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Cherry blossom tree marks start of ‘Rooted in Reading’ campaign

18 February 2020

Brighter Futures for Children and Ethical Reading joint press release, February 18 2020

When a 14-year-old boy moved to his permanent foster home last year, he came up with an idea to help himself – and others like him – keep their roots in Reading.

As an active member of Brighter Futures for Children’s Children in Care Council, he suggested a tree would help him, and others just like him, feel ‘rooted’ in the town.

He wanted a tree that would ‘grow fast and tall, live a long time and have pinky white blossom that would flutter down in the wind.’

Catie Blundell, Brighter Futures for Children’s participation officer, wanted to make this happen for him and others like him, so she worked in partnership with Ethical Reading and its innovative Trees for Reading initiative.

In association with Reading Borough Council (RBC) and Reading Tree Wardens, the initiative offers local organisations and individuals the opportunity to make a positive difference by sponsoring the planting and care of trees within the town.

Lead Councillor for Culture, Heritage and Recreation, Cllr Karen Rowland, passionately supported the project.

The people of Reading have paid for the tree through crowdfunding on Ethical Reading’s JustGiving page.

The double-bloom ornamental cherry tree – a Prunus avium ‘Plena’ – was planted outside the town hall in a special ceremony on Monday 17 February.

The private event was attended by members of the various organisations involved and, most importantly, by children and young people in care.

‘His idea was brilliant and it will help him, and many others like him, feel they truly belong. We have a lot of children and young people who either can’t live in Reading anymore because it isn’t safe for them to do so, or who have to live outside Reading because we don’t have enough local foster carers,’ said Brighter Futures for Children’s managing director Tony Kildare. ‘We can’t thank Ethical Reading and Reading Borough Council enough for working with us to make it happen.’

Brighter Futures for Children will shortly be launching a campaign, based on the tree and what it symbolises, called ‘Rooted in Reading’, to find more local foster carers.

Kathryn McCann, from Ethical Reading’s Sustainability team, commented: ‘It has been such a pleasure to work with him, Catie and the team at Brighter Futures for Children to make this happen. We look forward to seeing the tree in bloom, and hope that it will be a potent symbol of hope and belonging for Reading children in care for many years to come.’

Liz Terry, Reading Borough Council’s Lead Councillor for Children, said: ‘Our focus as a council is to achieve the best possible outcomes for children and young people in Reading. While it is not always possible due to individual circumstances, where we can we want children to be fostered in their home town, where they already have put down roots and where they feel secure and settled. The new tree in Town Hall Square is a symbol of that ambition and the council is pleased to have worked with partners to have made it a reality.’

Karen Rowland, Lead Councillor for Culture, Heritage and Recreation, said: ‘The planting of this tree is particularly meaningful to me, as an adopted child who experienced first-hand a personal sense of loss from being separated from the place where I was born. I’m thrilled to be able to play a role in helping this young person’s vision become a reality here in Reading.’

Notes to Editors

To find out more about becoming a foster carer with Brighter Futures for Children, visit the website: https://brighterfuturesforchildren.org/services/fostering/

Find out more about Ethical Reading’s Trees for Reading project here:

https://ethicalreading.org.uk/trees-for-reading/