Balsam Update May 2016

Encouraging News!
Early this year it became clear that Balsam needed an injection of finance if it was to remain viable. Thanks to the enormous generosity of all who have given financial support, we now have funds which mean we are secure for the next 12-15 months!  We are so grateful to our faithful friends and supporters who have stood by Balsam, over the last few difficult months, and to those who recently gave time to discuss fundraising options with us, resulting in many interesting suggestions for us to explore.
We are grateful for all that Fiona Scott Brennan has achieved, over the past 8 months, as a paid employee, in her role as Promotions and Fundraising Co-ordinator, and for her continuing to work on a voluntary basis for some time each week. Fiona has been successful in bringing in some great volunteers to join the Balsam team.Now we look forward with excitement to the prospect of three new trustees with an amazing range of skills, experience and insights to contribute to the leadership of the Balsam Family Project.
Balsam Office has a New Home!
On 23 April Balsam Family Project moved from Harwell to new premises at The Annexe, 191 Broadway, Didcot OX11 8RU.  A BIG THANK YOU to Paul Luper (Roxy’s dad) and Roxy Thorp for having our office in their house, rent free, over the last few years. Our move went so smoothly with the help of Paul, Alex, Fiona, Rob and three good men from Ladygrove Church.  Many many thanks to  Tim Sugar from Ridgway Community Church for providing the van, and to Jane and Fiona for cleaning the new office beforehand.  Thanks also to Julie, our new ‘landlady’ for opening her home and blessing Balsam once more with rent free office space.  Finally, thanks and praise to the Lord for how well everything went.  We are grateful to Paul who gave his time to help Balsam set up a network.
Networking with other Organisations
Balsam continues to build links with Doorsteps, OCVA (Oxfordshire Community Voluntary Association), The Children’s Trust Board, and the Local Authority – to work collaboratively to provide families in Oxfordshire with support.
OCVA Award
On Wednesday 11 May Balsam representatives attended the OCVA awards in Oxford.Roxy Thorp, one of our key volunteers, has just been given an award for all her commitment and work with the families Balsam serves.  CONGRATULATIONS Roxy!  Well deserved!  You are such a gift to us all! Roxy has been part of the Balsam family for over five years, actively involved in so many ways – supporting and encouraging families, currently running Family Days and craft activities et al at College Creche, and Office Manager for much of this time.  Roxy is one of those fabulous people who are always there when you need them, ever-ready to do whatever’s needed and doing it well.
 Bagpacking Fundraising
We are so grateful to Sainsbury’s Didcot for allowing us to offer bag packing services to their customers and to the generosity of customers and a GREAT team of Balsam volunteers who helped to raise the FANTASTIC total of £602.08 on 30 April.  The publicity this gives to a small local charity is so valuable, giving us the opportunity to meet families interested in parenting courses, as well as people who have gone on to become regular Balsam supporters or volunteers.
Balsam College News

“Is there another Course following this one?  We’d really like to do that too. It’s been really helpful, full of practical ideas”. (Quote from a participant in Balsam’s NEWEST COURSE – see below:

This term has seen the exciting launch of a new 5 week Refresher/Taster’ Courseat Balsam College for those who have done Level 1 ‘Parenting & Home Management’ Course and Level 2 ‘Personal Growth & Development’ Course’; or new people who want to come along and get a taste of what the Courses are like.  We pray they will then go on to do the other Level Courses.  Currently, there are six people doing this new Course, one of these having rearranged another commitment to come along because she enjoyed the first week so much!  We are grateful for Melanie and Leanne, who have joined the Crecheteam, who ably run this and prepare craft activities related to the theme of the day, for the parents and children to do together, when parents return from their teaching time.

This has followed on from the Level 2 course that ran from January to March and was greatly appreciated by the three who did it.  They asked “Is there another Course following this one?  We’d really like to do that too. It’s been really helpful, full of practical ideas”.  Please pray for sufficient interest to run a second ‘Refresher/Taster’ Course in the second half of term.

Family Days
Venue:  Didcot Methodist Church on Thursday mornings 10 – 11.45 am.
A typical Family Day –  Everyone is warmly welcomed, and then down to the important task of playing!  This could be making the sounds of the animals in the farm or zoo; drinking endless cups of pretend tea in the play kitchen; building an incredible structure with building blocks; making a joyful noise with instruments; listening to a story; parking the cars in the garage; rolling and squashing play doh and much more.There’s usually an activity for parent and child to work on together. Some recent ones have been: making a nest for an Easter chick; colouring, cutting and sticking a Mother’s Day card; decorating bottles and filling them with beads to make music shakers.
Family Days always include lots of chatting – sometimes about last night’s TV, but more often about family, life and parenting.  Recently one of our mum’s was sharing about the problem she was having getting her teenage son to school, and another about her concerns over her sons development. You know at Family Day there will always be someone to talk to about the niggles and issues all parents have – someone to listen and offer support. We try to run Family Days throughout the year, including school holidays, to always give our families the routine and support they need.
New volunteers are always needed and very welcome – to make drinks, chat with adults, read a story, assist with a craft activity or just play with children.  Volunteers arrive at 9.15 to set up the toys, activities and refreshments ready for the families who arrive at 10.00 am; then after a final cuppa (and maybe even a sneaky biscuit!) it’s time to tidy everything away, say goodbye and head home at 11.45 am.  If YOU are interested in joining the team, or just coming along to see what’s going on, please contact Roxy on 07984 641466
There are always lots of opportunities for volunteering with Balsam:
  •  COMMUNITY FAMILY FRIENDS – 6 MEN or WOMEN
    currently needed to support families who’ve participated in a College Course.  NEXT TRAINING COMING UP SOON  
    Contact: Alex Walker (Project Manager)
    Tel: 07799 894410 email:  info@balsamfamilyproject.co.uk HELP NEEDED AT COLLEGE OR FAMILY DAYS to:  
    set-up, serve refreshments, chat or help with craft activities – any or all of these skills! 
  • BALSAM FAMILY COLLEGE at Didcot Methodist Church
    Mondays and Tuesdays
    (9.15 am to 2.45 pm)
    Contact: Alex (as above)
  • FAMILY DAYS onThursdays (9.45–11.45 am) at Didcot Methodist 
    Contact: Roxy on 07984 641466
    or email roxy@balsamfamilyproject.co.uk FOR MORE INFO ABOUT BALSAM:  www.balsamfamilyproject.co.uk