February Update

 Our psychologist, Simona, is currently in the UK on a work placement. She has spent the last week with a fostering agency in Sheffield, Team Fostering, where she stayed with board member, Ruth. Walter, from SFAC (who we are currently working closely with in developing training for Romanian state employed social workers and foster carers) helped to organise this visit. During the week with Team Fostering Simona had the opportunity to meet with a variety of professionals involved in supporting foster placements and undergo some of Team Fostering’s in-house training. Simona has left with a number of training resources and ideas of how we can further improve our practice in a Romanian context.

Simona is now in Canterbury staying with board member, Suzie. While in Canterbury she will visit two small charitable organisations: Canter Care who provide supported housing to young homeless women who are pregnant or have a young baby and Porchlight who help vulnerable and isolated people get support with their mental health, housing, education and employment. We are thankful to Team Fostering, Canter Care and Porchlight for giving Simona the opportunity to learn from their practice. We will bring you more news about Simona’s experience once she is back in Romania and able to fully reflect on her placement.

We are pleased to be able to tell you that on 15th February our part time social worker, Mona, gave birth to a healthy baby girl. We send our congratulations to Mona and her family. With Simona currently on placement in the UK and Mona on maternity leave our director and social worker, Ovidiu, has been left holding down the fort in Bucharest! He is busy managing the placements in our different projects.
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Let us share a recent success story in our Maternity Project. One of our mums is 35 years old, and mother of three children aged 18, 8 and 2. Ten years ago, she started to take drugs in an attempt to forget about her daily life. She became addicted and started to steal to feed her habit. In 2001, she was charged with theft and sentenced to eight years in prison. Five years later she was released for good behaviour. Several weeks after giving birth prematurely to her youngest child, she felt overwhelmed by this new responsibility. On top of this her own mother died. She realised that she needed specialised help. She worked hard to over-come her addiction, assisted by specialists from the Romanian National Antidrug Agency. Once clean she was referred into our Maternity Project. 
In July 2014, she and her youngest child were included in our Maternity Project. As part of our support she receives counselling on parenting skills and budgeting. As well as attending our support group she also continues to attend a local drug recovery self-help group. She is not ashamed to share her story with others, and is determined to stay away from drugs. She is optimistic about her future and wants to see her children growing up. Recently she has been unwell so we have extended her time in our project though hope that she is soon well enough to care for her children independently and graduate from our programme. We are pleased to be able to support her in her recovery and offer her short term support that will enable her to independently care for her children in the long term.
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Some financial pressures to our core funds mean that we are having to review our key priorities in relation to our core projects in the coming year. We are thankful for the recent fundraising efforts of Holy Trinity, Melrose which is helping to gap the deficit in our core budget due to some regular donors having to reduce their monthly donations as a result of wider financial pressures.

We are also thankful to Bushey Baptist Church for donating designated funds to run an Educational Project supporting both our own teenagers and other young people cared for by the state. We see this as a great opportunity for our young people to meet other young people in similar situations to themselves and also to help publicise our other projects in Bucharest. This project will start when Simona returns to Romania and we will give your more information about this project in future updates.

Ruth Barley, 28/02/2016