Rachel, our CEO, received Christmas goodies from the Chair of the parents association of Pangbourne College this week. The generosity from local businesses really does go along way in making Christmas special for our resident young people.
Thanks again to everyone who continue to support us and help us to bring positive change to the lives of our young people.
Christmas at Cornerstone
AWE help to make our young people's christmas extra special this year.
Michelle and Linda from AWE, photographed below, gave us 5 lovely big stockings that they had filled for our 4 residents and also one for our house supervisor.
Our young people were very excited and pleased to receive their gifts Christmas morning.
The Woodspeen Restaurant has very kindly offered their support with a budget cooking session in the cookery school for the residents and our support worker. On £15 a week for food, this is a challenge for anyone! They have also offered work experience or a voluntary position in the restaurant, cookery school and vegetable garden. What an amazing opportunity for our young people. (added 19/11/15).
Care leavers' housing poor say MPs: Too many care leavers live in unsuitable accommodation, MPs have warned. A report on the outcomes of young people leaving the care system by the Commons Public Accounts Committee was heavily critical of services and support. http://www.24dash.com/news/housing/2015-10-30-Care-leavers-housing-poor-say-MPs (added 3-11-15)
Watermill Theatre Outreach work: thanks to the Watermill Theatre for two recent sessions on personal growth / self-awareness and harmonious living. This covered in part how our attitudes and behaviours have an impact on those around us. The young people participated well and enthused about what they had learned. Added 2-11-15.
Poor support failing most vulnerable young people, say MPs.
The Public Accounts Committee says there has been a "systemic failing" in support to young people leaving foster care or children's homes. Its chair Meg Hillier MP says young adults are "let down by the system that's supposed to support them". The government says it is committed to improving the lives of care leavers. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/education-34667481
Care leavers 'cut adrift' due to poor-quality support: An inquiry by the public accounts select committee into the transition of care leavers into adulthood found there are “systemic weaknesses” in the provision of support they receive. The report points to the fact that inspections by Ofsted have found that two thirds of local authorities’ care leaver services are either "inadequate" or "require improvement", and there is no clear relationship between the amount spent and the quality of service. "The scale of variability in the quality and cost of support, and a lack of understanding of what causes this, show that this is a systemic issue, rather than a problem in just a few local authorities," the report states. The report also highlights problems around the Staying Put initiative, introduced in 2014, which allows young people in foster care to stay with their carer until they are 21. See more at http://www.cypnow.co.uk/cyp/news/1154523/care-leavers-cut-adrift-due-to-poor-quality-support (added 2-11-15)
Weather cancels play: we were due to be in Northbrook street with our stand on Friday 30th October. However, due to poor weather conditions, we decided that it would be best to cancel. Our apologies to anyone who had thought they might pop past and talk to us. Added 2-11-15.
Englefield Steam Rally: Our serving refreshments at Englefield to a group of steam enthusiasts went well. It was hard work but well worth it. We made and served home made soup, cakes, tea and coffee. Thank you to Richard Benyon for hosting the steam rally at Englefield and allowing us to serve refreshments to fund-raise. A huge thank you to all the steam enthusiasts for their donations. Also thanks to everyone who made soup, bread and cakes - we couldn't do this without your delicious contributions. A super day for everyone. Photos to follow. Added 28-10-15.
Pangbourne College Parent’s Association: The Bond-themed Ball on October 17th went really well and the monies made from the auction and the lucky envelope draw will come to us along with a percentage of whatever else we make during the year as we are their Charity of the Year. From the photos, they obviously had a V.I.P drop in past! Nice car, Mr Bond. Added 28-10-15.
Christmas Bazaar at Pangbourne College: December 5th in Drake Hall (10.30am to 2.30pm). Please support this great event as a proportion of the money raised will come to us. See below to download a flyer with more information. Added 28-10-15.
Birthday cake: Whether you are 9, 19 or 90, birthday cakes should be special, don't you think? A wonderful theatre-inspired cake was made for one of our residents by volunteer Niki at Freecakesnewbury (see their website at freecakesnewbury.org). Our young resident was delighted with it and got stuck right in. Thanks! Added 28-10-15.
Fostering information evenings with West Berkshire council are on 25 November 2015, 6pm to 9pm and again on 27 January 2016, 6pm to 9pm. For more details contact: firstname.lastname@example.org , 01635 503155
Royal Berkshire County Show - 2015: on a lovely September weekend, we were out with our stand featuring a teddy tombola and cakes for sale. Thanks to all the volunteers who made it all happen (see below), especially our Community Events Committee. Added 22-9-15.
£10,000 donation: Berkshire Community Foundation has taken our breath away yet again with another donation of £10,000 today. This is for running costs, which is always the hardest tranche of money for most small charities to find, yet often the most critical for the overall good governance of the charity. We are thrilled and grateful for their on-going support, especially as we work towards an expansion to support more young people locally. Added 21-9-15.
Achievements and positive outcomes come in all shapes & sizes: we are very pleased and proud that the young man who has been with us longest has just gained (Sept 2015) the LASER Level 1 Award for Learning, Employability and Progression (which is equivalent to working at NVQ1 and GCSE grades D to G). When he came to us three years ago he could not recognise the letters of the alphabet and was totally unable to read or write. He has twice weekly sessions with a volunteer who has specialised in helping young people with literacy issues and thrice-weekly one-to-one reading sessions with our Live-In House Supervisor. What an achievement this is for him! Added 17-9-15.
Another young resident leaves for University: On Saturday, the second of our young university-bound residents left us to start his new life as a Conservation student at Reading University. This young man has been with us two years and we have seen him mature and develop to the point where he could take this step. We know that without this 'breathing space' with us, his future would have been somewhat different. Proud doesn't begin to cover how we all feel here. Added 21-9-15.
Lorraine is coming back to work for us: thanks to fund-raising by Pangbourne Parent's Association, a grant from Thatcham Town Council and our own Community Events Committee, plus Greenham Common Trust's Top-Up scheme through Find-me-a-Grant, we are delighted to welcome back part-time a previous support worker, Lorraine. Lorraine has many years experience and skills in working with disadvantaged young people. Amongst a host of other duties, she will be helping new residents establish themselves and settle into Cornerstone, helping them find work etc. Added 17-9-15.
We are finalists at the West Berkshire Business Awards: we are all pretty excited here to have been selected as one of four finalists in the West Berkshire Business Awards. A gala evening is on the 16th October 2015 at Newbury Racecourse during which the winner will be announced. A cash raffle is organised with money raised on the night going to the ultimate winner of the West Berkshire Council Charityand Community Award category. See more information at http://www.westberkshirebusinessawards.co.uk/
Christmas Appeal 2015: Could you donate some toiletries, dried or preserved food items, jams & honey, herb & spice jars, vouchers, very simple cookery books, towels, bed-linen for single beds, socks, board games, comedy or film DVDs suitable for no older than age 15, 6x4" picture frames, non-alcoholic 'fizz', a few Christmas crackers etc are most welcome (no alcohol, please and email us for other ideas)? Currently, we expect to have one young man and three young ladies but if we get our second house by then we may have more young people. Why do we need Christmas donations? Christmas is one of the hardest times of year for our young people. For most of them, throughout their childhood, Christmas will have been a time of disappointment, perhaps conflict and a reminder of their less than ideal living circumstances. Our residents may have no other homes, parents or family to go to on Christmas Day and sadly watch from the sidelines as others excitedly buy presents for family and make plans to go home. At Young People & Children 1st, we try to support them as best we can during that time. We encourage them to make Christmas gifts to teach them the pleasure of giving, not just receiving, and that hand-made gifts cost little and are often more appreciated by the person receiving them anyway. We try to help them re-capture the excitement and pleasure of Christmas because it's never too late to make happy memories. Pangbourne Parent's Association have kindly offered to start off our appeal with donations again this year. Thank you. Added 17-9-15.
Pangbourne Parent's Association support us for another year of fund-raising: we were over-whelmed this week to receive not only a donation of £1,000 from the PPA - see article opposite - but also to learn that their Committee had voted unanimously to support us for another year of fund-raising. We feel humbled that, with so many worthy local causes to support, the Pangbourne College parents are supporting us again. Thank to all involved. (added 17-9-15).
Pangbourne Parent's Association donate £1,000: Having fund-raised for us through late 2014 to present, the Pangbourne College Parent's Association have just donated an amazing £1,000 to us via Find-me-a-Grant to help fund as support worker for a year. Thanks to Greenham Common Trust's Top-Up scheme, the final sum to us is £2,000. We are so appreciative of their support and are delighted to say that we have a support worker all lined up ready to start work. Thank you to all who fund-raised. (added 17-9-15).
Off to University today: By 9:15am this morning, our young resident was packed, room cleaned and in the car just like thousands of other bright young things across the country as they all get ready to start the next stage of their young lives at University. We feel excited and proud for him and wish him all the luck for a bright future. We will be keeping in touch from time to time. Now that is what we call a positive outcome! Added 16-9-15.
Winter Warming Fund-Raising Walk - There will be a 3K fund-raising walk organised by Waitrose taking place on Sunday 11th October to raise money for our Charity and another local Charity called Loose Ends. The walk starts at 4;30pm and will start and finish at Waitrose Newbury, Oxford Road. The entry donation will be £7 for Adults and £3 for Children to be paid on the day. For other donations or more info then call Catherine Knight on 01635 552061.Spread the word, tell your friends and family and bring them along with you so we can raise money and support these two local small charities to make a difference to the Children and Homeless people that they support and the Community. (Added 15-9-15)
Welcome to a new volunteer: Sheryl comes to us with substantial skills in social media and will be helping us to make the most of our profile on Facebook and Twitter especially. She is enthusiastic about our work and we are delighted to have her on board advising us. (Added 16-9-15)
We are recruiting for an Operations Development Executive! For more information on this exciting opportunity with us go to our Current Job Vacancies page for more information.
Children's Minister, Edward Timpson has appointed a private firm to oversee improvements at West Berkshire children’s services department following a poor Ofsted inspection earlier this year. A letter from Timpson toWest Berkshire Council said the council must work with Exploring Choices, to agree an improvement plan by 25 September. "The plan should drive continuous and sustainable improvement in the areas identified in the Ofsted 2015 report and the plan should be grounded in an understanding of the needs of children, young people and families," theletter states.
For full article go to: http://www.cypnow.co.uk/cyp/news/1153380/timpson-appoints-private-firm-to-tackle-failings-in-west-berkshire (added 9-9-15).
Off to University this week! We are so proud to launch one of our young residents into his new life as an undergraduate Sociology student at a presigious University. By way of thanks to those who have supported him best, he cooked them a delicious paella with salad and some fizz. What better an outcome can we achieve for this bright young thing? We have helped him achieve his dream and given him his future. Pictured here with Valerie, one of our newest volunteers, who has helped him to hone his budget cooking skills in preparation for student living. Added 9-9-15.
WINNERS! Best Newcomer at Thatcham Allotment Gardening Club. Thatcham Mayor, Mrs Sheila Ellison presented us with the cup and certificate. Our young resident is a keen gardener, often spending weekends down the allotment digging, planting and building and was delighted to receive this recognition for all his hard work. By their smiles, Patsy & John were equally pleased methinks! Added 9-9-15.
Newbury's Southby's allotments Open Day: on a beautiful sunny summer day we were invited to have our stand at the allotment's open day and raised £108.15. Pictured are John Stone (centre) with Chris Lawrence, Chairman (left) and Ian Thurgate.
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