensure that those Reading children for whom Oak Tree would have been a suitable school will have places found for them in other appropriate settings.

As a key stakeholder, BFfC will continue to work closely with the Department for Education and Wokingham Borough Council, who are leading the project, as well as with Reading Borough Council (RBC) and Maiden Erlegh Trust. We will be pushing for this important project to progress as quickly as possible.

In the meantime, BFfC and RBC are progressing with a programme to increase the number of school places for children and young people with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) in Reading. This includes the expansion of The Avenue School in Tilehurst, the relocation of Hamilton School and the establishment of specialist units in mainstream schools and nurseries.


National fostering film project launches in Reading

Brighter Futures for Children is joining fostering services across the country for the national release of a new short film commissioned by the largest collaboration of local councils, children’s trusts and not-for-profit agencies from all over England.

The unique film project, developed by the West Midlands Regional Fostering Recruitment Forum, is now working with councils and not-for-profit agencies around the country who have jointly funded the creation of a new film, aimed at helping to find more foster carers who can provide homes for the children and young people who need them.

The short film, called ‘Out There’, highlights the ways fostering can make a difference to the lives of everyone involved, from the children and young people who live with foster carers, to those who come forward to care for them.

Di Smith, Board Chair of Brighter Futures for Children, said: “While we have many brilliant foster carers in Reading, we always need more people to open their homes and their hearts to fostering.

“This project has been a great example of collaborative working to produce a high-quality film that will be a real asset in our campaign to recruit new foster carers in Reading.

“The aim is for this film to be shared on social media across the UK, reaching countless people and showing them the many benefits fostering brings to everyone involved, and we are proud to have played a part in making it happen.”

A total of 34 local authorities and not-for-profit agencies have been involved in the project, and the film will have a virtual premiere at midday on 12 October which will include an introduction from Kevin Williams, the Chief Executive of The Fostering Network. Everyone attending from the participating councils, children’s trusts and not-for-profit agencies will then be asked to share the film via all social media platforms and help the message spread across the UK using the hashtags #FosterForYourCouncil and #FindTheBestOfYou

Maria Young, Director of Children’s Social Care at BFfC, said: “By being a part of this project, we get the best benefits from pooling resources. The time, knowledge and expertise that working as partners has brought to this project can now help the children and young people in Reading.

“Out There captures many of the thoughts and emotions being felt today, particularly as many people have reflected during the pandemic about their life choices and the importance of community support. I think the film itself and the partnership approach really demonstrates the benefit of collaborative working.”

The film will be available to watch and share from midday on Tuesday 12 October on Brighter Futures for Children’s Facebook page (www.facebook.com/BFfCChild) and on www.readingfostering.co.uk. You can also view it on BFfC YouTube channel.

If the film inspires you to become a foster carer or learn more, you can contact the fostering team at 0118 469 3020 or email foster@brighterfuturesforchildren.org.

NOTE TO EDITORS

Brighter Futures for Children IFA is a not-for-profit independent fostering agency, independent of, but wholly owned by Reading Borough Council.


Brighter Futures for Children celebrates Sons and Daughters Month

Children of foster carers play a vital role in helping children or young people in care feel welcome and part of their foster family. We are celebrating their contribution in Reading during Sons and Daughters Month this October.

Brighter Futures for Children’s Independent Fostering Agency (IFA) will be highlighting the positive impact foster carers’ own children have on young people who come into their home during The Fostering Network’s annual campaign.

BFfC’s IFA has a fantastic group called the Foster Squad in Reading, where foster carers’ own children can get together, have fun and share their experiences of being foster siblings.

This month, the Foster Squad will be thanking all children of BFfC foster carers in Reading with a trip to the cinema and lunch at a pizza restaurant. They will also be presented with certificates and ‘thank you’ vouchers.

Di Smith, Board Chair of Brighter Futures for Children, said: “The contribution made by foster carers’ children is vitally important but not always widely recognised. Sons and Daughters Month gives us a chance to put that right.

“These young people welcome children into their family homes and help to make them feel happier, safer and more loved.

“I would like to thank all the sons and daughters of foster carers in Reading for their tremendous contribution to fostering.”

Kate and Winston are foster carers in Reading who foster alongside their two daughters, Cassie, 16, and Ellie, 20.

Kate and Winston said: “Fostering has taught our birth children so much. They are incredibly kind and accepting young people who have embraced all the children we have cared for, whatever their background or ability.

“I know they will keep those wonderful attributes with them throughout their lives. The difference they have made and continue to make to the lives of others makes us very proud.”

In Reading, there is a shortage of foster carers, which means children and young people are often fostered outside the borough. This is highly disruptive for them and takes them away from their school, friends and other support networks that are important to them, particularly at such a difficult time in their lives.

Brighter Futures for Children, which has the only not-for-profit Independent Fostering Agency in Reading, is looking for people aged over 21, with a spare room and a big heart to become foster carers within a 20-mile radius of Reading itself.

Whether you have children still living at home, your youngest child has grown up and moved out of home or even if you have not had your own children, BFfC’s IFA is interested in hearing from you.

You can join the next online fostering information session on Tuesday 19 October, 5.30-6.30pm by emailing foster@brighterfuturesforchildren.org. Call the friendly fostering team on 0118 469 3020 to learn more, or visit the website: www.readingfostering.co.uk for inspiring stories.

There is no obligation, and tuning into an information session, listening to a foster carer tell their own story and experiences and being able to ask questions informally is a great way to find out more about fostering and whether it’s right for you.

NOTES TO EDITOR

Foster carer Kate and daughter Cassie are available for interview. Please email: David.millward1@brighterfuturesforchildren.org or call 0118 937 4081 if you would like to arrange an interview.

Find out more about Sons and Daughters Month on The Fostering Network’s website at: https://www.thefosteringnetwork.org.uk/get-involved/championing-fostering/sons-and-daughters-month