Siblings Together Jan 2017 What we've done this month: The year got off to a very busy start, with our CEO Delma taking a well-earned break to Kenya, our Administrator Cheryl getting engaged in romantic New York and MADs Co-ordinator Keeley Mudd welcoming the safe arrival of twin boys! Keeley is now on maternity leave until the end of the year and we have been busy searching for two very special people to lead MADs in the interim. One part-time member of staff has now been recruited, with another appointment likely to be made by mid-February. Watch this space for an introduction to the new members of the team in next month’s report… In January we also set aside a day to invest in some further development and training with our wonderful volunteers. It was a wonderfully creative, thought- provoking day, with staff and volunteers working in partnership to plan this year’s schedule of MADs activities for the children. Feedback from our volunteers sums up a very successful day, with comments describing the training as ‘informative, insightful, thought-provoking, enjoyable and interactive’. Like the majority of organisations who rely on the commitment, expertise and generosity of people who give of their time for free, Siblings Together recognises the enormous contribution made by our volunteers. They truly are the life-blood of our organisation; without their dedication and generosity in giving of their time and talents, we simply could not do much of what we do. MADs volunteers commit to a minimum of one year to supporting our groups of siblings on monthly activity days. Kind, caring and collectively imbued with a very strong sense of fun, the volunteers support both the staff and each other to work as a strong team, expertly supporting brothers and sisters to connect with each other through activities that are positive, child-centred and meaningful, and which help the strengthening of sibling bonds through shared memories. Siblings Together’s volunteers are also a very diverse group of people, hailing from many different walks of life and from countries far and wide. Amongst our current volunteers for example, we have people from such fields as: medicine, psychology, education, acting, art, marketing, photography, social work, accountancy and graphic and media design. Collectively, they bring a diverse range of skills, experience, knowledge and insights to their volunteering roles, adding an extra element to the many ways in which they contribute to the positive experience of the children who attend our activities. Ask any group of children in the UK what they aspire to be when they grow up and many will mention sports, medicine, science, IT, engineering, the creative arts, teaching, the rescue services etc. as amongst their top choices. Yet ask a group of looked - after children or young care leavers the same question – and predictably, many will say they aspire to becoming social workers! Why? Partly because they feel a very empathic desire to help improve the care system for other children and sometimes it is a lack of self-belief to imagine they can rise above where they see themselves. Often though, it is simply that a great many children in care only get chance to interact with two groups of adults – their social workers and teachers, limiting what they see as possible future roles for themselves. For children attending our projects, our wonderfully diverse, inspirational team of volunteers offer an opportunity to see the world through a multitude of different lenses, with opportunities the children might otherwise never have imagined and offering the possibility of enhanced aspirations and an increased optimism for the future.