Summer Fun and Fundraising for Balsam

Balsam Family Picnic at Edmunds Park
 The sun shone brightly on 11th July for our annual summer get together. Balsam members met at Edmunds Park and enjoyed fun, food and fellowship.
July picnic kids in sand 4web

SOHA Launchpad event

 Balsam Family Project attended an event at the Cornerstone Didcot where SOHA Housing brought together charitable organisations in the area. We had an opportunity to network and promote the activities of Balsam. Did you miss our interview on ‘That’s Oxford’ TV? Click on the link below.
Sadie Speaks at The Butterfly Lunch
Sadie Gibbons, previous Balsam Promotions and Fundraising Coordinator, would like to say a huge thank you to all those who donated to Balsam so generously at the 10 year remembrance of Elizabeth (Lizy) Cross. In her memory, Lizy’s family and friends have been supporting the project since its very beginning in partnership with Bright Horizons, the nursery that Lizy (pictured below) worked for. Bright Horizons has also continued to be very active supporters of the project and Balsam has greatly benefited from this partnership.
     In August Sadie was asked to share an up-date on Balsam at an event in Lizy’s memory, which had double significance for her as she is also one of Lizy’s cousins. “Her young life was so full of love for her family, her friends and the children she cared for, and I have seen that same unconditional love in the dedicated volunteers of Balsam Family Project.  I know that the Balsam team are so touched by the support they’ve received in her memory. “
     Following this event, donations continued to come in and totalled £700! Thank you so much to all those who have supported Balsam, and especially to Lizy’s parents, Sue and Jon Cross who have been such faithful ambassadors of the project over the years.
Lizy Cross


We have just received these two letters of thanks from grateful clients.  It is letters like these that are so encouraging and rewarding for Balsam volunteers and staff.


Thankyou Jan 2014 Anon

To the Balsam Trust

You will never quite know how much blessed and how grateful we were to receive a ‘hamper’ at Christmas. We were financially in despair as had just come off Job Seekers before starting a new job but not getting paid for 4 weeks. It was full of yummies that we could not afford.

So please accept our real heartfelt thanks, it really made our Christmas.

Thank you so much.




Thankyou Jan 2014 from anonDear Alex

Thank you for Balsam’s courses. I found out that I’am a good mum and quite a nice person.  And also, being a mum is a very important thing and I should be proud of it. I really am.  I also understood few things about myself.  It helped me with my relationship.  Now, I see myself in a different light. Thank you very much. I hope we will keep in touch.

Yours sincerely



The start of the Summer College Term is 28 April with three families following the Parenting and Home Management Level 1 course.  The half-term break is from 26 May and the course recommences on 2 June.


IMG_7466s Easter 2014

Many of our families enjoyed our Easter Celebration with a pizza lunch.




IMG_7479s Easter 2014

Joy Locke from Didcot Ridgeway Church entertained the children with a puppet show telling the Easter Story. Mayor Axel MacDonald presented certificates to families who had graduated from their Level 1 parenting course.


The children then took part in an Easter egg hunt with IMG_7500s Easter 2014eggs generously provided by Bright Horizons.



We have benefitted greatly fromIMG_5936 Mayor Axel MacDonald being one of Didcot Mayor Axel MacDonald’s chosen ‘Charity of the Year’.  We are grateful to both him and his wife for all their support for Balsam Family Project over the past year.


The Sponsored Swim at the Didcot Wave Leisure Pool in February raised over £650 and was a great opportunity for families to be actively involved in fundraising while having fun together.


Our volunteers raised a magnificent £655.33 by assisting customers with their bag-packing at Sainsburys, Didcot last Saturday.  Included in this total is £39.88 raised by the “Balsam Buskers”, Polly and Jesse who played and sang in the store entrance, adding a welcome musical dimension to the day.


A big THANKYOU to all our volunteers, including members of Didcot Girls’ Brigade, Wallingford Ridgeway Youth Group and the National Citizen Service.  We are so grateful to all the customers for their generosity, and especially to Sainsbury’s for giving us this opportunity.

Balsam at Soul in Didcot


Soul in Didcot logo 2


Social Action Days:  during the week Christians from Churches Together Didcot and District will be working for the community on various projects: whether its painting fences, cleaning or gardening, the focus is on working together to serve the community.

Community Fun Afternoon:  on Sunday 27th 2-6pm, this is a free afternoon for all ages: there will be all kinds of fun activities, a community art project, organized games and music marquee, there will be opportunities for people to think about faith (through prayer spaces, and a church service) and have someone to talk to (through the ‘listening sofa’, Street Pastors and the Cafe).  Balsam Family Project will also be there hosting a “Toddler Tent” for families with children under 5, for soft-play, bouncy-castle and toddle-crafts, parents can sit down and chat to Balsam staff while their children play in a space dedicated to under 5s.  Please contact us if you are able to help with setting up of the marquee and equipment!

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A great day with Soul-in-Didcot

After a week of working hard in the community Didcot & district churches came together on Sunday 27th July to put on a fantastic event for all ages. There was free food, sports, drama, music, craft activities, and spaces for chatting and for prayer. We were very pleased to be a part of the day putting on a Balsam Toddler Tent with soft play, toys, bouncy castle and crafts.

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It was lovely to meet new families and share about our work and also to support the work of the local churches that have such a heart for the community.   Our Balsam Family Tree (below) was made up of hand prints of our families from our weekly Family Day.  Children coloured in pictures or words to represent families and we hung them on the tree!

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Thank you to volunteers from Cholsey Church and SiD who helped us set-up, and to the Didcot Baptist Church for the loan of their soft-play equipment, and of course to our faithful Balsam Volunteers who came out once again and enthusiastically gave their time to help make it such a wonderful day.

Didcot Summer Fayre


Didcot summer Fayre 2014    On the 19th July we joined with local charity and community groups at the Didcot Summer Fayre to raise awareness about our work and serve the local community.  We had an amazing Face-paint artist at our stall, Teresa, who worked extremely hard all day and proved very popular! We were able to raise £81.65 and meet some great people from various groups such as Oxfordshire Mind, Soha and Style Acre.  Thanks to all those who helped run our stall and those who came to visit us!

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