A big thank you to everyone for your ongoing support and encouragement for RICF!
Emily's visit to FICR
Last update we were delighted to introduce you to Emily Hamblin who has recently joined 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. Emily visited FICR in the October half term and we are really grateful for all her hard work both preparing for her visit and while she was there, and also for her insights and reflections following her visit which I will discuss with the team in detail during my next visit, planned in the next 2-3 months.
Here is a summary which Emily wrote following her visit.
On 25th October 2022 I set off for Bucharest with a suitcase packed full of educational resources and trauma-informed play items for the children involved in FICR. I also had some training resources for workshops with the staff and the mothers in both the Abandonment Prevention project and the Enhancing Foster Care project. I first went to Romania 30 years ago and worked in an orphanage in Sibiu for several months. I was very excited to be returning after so many years and after years of professional experience working with vulnerable children in a range of different countries. Now I was able to support a charity that supports mothers to keep their children and also supports foster mothers to care for their foster children in loving homes.
Over the five days I carried out workshops with the charity staff and the mothers and foster mothers involved in both projects – introducing creative and expressive resources for supporting vulnerable children, and those who have suffered trauma. I also went on home visits to get a full picture of the situation that the children were living in.
Another visit involved taking clothing to a group of Ukrainian refugees who were being hosted in a school gymnasium prior to moving to a new centre. FICR offered two places to refugee mothers from this group onto their Abandonment Prevention project – so this was a really beneficial visit.
All of the resources that I took out were gratefully received by FICR. A primary school: Yeo Moor Primary School in Clevedon, North Somerset had raised £376 funds for the resources from a bake-sale and a fashion show held by the pupils. The resources were set up on a unit in the corner of the headquarters meeting room with the cushions beside it - transforming it into a play corner which could be used by the children when they are at the centre. This could also be developed further in the future into a toy and book library so that the children could have access to educational games and resources as well as books for early literacy skills. The resources included: finger puppets, hand puppets, calming toys, bubbles, dolls, moulding clay, sand, cutters and moulds for clay and sand, pencils, pens, crayons, paints, paper, scissors, glue, crafting items, pencil cases, rucksacks, cushions.
Some items were reserved and not put into the play corner as these were to be given out to each child’s mother to give to their child for the ‘Sfantul Nicolae’ (St Nicholas) celebration in Romania on the 5th /6th December – where children have items put into their boots by St Nicholas (similar to the Father Christmas tradition on 24th /25th December for children in the UK, and Santa Claus in the US). I learnt that this would be the first gifts that some children enrolled in FICR's projects would have had on this special celebration due to their family circumstances.
The charity staff: Ovidiu (Director), Simona (psychologist) and Emilia (social worker) along with Emilio (translator) made me feel so welcome over my time in Bucharest. I am truly grateful for their kindness and support over the five days with FICR. It was a total pleasure to meet the mothers and some of the children involved in both of the projects. I look forward to further liaising with Suzie and RICF regarding fundraising and supporting the FICR charity projects in the future.
Thanks so much to Emily. We really value being able to learn from her expertise and look forward to working with her more in her role as RICF volunteer. Thank you also to pupils and staff at Yeo Moor Primary School in Clevedon, North Somerset for their amazing effort raising £376 by organising a bake sale and fashion show.
Anniversary appeal update
Thank you to all those who gave in response to our 25th birthday appeal, and who got in touch with words of encouragement. In total we raised £1800, all in donations that were multiples of £25! We are also very pleased that a new donor started giving a regular monthly donation in response to our appeal. We are aware that many of our supporters give sacrificially and we are honoured to have the opportunity to put this money to work making a real difference in the lives of vulnerable children and families in Romania.
We do still need to find new regular donors to allow us to continue and grow our work, so if you do not already give, and would like to give to support our work, please do get in touch or see the donate section on our website. Regular donations can be for as little as £2 a month, and together they really do make a difference. One off donations are also very welcome.
Thanks to Ovidiu, Simona and Emilia
We are so grateful to our wonderful HQ team in Bucharest for all their hard work and love and compassion that they show to all those enrolled in our projects.
It is such a blessing to have a core team that work so well together and are so diligent and caring.
Project updates: 'O familie pentru mine' ('A Family for Me') Foster care project
FICR currently has eight girls aged between 12 and 19 years and five boys aged between 10 and 17 years, and their 11 foster carers, enrolled in this project.
In September one of the young men who had been in a foster placement with one of our foster carers for several years graduated from the programme as he is now 20 years old and his formal foster placement came to an end. However he is still very much part of the family and remains living with the same foster carer, and is being supported in finding work. His former foster carer has taken in a new 10 year old boy who has now been enrolled in the project and she will remain part of the foster carers' support group.
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!')
Currently all 13 mum and baby places available in this project are occupied, and we are really pleased that Simona (project facilitator and coordinator) and team have managed to continue recruiting suitable families to benefit from the support offered. Currently FICR is supporting five girls and eight boys with ages ranging between 5 months and 28 months.
It was exciting to hear from the team in Bucharest how well the mums and dads in this project engaged at the meeting with Emily in October; they enjoyed the session, and were really involved in the discussions and sharing of experiences. This was followed up at the November meeting, where they discussed how each family had managed to apply the new things they had learned in their own home situation. They also agreed that they would get back to regular discussions at each monthly meeting at the HQ, taking a different theme each time, starting in January.
We are again grateful to all our donors and to Remember Nhu for their support for this project.
Independent living and Professional development
Thanks so much to Emilia for the ongoing support she provides for the young people in FICR’s projects approaching adulthood, to help prepare them for independent living. Emilia gives advice about further education and career options, as well as advice on living arrangements, accommodation etc. 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. If they are moving into paid employment, FICR agrees with them a plan for withdrawing financial support as they become independent.
New toy library and board book library
I am looking forward to visiting Bucharest this spring, and bringing with me donated toys (left) for the FICR toy library, to add to toys and resources taken out by Emily in October. So far we have also received Romania £50 towards creating a board book library, for which we are very grateful. There are lots of board books available for young children in the Romanian language, like the one shown here.
Please do get in touch if you would like to make a contribution towards the new board book library. An additional £250 would mean we could have enough books for each child in the abandonment prevention project to have one book to read each week at home during their time enrolled in the project.
Thanks to all our supporters
Thank you once again to all those who support our work in Romania - without you none of this life-transforming work would be possible.