Who would have thought that 2020 would have played out like it has? We have spent more time indoors than ever and have had to change to new ways of working from home. This hasn’t been the case for key workers who have had to continue working throughout the pandemic to enable us to go about our daily lives as best as we can. Here at Excel Fostering, we wanted to say a big thank you to those who have worked tirelessly throughout the past six months by delivering a coffee treat to the local businesses who kept us going during the height of the pandemic.

Emma Egan, Team Manager at Excel Fostering, explains how she thought of the idea of the coffee drop as a thank you to key workers.

She said: “I have been following Ninja Coffee on social media for a while and have seen their bright orange delivery vans in my local area, so when I saw that Matthew (the owner of Ninja Coffee) had created a ‘Pay It Forward’ Scheme, I wanted to see if Excel could become involved. I thought it was a great concept and thoughtful way to say Thank You to our key workers.

“Since March, Excel have had to adapt the way we work, we have held virtual meetings and visits to our brilliant foster carers using technology.  There are however some keyworkers who have continued ‘business as normal’ and professions who have not had this luxury.

“That is how we came up with the idea to provide coffees to three different local businesses across Rossendale and Burnley. We chose a food supplier, an education setting, and a doctor’s surgery as the three local business we wanted to thank because without them we would have struggled.”

We designed our own thank you labels, adding our very own personal message to the coffee cup: ‘Excel Fostering making tomorrow a brighter day, proud to support our key workers’.

The coffee drop was a success with local key workers and Excel received some great feedback. Staff at the local business were grateful and appreciative of the gesture and said how lovely it was of Excel to think about them. With the power of social media, we were able to see the positive effect our coffee drop had, and it was great to show our key workers how thankful we are for all their hard work during these trying times. We are happy the idea took off and we were able to take part in such a great initiative, spreading some joy and happiness during these challenging times.


Finding fun activities to together as a family can sometimes be very costly, especially if you are a large family! So, we thought we would put together a list of relaxing and bonding activities for you to do as a family and the best part is that all the activities are free, or cost very little to do. It is important to find time on a regular basis to connect with one another, even on busy days, you can find easy ways to bond.

Here are our favourite ways to relax and bond:

  • Read together – This is a great way of spending time together, as well as learning new vocabulary and expanding children’s minds through books. It can be fun for kids to choose the book you read together, as well as the format, so this could be a print book, digital or audiobook. The book choice or format are not as important as the time you are spending together, and it gives you an opportunity to discuss favourite characters and elements of the story. This activity could be incorporated into your daily family routine and will allow you all to grow closer with one another through the shared interest in books.
  • Break a sweat – Many studies show that regular exercise is not only good for your body, but it also plays a big part in reducing stress and improving your overall mood. You can do many exercise activities for free and as a family, for example walking, running, visiting parks gyms etc. If you set a regular time to exercise together as a family, you are more likely to stick to it and incorporate it into your lifestyle. To keep things fun, why not let the youngest family members choose the activities? This will encourage family bonding and help your children develop basic skills in team sports, and even help reduce anxiety they may face during sporting activities at school.
  • Cook up a good timeIt is never too early to get the little ones into the kitchen and teaching them how to cook up a good meal! Making nutritious food is vital in keeping our brains and bodies working to their highest standards, by engaging children in the cooking process you are encouraging heathy eating habits, as well as helping them develop skills they will need later on in life. Make things fun by asking your children about food ideas or their favourite thing to eat, this can eventually lead to a certain recipe being their ‘speciality’ within the family. You can look for ways over time to expand the child’s role within the kitchen overtime – Just make sure you don’t forget to compliment the chef!
  • Learn to meditate – Meditation is a free and powerful way of connecting with yourself as well as your surroundings, enabling you to live a more relaxed and stress-free life. Meditation is a tool that both yourself and the whole family can take part in. Research has shown that regular meditation can decrease stress, anxiety, pain, and depression. The other positive points to meditating are it can also boost your mood and self-esteem. There are various ways you can meditate which can be done together as a family, one popular example is putting on some soothing background music, find somewhere comfortable to sit and inhaling and exhaling with your eyes closed for a five to ten minute period. If you practice this daily, not only will this allow you to bond with your children, this is also great way of promoting healthy wellbeing within the family.

Worried minds often distract us from the positives around us but by practising these simple relaxing activities, it will enable you and family to build a stress-free environment. If you are looking for other ways to incorporate relaxing activities into your routine, you can view more at, here.

 

 


Max is a 21 month old, Fox Red Labrador and he has recently begun training to be a ‘therapet’. Max belongs to our Fostering Support Worker Rachel Sweeney who qualified in April 2014 as an Animal Assisted Therapy Practitioner and worked with children with and her Therapet at the time Issie. Unfortunately, Issie developed health issues and pet therapy was put on hold. Max has been with Rachel since October 2018 when he was just 9 weeks old and heis a fun loving pup who loves affections and someone to play with.

In order to get him used to busy environments, Max had been visiting our Burnley office and recently started training with the help of our young people. One young person’s feedback was “I hope we get to use him again because he is a really good and funny dog, thank you.” Another young person commented “I loved it, every minute I was with him was so funny I could not stop laughing.”

The short term plan is for Max to finish his training and continue to be able to support children and young people at Excel Fostering. We’re sure he will become a very popular member of the team!

Animal Assisted Therapy utilises the unconditional relationship qualities of animals to enrich therapeutic experiences. The human-canine team work to enhance the child’s social, emotional and cognitive functioning. The bond between a child and animal is natural, non-judgemental and teaches empathy and compassion. It can also support children with a host of other skills such as; fine motor, gross motor, sensory regulation, emotional regulation and social skills to name a few.

We will keep you posted on Max’s training and progress. Hopefully you’ll all meet him soon!

 


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