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19th September, 2017

Penny Appeal on the ground in Sana’a, Yemen

Food parcels and hygiene kits distributed to cholera and famine victims

 

Distribution in Yemen

 

Penny Appeal emergency response teams are on the ground in Yemen, responding to the ongoing humanitarian crisis, with famine and cholera specific aid being delivered.

 

The project’s objectives are two-fold, to improve the food security for 100 of the most vulnerable families in Sana’a City, and to participate in controlling the wider cholera epidemic through aid distribution.

 

Due to the alarming deterioration in countrywide food security in Yemen and the problematic spread of cholera in the country, aid is desperately needed.

 

Much of Yemen’s infrastructure has been destroyed in the ongoing civil war, with capacity to treat and prevent the spread of cholera almost completely falling on NGOs and outside aid.

 

The humanitarian aid is being distributed in Sana’a City’s poorest neighbourhoods, with Sho’ob and Bani Al-Harest districts, in which the cholera epidemic is at its most potent.

 

Food parcels delivered contain flour, rice, cooking oil, beans, sugar and tomato sauce. The hygiene kits contain, amongst other items; soap, toothpaste and toothbrushes, water purification tablets and detergent.

 

Hygiene kits have been delivered to poor families who previously fetched water from public tanks, which were most likely contaminated. Community-based volunteers bore the brunt of the distribution efforts, with special care taken to ensure aid was coordinated efficiently to reach those most in need.

 

Food distribution took place in a designated yard, wherein families were asked to bring appropriate documents, to crosscheck against existing databases to ensure all those who received aid were eligible.

 

Figures from the end of June reported that well over 200,000 people in Yemen were affected by cholera, with an estimated 5,000 new cases daily. 

14th September, 2017

Statement from third sector and independent providers on the reporting of ‘Christian child placed into Muslim foster care'

 

On Monday 28th August, The Times published a story titled ‘Christian child forced into Muslim foster care’. The story was highly critical of the foster carers, the fostering service and in particular the idea that a white Christian child should be placed with a Muslim foster family. The story has since been found to be inaccurate in many respects.

 

As organisations which work with highly vulnerable children as well as foster carers, we are concerned about the potentially detrimental impact of this article on the child in question, the foster carers, the birth parents and others involved directly with the child, as well as on the wider fostering sector. 

 

We find the nature of the reporting to be divisive and concerned with sensationalism rather than ethical reporting. The comment sections of many papers following the story showed a worrying level of vitriol from those who took the details of the article at face value. Unfortunately many of the people who read those initial headlines will no longer be following this story and will have made up their minds about the sector, how it is decided which foster family a child should live with, and perhaps of Muslim foster carers in general, something that we consider to be desperately sad and unfair.

 

Ethnicity and religion are two very important factors that are taken into account when a child is placed with a foster family. They are, however, only two of a vast range of needs; for example, if a child has complex disabilities or presents with challenging behaviour, these needs will take priority over religious or ethnic matching. There is no set hierarchy of needs that must be met when placing a child with a foster family; instead each child will have their own personalised hierarchy of needs which will be considered when placing that child with a foster family.

 

As a result, many fostered children are placed with foster families with different religions and ethnicities. These foster carers go to great lengths to meet all of the identified needs of children in their care, including helping them to understand their birth culture and religion, and will be trained and supported to do this. None of the realities of fostering were addressed in the article, which has led to a highly biased and negative portrayal of the fostering sector.

 

We would also like The Times and related publications to note that hundreds of Muslim foster carers open their homes to both Muslim and non-Muslim children every year. These carers vary in terms of how they practice their religion, as do all carers of any faith group. Foster carers, whether Muslim or non-Muslim,  work extremely hard in caring for children who are going through challenging times and as such, they are owed a great deal of respect and gratitude. It is wholly unacceptable that one of these fostering families was denigrated by The Times and related press outlets. We would encourage and welcome news outlets to use their resources to work with us to improve society, particularly for the most vulnerable, and to give credit to good work where it is due.

 

Signatories

Further signatories are welcome – to add names to the list please contact Penny Appeal 

  1. Penny Appeal: Tay Jiva, Adoption and Fostering Manager (and statement coordinator)
  2. The Fostering Network: Kevin Williams, Chief Executive, The Fostering Network
  3. CoramBAAF (the British Association of Adoption and Fostering): John Simmonds OBE, Director of Policy, Research and Development
  4. Nationwide Association of Fostering Providers: Harvey Gallagher, Chief Executive
  5. Become (charity for children in care and young care leavers): Natasha Finlayson, Chief Executive
  6. UK Fostering (independent fostering provider): Tim McArdle, Head of Placement and Recruitment. 
  7. Acorn House (independent fostering provider): Gail Hopkins, Director
  8. AFA Fostering (independent fostering provider): Graeme Duncombe and Nigel Pickering, Directors
  9. Children Always First (independent fostering provider): Julie Elliott, Responsible Individual
  10. Swap Foster Care (independent fostering provider): Roy Walker, Registered Manager
  11. TACT (The Adolescent and Children’s Trust - independent fostering provider): Laura Luxton, Communications Manager
  12. Eastern Fostering Services (independent fostering provider): Eleanor Vanner, Director.

30th August, 2017

Penny Appeal’s Adoption & Fostering Manager urges potential fostering families not to be ‘deterred’ by Times article

Fostering article viewed with ‘great deal of scepticism’ in professional circles

 

In wake of The Times’ article published on Monday 28th of August, entitled 'Christian child forced into Muslim foster care', Penny Appeal’s Adoption and Fostering Manager, Tay Jiva has urged any potential foster families not to be ‘deterred’ by the potential negative influence of the article which has had its accuracy brought into question.

 

Speaking to Nomia Iqbal on the BBC’s Asian Network’s Big Debate show, Tay was keen to underline the way in which the article had been viewed in professional fostering and adoption quarters, saying, “The majority of experienced social workers and foster carers are going to view this article with great scepticism.”

 

The article, which leads with an evocative headline, by contrasting the two religions in an opening salvo that eschews concrete evidence from a situation in which many factors ‘allegedly occurred’, deigns to paint fostering and adoption in a negative light in Britain. Tay explains that this is not the case. In any fostering and adoption case, she was keen to highlight an exhaustive process that comes before any approved adoption or fostering of a child. She Said, “We assess any applicants for fostering and adoption, before referring them onto 600 adoption and fostering advisors who will also carry out ‘layers’ of their own checks.”

 

Tay also discussed with Nomia the use of the word ‘allegedly’ in the article, “the key thing to bear in mind for this article is allegedly, a lot of this is allegedly”. This sentiment seems to resonate in other areas of the media, as the Guardian reports that “the five-year-old had in fact been placed with an English-speaking family of mixed race.” And the council responsible for the placement, Tower Hamlets, also confirmed that there were ‘errors’ in the original reporting of the ‘highly sensitive’ case, which was initially only a ‘temporary’ measure, the council confirms.

 

Brought into question most vividly is the difference in language between the child and their fosterers, this issue has been highlighted by the article in a case that is said to be unusual, and highly irregular in foster care in Britain. Tay explains that “one of the questions on our assessment is about language, it’s about English, do both applicants speak English reasonably well? If either applicant doesn’t speak English well, then we suggest to them that they need to learn English to a good enough standard to engage in training.” She went on to say that, “for fostering and adoption there’s comprehensive assessments and training, it’s rigorous and detailed, to engage in that your English has to be reasonably good.”

 

On the BBC Asian Network station, Tay went on to say that, she understood why people might be deterred from fostering and adoption, “the reason people might be put off is because it adds fuel to the fire of discrimination.” And although such incidents should be reported, perhaps reporting it to the proper institutions would be more prudent, due to the sensitivity of the case. “Absolutely, it should be reported. Does it need to be reported to The Times? No. It needs to be reported to social care.”

29th August, 2017

Ebrahim Rasool pays a visit to Penny Appeal’s Head Office

Former Premier of Western Cape Province, South Africa was invited by Chairman Adeem Younis

 

The Ambassador shares an anecdote

 

A prominent South African politician who served as the South African Ambassador to the United States paid a welcome visit to Penny Appeal’s Head Office in Wakefield.

 

The diplomat, who also served as Executive Council for Health and Social Services in the Western Cape from 1994 to 1998 and won a Kaiser Foundation Nelson Mandela Award for Health and Human Rights in 1997, was invited by Penny Appeal Chairman Adeem Younis.

 

Ebrahim came to see the inner-workings of Penny Appeal’s offices to understand in more detail how our charity work is carried out, and to glean information regarding the wider implications of our operational work.

 

The Ambassador also participated in a staff Q & A session, sharing his wisdom on leadership, faith and dealing with adversity. His valuable insight was based on experiences and knowledge gained from his time before he was in prison with Nelson Mandela, throughout that episode, and from his extensive political career. During the Q & A the Ambassador shared a number of anecdotes that inspired staff and his opinion on the life-transforming work that we do at Penny Appeal.

 

 

On a recent trip to South Africa, Adeem struck an accord with Ebrahim, and after great interest invited the former Premier to visit Penny Appeal in England as part of a wider planned visit of the UK.

25th August, 2017

Penny Appeal makes a stir at the UK’s biggest ever Halal Food Festival

Foodie event in London draws crowds of thousands over two days

 

Penny and volunteer

 

London’s biggest ever Halal Food Festival enjoyed measured success on the 19th and 20th of August at the Tobacco Dock in East London.

 

The festival is the largest of its kind in the UK and played host to cuisine from all over the world with 100 international exhibitors present, with thousands of visitors enjoying the festivities and the lip-smacking food on offer - it was deemed a remarkable success.

 

#TeamOrange attended the festival in aid of Penny Appeal’s Thirst Relief programme, to raise money for people in need of clean water solutions in the developing world.

 

Team Orange volunteers

 

#TeamOrange volunteers offered freshly squeezed orange juice of which around 1,500 cups sold; slushies, orange themed jalebis and candyfloss also proved popular with revellers. The volunteers provided information on Penny Appeal’s Thirst Relief project to curious visitors.  

 

Live cooking demonstrations took place in the cookery theatre, with a number of different chefs offering valuable insights and mouth-watering displays that got visitors’ tongues tingling.  

 

The festival also played host to a unique Man vs Food - Halal Eat Offs competition, a ‘world-class’ burger tasting lounge and a chillout area & mocktail bar. 

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