PACT (Parents And Children Together) is a charity organisation that every year helps hundreds of families across London and the south of England. It provides outstanding adoption and therapeutic support, as well as running community projects supporting vulnerable children and adults, affected by issues such as domestic abuse, homelessness or debt.
Emma Owen, Head of Marketing and Fundraising, gives us an insight into the challenges facing PACT, and work they’re involved in, including a look at some of the innovative ways their supporters have helped raise money for this worthy cause.
1. Can you tell us how PACT was formed and how it has evolved?
It all began in 1911 when the Bishop of Oxford had the idea of setting up an organisation to support the most needy and vulnerable families in his diocese. The Oxford Diocesan Council for Social Work was launched, although at that time it was just one lady visiting families on a bike! Today PACT might be a much larger concern, but our mission remains the same. As well as providing adoption support, we also run a community project for vulnerable women including those at risk of entering the criminal justice system and a programme for children who’ve witnessed, or been affected by, domestic abuse.
2. What is a typical day for you and your team?
A lot of the time our focus is on raising money for our work. So we might be applying for grants from trusts or supporting people who are fundraising – doing things like running the London Marathon or holding a cake sale in their office. On the marketing side, we’ll also be trying to recruit new people who might consider adoption. We do that through a mix of events, advertising and social media, which all help us to reach out and connect with these people.
3. Has social media changed how you work?
Yes it has, because it’s how people want to find out information now – and it’s the beauty of sharing. We recently created a short film about a little boy called Robert who was looking for a family, and shared that on social media. The story was picked up by the BBC and got viewed over 20,000 times – that’s 20,000 people who might potentially consider adopting, either now or in the future. I think social media is a great way of getting our name out there.
4. What are the biggest risks you face as a charity?
We’re competing with so many other deserving causes, for essentially very little funding. So much of our work is dependent on fundraising and that’s very tricky. We have to remember that there’s only a finite amount of money to go around. Of course we use volunteers wherever we can, but it still takes a lot of time and money to do anything.
5. What is the biggest challenge for PACT?
Although funding is probably our biggest challenge, we’re also facing changes in the adoption sector that will impact on us greatly. The current plan is to regionalise adoption services at a local authority level. That means we’ll need to be ready to work alongside these new regional services in order to find families for the children in their care. It’s always slightly difficult, because our role is to find the families, but when it comes to the children, the decision is down to the local authority.
6. What do you look for in a broker?
We’ve been working with Jelf now for almost five years and we’ve developed a great relationship with them. I think when it comes to a broker, we’re looking for someone who is open, friendly and able to make everything straightforward for us. More than anything, we want to know that they have our best interests at heart.
7. What fun ways have people raised money for PACT?
We’re always amazed at the innovative ideas people have to raise money for us! We’ve had brave souls doing skydives, people doing a sponsored rowing machine challenge, shaving their heads and playing pool tournaments. But probably the most impressive has to be our Chief Executive who abseiled down the tower of Dorchester Abbey!
8. What are the future plans for PACT?
The regionalisation project is the big thing for us at the moment and we’ll just have to journey through that and see where it takes us. But all the time, we’ll be looking for new adopters, because there are still so many children out there that need a family. We know there are older children, those with additional needs, ethnic minorities and also sibling groups of perhaps three or four children who need to find families – so that’s what we’ll be focussing on.
9. What advice would you give to newer charities?
I would say be very clear about who you’re trying to help and what needs you’re trying to meet. It’s also really important to be transparent and flexible – as well as totally accountable at all times. But probably more than anything else, I think essentially, it’s about having the passion to succeed.
10. If you had one wish, what would it be?
That’s simple. My wish would be that all children could have the chance to experience the love and stability that they all deserve – and have the opportunity to reach their own potential.
PACT has been a client of Jelf for a number of years and has built up a trusted relationship with Account Executive, Adam Jeffs.
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