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Cyber-Safety and Archery Sessions

24 April 2018

On Thursday 12th April, three of our Dundee young people kicked off their day with a visit to the local community hub in Aviemore. Here, Fraser Morrison from the Youth Development Team at Aviemore delivered a session on cyber-safety. The group discussed important issues such as cyberbullying and how to keep yourself safe and secure online. The young people put their learning to the test with interactive quiz’s and did very well indeed, showing how much they had learned during the session!

The afternoon saw staff and young people take on the task of being the next Robin Hood or Katniss Everdeen by taking part in an archery lesson. Although getting a bullseye was the aim of the game, some of us seemed more skilled at aiming the arrows at the clouds! Nevertheless, great fun was had by all.

Thank you to those that attended, we had a great day learning about cyber-safety and the art of archery!

Young Children Who Foster Group

17 April 2018

It is important to give everyone within Swiis a voice. From our children and young people, to our foster carers and our children who foster. In Scotland, we have groups for our ‘children who foster’, which includes the Young Children Who Foster Group (YCWF). This group is made up of the children of the foster carers and their immediate family, and is a safe space which gives opportunity for them to talk about how it feels having to share their parents, grandparents or aunties and uncles as foster carers.

Supervising Social Workers, Dawn and Steve from the Dundee team ran the Young Children Who Foster Group in the Dundee office in March 2018. This is Dundee’s youngest children who foster group, with the children ranging from three years to six years.

The theme for the March meeting, was Easter. For this, the children took part in painting a boiled egg and rolling it. They enjoyed getting sticky with non-cook baking i.e. marshmallows dipped in chocolate; they dashed around at the Easter egg hunt gathering eggs; they danced their wee socks off to the music and had fun playing tape the tail on the bunny. Everyone had a fantastic time during the meeting, enjoying all the Easter activities.

The next group is scheduled for August 2018, and we look forward to welcoming everyone.

Play on Wheels Easter Holiday Activity

16 April 2018

The Easter holidays is a fantastic opportunity for our children and young people to interact with each other via our participation days. This Easter, our Fife office organised a trip to Play on Wheels at Pittencrieff Park in Dunfermline, on what happened to be a very cold and windy day. That didn’t stand in the way of anyone’s fun though.

Play on Wheels is a fantastic experience for young people to be creative and enjoy outdoor play. The children enjoyed free play with loose parts, which included wooden planks, blocks, tyres, sand and soapy water to make bubbles. This was a huge hit with the children and they enjoyed getting wet and chasing after the bubbles – even the foster carers enjoyed this!

While half the children were enjoying free play, others enjoyed walking and running around the plank circuit, pretending the sea was under the planks. They were trying to get away from the sharks and crocodiles in the water, showing great creativity in their play. As well as these activities, the children also enjoyed rolling balls and pouring water down used gutters into big buckets and trays.

The Fife children who took part in the Play on Wheels activity all had a great time exploring, running around outdoors getting wet and muddy. At the end of the day, the children all received a little chocolate Easter treat, which they were all very happy to receive. Thank you to our foster carers, children and young people who attended.

Being a foster carer gives you the opportunity to transform a life. Contact us today to start your fostering journey.

Award Winning Team

07 March 2018

Swiis Foster Care Scotland are proud award winners, having been crowned SME winner in the Value for Money category at the Scotland Excel Supplier Excellence Awards.

We were one of twelve businesses lucky enough to win an award at the event in Glasgow’s Radisson Blu Hotel on 20 February. The event was hosted by Dougie Vipond, and opened by Derek Mackay, Cabinet Secretary for Finance and the Constitution.

These awards recognise the achievements of local government suppliers, and we were recognised as a supplier on the Scotland Excel Fostering and Continuing Care Services contract. This enables local authorities to purchase fostering placements and continuing care placements from independent and voluntary providers as a supplement to their internal provision.

Our Value for Money award recognises that we achieve the best possible outcomes for children, while providing value for money and innovative solutions. The award shows that we listen to our young people and actively seek feedback from other key stakeholders, which we use to develop and improve placement options.Scotland Excel Supplier Excellence Awards Winners

Sam Arnott, Director of Swiis Foster Care Scotland, said: “Thank you very much to Scotland Excel for developing these awards and to all the judges for taking the time out of their schedules to review all the nominations. Achieving this accolade is a testimony to us listening to and working productively with our local authority purchasers combined with the dedication, passion and commitment that our staff, foster carers and panel members consistently demonstrate in ensuring that Getting it Right for Every Child is central to all of our service developments. Being recognised and selected by such esteemed judges as the SME supplier providing the best Value for Money is both humbling and inspiring. We look forward to celebrating this achievement as part of our Swiis 30th anniversary celebrations.”

Fife’s Councillor Altany Craik, who sits on Scotland Excel’s Executive Sub-Committee, said: “Our suppliers play a vital role in supporting delivery of essential public services, and it is right and fitting that we recognise those that go the extra mile.

“Winning a Supplier Excellence Awards is a real accolade for the business community, as it’s the only awards programme in the country to recognise the achievements of local government suppliers.  Competition was tough, and our expert judging panel had its work cut out.

“My congratulations go to Swiis Foster Care Scotland for their good work and well-deserved success in these prestigious awards.”

Our submission for the awards highlighted:

  • How we have evolved our model of service delivery to include the provision of ‘standard’ placements that are very well supported
  • How we have worked with our LA purchasers to secure win:win outcomes when negotiating the novation of the contractual basis of placements to the new SXL Framework
  • The improved outcomes that have been achieved e.g. all of our school leavers are in positive destinations and 93% of them achieved level 5 or higher exam grades
  • We had achieved Investors in People at Gold level and Investors in Young People
  • Examples (drawn from each team) of innovative practices ranging from 1:1 issue based interventions to group-work undertaken with children who are looked after, CWF and with carers
  • The range of developmental opportunities available including the accredited Awards
  • Our commitment to GIRFEC and to continuous improvement

A huge well done to everyone at Swiis Foster Care Scotland for their fantastic win!

Bookbug Day in Dundee

27 February 2018

Swiis Foster Care Scotland are always looking at new ways to engage our carers and emphasise the importance of early years intervention with the children in our care. Sandy McLeod, one of our fantastic Education Workers explains why reading is so important to children.

If I remember correctly, the first ever story I can recall my Mother ever reading to me when I was a child was, Herge’s ‘Adventures of Tintin’. I still remember to this day how I loved his adventures along with his trusted dog Snowy trying to solve mystery’s that they probably should have left for the Police to crack. I didn’t know it at the time, but my Mother told me that she had been reading to me since I was born.

I thought about this and tried to recall any thoughts or feelings I had of this time. I couldn’t remember any specific instances of my Mum doing this, but I do remember the warm feeling I got when it was just me and her sharing time together with ‘Tin Tin’ and how close I was to her.

Sadly, my Mum stopped reading me stories, when in her opinion I was too old… I was 45 – but I still miss those stories. Joking aside, it can’t be reiterated enough about the power of storytelling from an early age and the positive impact it has on a child’s development and those early interactions that play a crucial role that helps in building a secure attachment.

Positive interaction, such as stories, songs, rhymes and play, is a key component to helping a child develop. All these activities help to form positive parent and child relationships which form connections in a child’s brain. This leads to the development of key areas of emotional regulation, which in turn helps a child to develop emotional self-regulation. (Golding and Hughes)

How do stories, songs and rhymes help to foster secure attachment?

  • Stories, songs and rhymes include elements of touch such as cuddling or tickling. This helps parents/carers and children bond and develop their relationship.
  • Many songs and rhymes involve face to face interaction. Eye contact helps to develop communication skills, helps cognitive ability and at the same time foster secure and trusting relationships.

The Scottish Government have put the same importance on children all over Scotland and decided to relaunch the children’s reading initiative in September 2017. This was a no brainer for me as we have loads of children in our care and professional carers ready to engage in anything that helps them develop.

We contacted Dundee libraries who informed us that they had an initiative ‘Bookbug’ in conjunction with the Scottish Book Trust. They already had an initiative that was up and running in all Dundee primary schools.

Elaine Halliburton, from Dundee Libraries’ Storytelling Initiative, was soon in touch and we arranged for storytelling training to be held in our Dundee office on Thursday 22nd February. Elaine came along with her cohort Moira and they delivered two sessions to eight of our carers with no children involved, or so I thought…

After singing, wiggling and playing, you would think that the carers were revisiting their childhood given the amount of laughter that went on in the sessions. And that’s the point, storytelling is not just about the written word, but the interactions that take place between the adult and child.

It was clear that the carers enjoyed every minute of Storytelling. Plans are afoot to start our own Bookbug Club with our carers.

Let the storytelling begin.

A New Arrival for Kreisha

22 February 2018

We’ve had some lovely news in Scotland – a new arrival to the team!

Kreisha, a Resource Worker in the Dunfermline Permanence Team, had a lovely send off to her maternity leave on the 12th January. Her team arranged a baby shower, with lunch, baby cakes, fun and games. Kreisha thought she would have a few weeks to put her feet up and rest before her baby arrived. However, Baby Hope had a totally different idea and to Kreisha’ s surprise, Hope, arrived on the 17th January, almost 4 weeks early.

Gorgeous baby Hope arrived healthy, weighing 5lbs 8oz and with lovely dark hair. Kreisha and her husband Paul are settling in to parenthood and loving their tiny bundle of cuteness.

Huge congratulations to Kreisha and Paul on their new arrival!

Safer Internet Day: Advice for Foster Carers

05 February 2018

It is important that foster carers know how to keep the young people in their care safe on the internet. For Safer Internet Day 2018, which is celebrated globally on Tuesday 6th February 2018, we have created a video to help our foster carers teach their young people and children how to stay safe when using the internet. This video has a focus on safety when using social media.

This year, Safer Internet Day have focused their campaign around the slogan “Create, Connect and Share Respect: A better internet starts with you”. The campaign helps raise awareness to keep young people safe online.

More Internet Safety Advice for Foster Carers

For more guidance and advice on keeping your young people safe when they are using the internet, visit thinkuknow, for advice for parents and carers. To find out more about the websites and apps that young people commonly use, visit NSPCC NetAware.

A Lesson in Scottish for our IT Team

11 January 2018

An important part of Swiis Foster Care’s ethos is the need for good communication. This happens in many shapes and forms, whether it is with everyday conversations, meetings, e-mail or by telephone.

Our world is fast changing, where people want things sooner rather than later and are impatient to get things done.

To help keep up with this kind of demand, our fantastic IT team in London have put together a new communication package whereby all of the above is possible in a faster, reliable and most importantly in the current financial climate, cheaper!

Three of the very talented IT team, Sam, Peyush and Stephen made the trip North to Scotland to make the big switchover from our old phone system to Skype for Business.

However, one thing the boys forgot to bring with them on their trip to Scotland, was an interpreter. It was bad enough in the Fife and Glasgow offices, but the looks on their faces when they tried to make sense of the Dundee dialect was priceless!

Overcoming this language barrier seemed to be the biggest hurdle they had to face because as usual the IT teams’ expertise made the switchover as quick and as simple as possible and it wasn’t long before the boys had returned to London to solve all the issues that all our teams in Swiis inundate them with daily.

A big thank you from our teams in Scotland to Sam, Peyush, Stephen and everyone else in IT that helped with this switchover. They help keep Swiis running on a daily basis and are an immensely important part of the Swiis team. What would we do without you all.

Haste ye back.

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