Capstone Foster Care News

Our Devon Team, based in Kingsteignton, wanted to donate Christmas goods to a local charity who help and support local families living in poverty. There are several areas in Devon that are in the top 10 most deprived areas of the country, including Teignbridge and Buckland and Milber.

A local charity called Teignbridge Homeless Action Today (THAT) is tackling the local issue and we decided to support them. We met up with a local volunteer, Margaret, and here is what she had to say:

“We aim to assist the people who come to us by supplying them with essential items such as food, toiletries and furniture. We also provide internet and computer access, and offer advice and a place to chat. 

As well as helping members of the community with issues that need immediate attention, we also strive to ensure those who we support have fewer problems in the future by working together to address the underlying issues that are causing the problem and we take steps to minimise them.”

Karen Winser, Marketing Co-ordinator at Capstone took along a hamper to THAT which was put together by Capstone Staff. Here she is telling us more about it:




1 in 5 people in the UK are living in below the poverty line. There are 2.3 million children living in poverty in this country and 63% of these are in a family in which someone works. Charities like THAT are important to communities where poverty levels are high, as they aim to provide individuals and families living in poor conditions with much-needed support whilst working to eradicate deprivation and poverty.
Below are the types of items which are offered at THAT:

  • Various kinds of food packs
  • Toiletry packs
  • Home start packs
  • Fruit and veg vouchers
  • Free open access computer
  • CAB Information
  • Referrals to others who can help
  • A friendly chat and a cup of tea

THAT receive donations in the form of money, food and home essentials from the public and Partner Organisations , people in need can then obtain a voucher from THAT or one of their Partner Organisations and can bring it to their premises and exchange it for the required items. Their services can be used by anyone who is in need of food whether homeless or not, or by support workers who take food to the people they support.  If you would like more information about how THAT can help you, please don’t hesitate to get in touch. 

There are many children and families who need help in so many ways. One way to support children and families is to become a foster carer. If you are interested in fostering, please contact us to register your interest and find out more information.

As well as a happy time, Christmas can be an emotional time for looked after children. It can bring up many emotions for them and this can mean that children can struggle to manage their emotions and their behaviour can deteriorate. There are some simple things that foster carers can do to try and help looked after children cope during this traditional family time. In turn, this will also help to create a happier Christmas for all…

1. Talk about Christmas

A child in care may have never had their own Christmas stocking or a tree or gifts. They may never have had a Christmas like your own and it’s important for them to understand what is going to happen. Explain your attitude toward Christmas and discuss with them their experiences of Christmas. Be ready to hear about their Christmases and encourage them to share good memories of Christmases past. Let them know that their way of doing Christmas can be integrated into yours.

2. Write a letter to Santa

Most children will do this at home or at school, and this will help a child to confirm that Santa knows where they are going to be if this is their first Christmas with you.

3. Expect this time of year to be really emotional

Consider this time of year to be emotional for the children and young people you support especially for some children who may not be able to see their family or may be worried for the welfare of parents or siblings. The emphasis on Christmas might make some children feel like outsiders in their foster home. It’s a delicate situation and a real effort should be made to ensure that the child feels treated on a par with the other children in the household.

4. Maintain routine where possible

Children thrive on routine and maintaining this will help children to cope. If a routine cannot be maintained, organise and arrange a Christmas calendar ahead of each activity to help the young people to prepare. Talk through any worries and coping strategies for those circumstances which you know young people struggle. It’s always important to ask them what they may like to do and who they would like to see.

5. Lots of visitors can be overwhelming

Until you know your young person well and how they cope it can be better to limit visitors to manageable levels. If you include friends in your festivities, talk about them to the children you support. The more they know about who will be visiting, the less difficult it will be for them to relax amongst strangers.

6. Alcohol can seem scary

Think about children who have witnessed the misuse of alcohol and drugs. This could cause anxieties for children if they are aware people will be drinking at home. To avoid children from getting scared prepare them with the concept that people may drink alcohol and this will be done in a respectful and responsible manner.

7. Children might not feel comfortable to receive gifts

Children who have not had much experience of Christmas and presents may find lots of presents and attention too much pressure for them. To help, spread out present giving. It doesn’t matter if presents are still being opened over the Christmas holiday.
Avoid putting pressure on children to react in the ‘right’ way. Children in care often have feelings of unworthy and undeserving this makes it really hard for them to accept praise, gifts and rewards.

8. Arrange a visit for the child to see their family

Organise contact with parents and siblings as close to Christmas day as possible. A lack of contact over Christmas might cause a child in care to worry about their parents, grandparents or siblings. By working closely with a child’s social worker, a phone call on Christmas day might be arranged, and the child’s birth family can support a child to enjoy Christmas, without worrying about them or feeling guilty.

9. Think about diversity and a child’s own tradition

Respect a child’s culture and diversity. Celebrate their customs and religions as well as your own. Try to include something from the foster child’s own ‘Christmas traditions’. There is likely to be something they did at home that is important to them. It might be as simple as helping them to make a card for mum.

10. Be prepared – especially on Christmas day

Children can be placed 24/7, 365 days a year, with fostering families and the Christmas period is no exception. As a foster carer it’s always worthwhile to have additional supplies and gifts – just in case. These are also useful for any guests who pop over during Christmas, who may overlook buying a gift for any additional children you might be looking after.

11. Involve the children in shopping for groceries

Some children may have concerns about whether there will be enough food. Let them help you shop for groceries for the Christmas meals. This will give them the opportunity to tell you what they like or don’t like or never ate.

12. Encourage a child to feel part of the family celebrations

Small things such as having their names on their own Christmas stockings and making it clear that these are their stockings to keep for next Christmas increases the message that they are a part of the festivities. It helps to make a point of doing something special with each child in the house. Each child can have a special Christmas related duty. This gives you some one-on-one with each child and allows them to feel involved and somewhat special.

So, I had all three of the kids lounging like every bit of energy had been drained from them. One over the armchair, one with a head against a wall and the other sat crossed legged on the kitchen floor staring at the ceiling. What had taken all their puff I hear you ask! It wasn’t PE at school nor from playing in the street. It wasn’t a day after exams or a rigorous homework session, no, it was far worse than all of that. It was boredom.

My son had managed to do six minutes on his guitar and then said that he was set on a course to match himself to Carlos Santana in the near future as he had really put the work in. My two daughters had ignored every option of entertainment including unwrapping new games and puzzles. The bikes stayed in the garage and the trampoline retained its bounce. The common factor was very simple, they couldn’t be bothered. All of them wanted screens to turn their beautiful brains to mush and they all wanted to be separate as dealing with each other was too much effort as well.

I have to confess I probably could have dealt with it better. Firstly, I banned all the screens for the rest of the day to which they all managed to muster a terrified glared recoil. Then I said that playing together was mandatory. A second gnashing of teeth and flinch occurred. I think they even went a little pale. Two minutes later they were playing Uno and having a good time. Ten minutes after that and they are egging each other on on the trampoline.

I know it is very easy for us to be nostalgic about our childhoods or times before iPads, however it is amazing the affect that they have. It is not only how lazy it can make their beautiful brains but far more sinister it seems to have made another robbery. That is, that a screen can replace real human connection even at their young age.

I would love to hear how you deal with this very common problem? Do you negotiate? Have you got rid of electronica entirely? How do you reflect with your children about how one is better than the other?

I know that this is another fight I will have tomorrow and I must admit I find it draining. It is of course times like this that we have to analyse ourselves as well. Do I choose screens over anything? Do I use Facebook rather than real faces? Does twitter limit real conversations to 140 characters for me? Do more fingers point back to me when I point to them? This is something that I need to model to my kids. Maybe you do too?

Look forward to hearing from you!


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