25th birthday celebration for RICF! 

A big thank you to everyone for your ongoing support and encouragement for RICF! The UK charity was registered in 1997 and turned 25 this summer. We are so pleased with all that has been achieved over that quarter of a century and the lives that have been changed for the better. Do get in touch with us with your best memories of your involvement with RICF over that time. We would love to hear from you! I'm not sure I would know where to start with my best memories, as there are so many - it has been such an honour and privilege, and my involvement in Romania has been a major part of my whole adult life.
Suzie-studentSuzie-thenSuzie Now


Tyre race anonymised

However, one memory that springs to mind is of spending my summers as a medical student in Bucharest, hanging out with the young lads we had taken in from the streets and others who had been orphaned or abandoned and came into our care. I remember it being a fun and relaxed time, sitting at the side of the road playing a guitar and chatting, and coordinating a race with several young boys rolling car tyres through a small park near one of our first rented apartments. We wanted to make sure that these kids who had been through so many traumas and had been forced to grow up far too quickly had the chance to simply be kids and have fun! I love this photo so much. I have blanked out faces to protect the identities of these dear people who are now in their 30s and some of whom I have the privilege of still being in touch with.

Celebrate with us!

To celebrate our birthday we are launching a 25th birthday appeal so that we are able to go forwards into our next quarter of a century able to maintain and then increase the numbers of participants in our projects and to continue putting our core values into practice to serve vulnerable children and families in Romania.

25If you are not already a regular donor we would like to invite you to consider setting up a monthly donation of £2.50 or any multiple of that amount to support our ongoing work. If you already give regularly, thank you so much, and we would love it if you would celebrate with us by making an additional one off donation of £2.50, £25, £250 or any other multiple of 25 that you would like to.

I've started the ball rolling by making a transfer today. I'll let you know next time I write how much we have raised! Please don't feel you need to donate if this is a difficult time for you financially - we are so grateful for the ongoing donations we receive each month from our generous supporters to support our core projects. However, if you would like to give, please follow the link to donate.

Thanks to Ovidiu, Simona and Emilia

We are very grateful to the FICR HQ team in Bucharest for their ongoing dedication and hard work. We have been so impressed by their flexibility and willingness to go above and beyond particularly in co-ordinating FICR's response to the Ukrainian refugee crisis. FICR's simple three-room apartment in Bucharest has so far provided sanctuary for four different families fleeing the war, for as long as they needed it before moving on to a more definitive temporary home. FICR's most recent refugees hosted were a family of four awaiting paperwork to travel to the UK to stay with the mum's sister. FICR were able to help out with meeting their needs for a couple of months including food, medication and a warm safe place to stay. FICR moved some of the group meetings to one to ones at that time to avoid disturbing the family who were using the main meeting room as their temporary home, but are now back to group meetings in person at the HQ. We wish all of these refugee families hosted so far the very best.

Project updates: 'O familie pentru mine' ('A Family for Me') Foster care project

Since our last update, the two youngest girls involved in this project (aged 2 and 6) have moved to new homes. One has moved to a different part of the country with a view to family reintegration, overseen by the Romanian child protection authorities. The other proved to have additional complex needs which put her at risk in a family-based foster care arrangement, and the child protection authorities have moved her to a specialised placement with an attached special school. The FICR team have supported the children and foster carers through these transitions, and are grateful to these foster carers for their service and resilience, always championing the best interests of the child in their care. FICR currently has nine girls aged between 12 and 19 years and five boys aged between 13 and 19 years, and their 11 foster carers, enrolled in this project.  FICR is looking to recruit more children and their foster carers into the project, as funds allow. FICR is very grateful to the donors of RICF and US charity Remember Nhu for their support for this project. 

'Vreau si eu o mama' ('Me too, I want a mother!') 

FICR continues to have places for 13 mums and babies in this project at any one time, and is again grateful to the donors of RICF and Remember Nhu for their support for this project.  The team have worked hard to maximise the number of vulnerable families benefitting from this project, and since our last update they have managed to keep all 13 places occupied every month, recruiting new mums and babies to the project as soon as others were ready to graduate.  FICR is currently providing financial support for four girls and nine boys with ages ranging between 2 months and 25 months.

One of the most recent participants to join the group was sadly widowed just a month before giving birth. The FICR team have been able to welcome her into the group and offer moral support as well as the financial support which is much needed at the moment as her husband had been working overseas and she had no independent income. The team ensure that each family is receiving all the state benefits that they are eligible for, including applying retrospectively where possible, as well as signposting to other specialist services where needed, such as psychological therapies and refuges for women and children who are victims of domestic violence. Simona, the project facilitator, offers advice and support tailored to each individual situation.

It was lovely to hear in a recent update from the team that one mum who was graduating from the maternity project with her toddler brought the toddler along to the 'graduation' meeting, and said that she would love to keep coming along to the support meetings even now she is financially independent, as she has benefitted so much from being part of the group. Simona welcomes mums like these to the group and there is also an active Whats App support community for current and past participants. It is great to hear that friendships have formed between various mums in the group, and they arrange to meet up together, for example when they take their children to the park. 

IMG-20220924-WA0003Today I had the pleasure of informing the FICR team about a special donation which I will be able to bring across to Romania at my next visit, in the next few months. A kind supporter contacted us to ask whether RICF could make use of Avios. We found out that he could convert them to M&S vouchers, which we gratefully received, and I have just turned this donation into educational toys which I will take out alongside some other toys which have been donated by trustees.

I have suggested the idea of a toy library as there will be just enough for each mum and baby / toddler to borrow one toy each month at the group meeting, and then return it the following month and choose a different one. This way each child will always have at least one educational toy at home while they are part of the project. I remember visiting babies and toddlers at their homes where the only entertainment or education was the mum's mobile phone, so this will be a fantastic opportunity for the kids to get their hands on some real toys which they can enjoy and learn from.

Over time I hope we can expand this toy library so that past participants can keep coming to visit and borrow toys even after they graduate from the project. Simona is excited about this and has offered to take responsibility for organising a 'toy library corner' at the HQ. I would love to also complement it with a board book library, but we would need to purchase these materials in Romania to ensure they are in the Romanian language. Do get in touch if you are interested in donating towards this or towards expanding the toy library.

There are often creative ways that people can donate to RICF, so if you have any ideas, do please get in touch. And thank you so much to all those who give regularly to allow the mums and babies to be part of this group which we are so proud of.  The number of lives changed for the better is slowly but surely increasing since this project was launched in 2009, with average participation around 12 months but extended where needed.

Independent living and Professional development

We are grateful to FICR’s social worker, Emilia, as she continues to offer individual mentoring to the young people in FICR’s projects approaching adulthood to help prepare them for independent living. All of the young people currently supported in FICR's 'A family for me' project are teenagers or preteens at the moment. Emilia gives advice about further education and career options. We aim for the transition to independence to be well planned and understood, and to offer continued financial support where the young person is continuing high school education. However, if they are moving into paid employment, FICR agrees with them a plan for withdrawing financial support as they become independent.

New RICF volunteer

IMG 20220902 215729We are delighted to welcome Emily Hamblin to the RICF team as a volunteer. She is an education specialist and parenting coach with over 20 years' experience of working in the UK and globally for a range of educational settings and charities, working with a trauma-informed approach.  We are really pleased that Emily came across RICF's work through our website and resonated with our projects and core values. She plans to visit FICR in the October half term and we are really excited about all the training and support she will offer to FICR's project participants and HQ team.

We look forward to telling you all about it after her visit!

Thanks to all our supporters

Thank you so much for your ongoing support for RICF and your commitment to our work. Thank you also to those who have given or facilitated additional donations in response to particular recent appeals. Over the last 12 months we are delighted to have been able to send an additional £2,550 in Covid-19 hardship funds. This has all now been used by FICR to provide food parcels and medicines to our project participants and to fund prolonged participation where needed in our abandonment prevention project. We are also delighted to have been able to send over an additional £500 in March 2022 and a further £1000 in May 2022 to fund FICR's response to supporting refugees fleeing the war in Ukraine.

Thank you once again to all those who support our work in Romania - without you none of this life-transforming work would be possible. 

God bless,


25Don't forget to send us your favourite memories - we would love to create a virtual memory board! And please follow the link if you would like to help us celebrate our 25th birthday by starting a regular donation or making a one-off donation!

Suzie Marsden, 24/09/2022