#YouCanAdopt

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Oxfordshire

We’ve partnered up with PACT (Parents And Children Together) to highlight the #YouCanAdopt campaign and encourage you to consider adopting

The team and their celebrity patrons are on a mission to debunk the myths on adoption and highlight the number of children looking for a new family

Adoptions in England have fallen by a third in four years but almost 3,000 children in England are still waiting to find their new family. That’s why an emotive new emotive film featuring adoptive families has been released as part of the campaign alongside a podcast series featuring a number of famous voices talking about adoption. In the film, the adoptive families recite a poem written by comedienne, writer and adoptee Joy Carter, which brings to life the stories of each of the families: the highs, lows and realities of adoption.

Carrie Grant, vocal coach, TV presenter and mum of four, said: “Our adoption journey began over eight years ago when we adopted our son, Nathan. We already had three biological children, but we had room in our hearts and knew we had the opportunity to offer another child a loving home. Adopting our son wasn’t an easy thing to do, but it was the right thing to do and a fantastic thing to do. He’s a Grant now, every bit as much as his sisters. I’d encourage anyone thinking about adoption to take the first step and find out more. It’s been such an incredible journey for our family.”

Sinitta, singer and mum of two, said: “I would definitely encourage others to consider adoption. I always knew I wanted children and I tried everything from IVF to surrogacy to have them. All of those journeys led to heartbreak, except adoption. The feeling of finally becoming a mother was almost indescribable; it’s just everything. It was everything I wanted and more. I love my children more than anything and I always say that love is thicker than blood.”

Joy Carter, writer, comedienne and adoptee, said: “It was a pleasure meeting all the different families and collaborating with them on this project. I was adopted when I was a baby, so the stories they shared with me really resonated. Every child needing adoption has a story and I hope by bringing some of those stories to life, people realise the difference they can make if they choose to adopt. I hope the poem and video will help encourage people to register their interest in adopting and help a child find a forever home. I’m really lucky that my parents gave me mine.”

Some of the biggest misconceptions around eligibility are that single people, older people, and those who are LGBTQ+ are not allowed to adopt, which is not the case. The new data revealed that participants felt the following groups would be either ineligible to adopt or were unsure if they were eligible to adopt; over the age of 50 years old 67% single 46% and LGBTQ+ 34%

The #YouCanAdopt campaign also aims to target potential parents from black, Asian and minority ethnic backgrounds, as these children traditionally wait longer to be matched with a new adoptive family. The campaign aims to encourage potential adoptive parents to also consider adopting older children, sibling groups and those with complex health needs or a disability.

The adoption process has evolved over the last few years; it is simpler and quicker than it has been previously and there is a lot more support available with over three quarters (76%) of adoptive parents finding the support and resources helpful.

Jan Fishwick, CEO of PACT, an adoption charity covering London and South East England, said: “The future of many children depends on adults exploring adoption and taking the first step towards becoming an adoptive parent. We need to address misunderstandings and outdated views to ensure that nobody is discouraged from taking the first important step towards adopting a child. Some people assume that because of their age or marital status they won’t be able to adopt, but that is simply not true, adoption is a choice for people who want to become a parent.

”It’s also important that prospective adopters are aware that they have a choice. They can choose to adopt through a local authority or a voluntary adoption agency such as PACT and we would encourage anyone thinking about adoption to explore all the options open to them.”

Visit www.youcanadopt.co.uk and begin your journey towards growing your family. To find out more about adopting with PACT, to download a free information guide or to book a place at an adoption information event visit www.pactcharity.org or call 0300 456 4800.

The Beatles: Get Back

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Oxfordshire

Get Back is set to celebrate the iconic band’s influence

“The Beatles gave my generation their genius and their joy and they changed the world through their art,” says Nicholas Callaway, founder & publisher of Callaway Arts & Entertainment. “The creativity and inspiration expressed in this landmark book and in Peter Jackson’s film are as important and relevant today as ever.”

His company, along with Apple Corps Ltd. are set for the global publication of The Beatles: Get Back, the first official standalone book to be released by the band since international bestseller The Beatles Anthology.

The 240-page hardcover tells the story of The Beatles’ creation of their 1970 album, Let It Be, in their own words. You’re invited to travel back in time to January 1969, the beginning of The Beatles’ last year as a band. The “White Album” is still at number one in the charts, but the ever-prolific foursome regroup in London for a new project, initially titled Get Back. Over 21 days, first at Twickenham Film Studios and then at their own brand-new Apple Studios, with cameras and tape recorders documenting every day’s work, the band rehearse a huge number of songs, new and old, in preparation for what proves to be their final concert, which famously takes place on the rooftop of their own Apple Corps office building, bringing central London to a halt.

Legend now has it that these sessions were a grim time for a band falling apart, but, as acclaimed novelist Hanif Kureishi writes in his introduction: “In fact this was a productive time for them, when they created some of their best work. And it is here that we have the privilege of witnessing their early drafts, the mistakes, the drift and digressions, the boredom, the excitement, joyous jamming and sudden breakthroughs that led to the work we now know and admire.”

Presenting transcribed conversations drawn from over 120 recorded hours of the band’s studio sessions with hundreds of previously unpublished images, including photos by Ethan A. Russell and Linda McCartney, it also includes a foreword written by Academy Award-winning director, producer and screenwriter Peter Jackson.

The book’s texts are edited by John Harris from original conversations between John, Paul, George and Ringo spanning three weeks of recording, culminating in The Beatles’ historic final rooftop concert. The release will be a special and essential companion to director Peter Jackson’s The Beatles: Get Back feature documentary film, set for theatrical release on August 27, 2021.

To watch the book trailer and find out more, visit thebeatles.com

Pre-order at lnk.to/thebeatlesgetbackbook

The perfect place to call home

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Oxfordshire

Taylor Wimpey invite you to discover ‘the perfect place to call home’ in the heart of the Cotswolds at Thornberry Green in Eynsham

The GREAT outdoors!

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Oxfordshire

We’ve never appreciated being outside more than we do now and with more gradually opening up to us, let’s get out and enjoy it

It’s the time of year when we’re normally thinking about going on holiday and spending as much time as possible outside – and with more of us likely to opt for staycations and short breaks closer to home this year, where do you start?

Fingers crossed, campsites are preparing to reopen this month with social distancing measures and a limited number of places, some will reopen second fields while others will introduce measures such as a system including timed use of showers.

If you’re a camping virgin, The Camping and Caravanning Club is a great place to start with all you need and some helpful advice:

• Stay in the open air – there are many physical and well-being benefits of camping and caravanning thanks to spending time in the fresh air

• Stay local – there will be a campsite near you, there’s no need to travel far for a change of scene and the local economies will benefit too

• Stay comfortable – there will be social distancing measures in place when they’re able to re-open campsites

The Club’s Director General Sabina Voysey said: “We believe the great outdoors will never feel greater and we can’t wait for the day when we’re able to welcome people back to our campsites. By sharing our handy guides, top tips and online content we hope we can introduce even more people to the joys of camping and caravanning.”

TV presenter Julia Bradbury is president of The Camping and Caravanning Club and created The Outdoor Guide (TOG) website to share her love of all things outdoors.

She said: “Green spaces are incredibly important to me. And they don’t have to be big, wide open landscapes. Yes, I love the Peak District and the Lake District, and Dartmoor and I love exploring the wilds of Scotland, but green spaces, parks, gardens, even simple window boxes. These ‘little bits of green’ or smaller green environs are equally important.

“Growing something, for example, in a window box is a way to connect with nature. And that is something that we have evolved to do. And it’s an important part of our makeup. We know for example, that time spent in green spaces, whether that is parks or bigger landscapes, either of those, time spent in green spaces is good for us.”

For many time spent in outdoor spaces means enjoying a walk and while Julia won’t commit to a favourite she explained that was the reasoning behind TOG: “People have been asking me for years and years about my favourite walks or where I like to stay or the pub that I was at, or where I was when I had that pie and pint, or that little woodshop that I called into, or the blacksmith/carpenter I talked to…

“So we’ve put all of that information up on the website and there are hundreds and hundreds of really good walks up on there. It’s not fair for me to say a favourite walk because I just like being out there.

“And it depends where you live. Some people will never get to the other side of the country. They’ll explore what they’ve got on their doorstep and that’s absolutely fine as well.

“Of course, the Peak District would always have a special place in my heart as will the Lake District because that’s where I made my first TV walks – The Wainwright walks – filming in the footsteps of Alfred Wainwright, so those two places are special.”

Julia believes it’s just important for people to get out and enjoy it, especially now. She added: “A University of Exeter study of nearly 20,000 people in England last year revealed people who spend at least 120 minutes a week in nature are significantly more likely to report good health and higher psychological well being, than those who don’t visit nature at all.

“One hundred and twenty minutes a week is nothing but the benefits to all are enormous, quite simply nature and green spaces help to keep us healthy. Governments that don’t recognise this are being incredibly foolish – it’s almost like having a second health service… This study found the majority of nature visits took place within just two miles of people’s homes.”

There’s lots more information on Julia’s website The Outdoor Guide, www.theoutdoorguide.com

UK tourism industry site Visit Britain is developing a quality mark for tourism businesses, including campsites, in response to Covid-19. It aims to reassure visitors businesses are complying with government guidelines.

The National Trust is reopening some of its properties but with many restrictions still in place. Visitors can now walk in some of its open spaces locally – White Horse Hill at Uffington; Buscot and Coleshill Estate in Wiltshire; the Chilterns countryside; Ashdown, Lambourn; Bibury, Gloucestershire and Stonehenge landscape. Car parks have reopened at these sites, some with limited space on a first come first served basis.

Some sites have been able to reopen further with gardens, parklands, estates and car parks welcoming visitors. Booking is essential at all properties although the houses themselves will not be open. Those you can now visit locally include: Cliveden and Basildon Park in Berkshire; Stowe, Waddesdon and Hughendon, all in Buckinghamshire; Buscot Park and Greys Court in Oxfordshire.

Visit the National Trust website for details
www.nationaltrust.org.uk/features/how-to-book-your-visit-and-what-to-expect

A National Trust spokesperson said: “We knew that once we started a gradual opening of our gardens and parklands, tickets for our places would be very popular; particularly with such fine weather.

“We’ve made careful decisions about which gardens and parklands can open, and we have limited their capacity to ensure everyone can adhere to social distancing to maintain the safety of our visitors, staff and volunteers, which remains our top priority.”

Historic Blenheim Palace in Woodstock has also reopened its formal gardens and walks for visitors to enjoy. Again booking for dates and times is essential as numbers are limited. The Palace has introduced a number of safety measures such as installing hand washing facilities and sanitisers, operating a cashless system and screens at kiosks. Visit www.blenheimpalace.com/ for all you need to know.

Walk around the beautiful gardens of Stonor Park near Henley which has welcomed visitors again and enjoy the offerings from street food vendors too. Pre-booked tickets are a must with timed entry only. The street food will also need to be booked in advance. For more information and to book visit www.stonor.com

You can also enjoy a walk around Windsor Great Park, observing the now customary restrictions and Savill Garden has reopened to friends and members as well with a further phased opening planned to welcome more people to appreciate the splendour of the gardens.

Make the most of the English outdoors and celebrate it as The Camping and Caravanning Club says on its website ‘the good times will never feel better’ and ‘the outside will never feel greater’.

• Share with us where you like to go. Which places are you longing to get back to? Get in touch with us via Facebook, Twitter or Instagram and share your pictures

Wallingford vehicle rally

Round & About

Oxfordshire

The popular annual Wallingford Vehicle Rally & Parade has been cancelled this year but the organisers are keeping their fingers crossed for a ‘mini lockdown parade’ on August 2nd.

They say: “We are currently in negotiations to hold a short driving tour around the area on Sunday 2nd August for all those purchased any ticket for this year’s event.

“We are currently working on a route that won’t cause disruption to the usual traffic and will contact everyone via email very soon with details.”

It will be free of charge, but they ask you make a small donation in the collection buckets on the day or via the crowd funder link that will be set up nearer the time so we can then share this with the local charitable causes who usually benefit and are struggling for funding during these trying times.

Organisers added: “Thank you for your patience, we are disappointed we are unable to hold the event this year but the health of participants, traders, staff and general public have to be our prime concern. Stay safe and we will be in touch with ticket holders this week and please keep an eye on our social media for updates for Sunday 2nd August 2020 mini lockdown parade.”

Info

All those who purchased tickets for the 2020 event can either request a refund (follow the link on your ticket confirmation) or your purchase will be valid for the 2021 event which will be held on Sunday, 9th May 2021. If they don’t hear from you, they will simply send you information and wrist bands in April for the event.

Could you help Citizens Advice?

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Oxfordshire

The dedication of staff and volunteers at local charity Citizens Advice Oxfordshire South and Vale has allowed it to continue giving advice to those in need at this time.

The team rallied to ensure as many people as possible could be helped over the phone or through webchat. Two weeks into the lockdown, 70 volunteer advisers were operating the Advice Line service from their homes.

As part of Volunteers’ Week, which runs from June 1st to 7th, Citizens Advice Oxfordshire South and Vale wants to thank its 150 volunteers for their contribution not only during this exceptional time but throughout the year. Between them they contribute more than 1,000 hours to helping people each week.

In the last year it has helped over 11,000 people with problems such as debt, housing, benefit and employment issues.

Volunteer Virginia Parker, a specialist benefits adviser in the Abingdon office, said: “I get enormous pleasure in helping people in difficult circumstances to understand and get what they are entitled to.

“It can be very daunting to ask for help, so we do our best to put people at ease and help them through the process. There is nothing more rewarding than helping people to resolve their problems so they can move ahead with their lives.”

Jon Bright, chief officer at South and Vale, said: “Throughout the year our wonderful volunteers contribute their time and energy to make a huge difference to people’s lives and help keep our vital service running. We couldn’t do it without them.”

Want to volunteer?

If you are interested in finding out more about volunteering with Citizens Advice Oxfordshire South and Vale, please visit their website

Taylor Wimpey reopens showhomes

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Oxfordshire

Taylor Wimpey Oxfordshire has begun a phased approach to reopening its sales office and show homes across the county.

Taylor Wimpey was the first UK homebuilder to stop construction on sites and close sales centres in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic and the lockdown restrictions. A phased return to construction has since restarted on a number of sites across England and Wales, with staff and subcontractors operating under a robust set of revised health and safety practices and protocols.

On Friday 22nd May, developments including Bridleways and Castle Grange in Banbury, Great Western Park in Didcot and Thornbury Green in Eynsham reopened their doors to customers with strict social distancing requirements in place.

A new set of protocols for all sales offices and show homes has been developed alongside new safety measures which have been introduced to protect the health and safety of its customers and employees.

These include the installation of Perspex screens and marker guides for social distancing. Show home viewings will be unaccompanied and only one family at a time will be able to view each home.

The sales teams have been helping customers remotely through the lockdown period and customers are encouraged to maintain contact digitally where possible. Customers wishing to visit the development will need to book an appointment over the phone.

Danielle Heard, Sales and Marketing Director for Taylor Wimpey Oxfordshire, said: “Reopening our sales offices and show homes is a significant step for both staff and customers. I want to assure the public that we are not prepared to compromise health and safety, which is why we will be operating our sales offices on a strict appointment-only basis.”

To book an appointment to visit or to speak to the sales team to find out about the homes available, customers can visit www.taylorwimpey.co.uk

To find out more

For more information about Taylor Wimpey’s protocol for safe working practices

Share your views on climate change

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Oxfordshire

Young people are being urged to help shape West Oxfordshire District Council’s response to the climate emergency.

Students, schools and youngsters from across the district are invited to express their views and ideas in a special online consultation at www.westoxon.gov.uk/environment/climate-action

As part of that WODC have arranged a competition which encourages them to get creative and submit their art to express how they feel about climate change and how their perfect, future world would look.

All entries will be considered whether working alone, with siblings or as a team of remotely-working friends. The cross-party Climate Action Working Group will be judging the entries and sharing with you all their favourites.

Post your videos – songs, raps, poems, dance, whatever grabs you – to describe what climate change means for you. Let them know what you’d like to see happen to make a change for the better and help protect the natural world.

Share your videos with everyone by posting them using this hashtag #climateactionwoxon.

If you love to draw, paint or take photographs, use the medium of art to describe your perfect, future world where we have come together and successfully tackled the issues of climate change.

What does your perfect world look like? Are we still driving cars? What do our buildings and homes look like? How do we heat and power them? What jobs are we doing? What technologies are we using? How are we living with nature? And what do our natural landscapes and pathways to school and work look like?

Your future world may be the whole planet or just your street. Release the artist in you and illustrate what you see.

Share your art and post it to: Your Views on Climate Action, West Oxfordshire District Council, Witney OX28 1NB or email [email protected]

This consultation is open until June 16th.

Art from your armchair

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Oxfordshire

 Local artists open up virtual exhibition for Oxfordshire Artweeks Festival

Artists looking forward to welcoming the public to their studios for Oxfordshire Artweeks are now doing so virtually until May 25th.

The 13 resident artists and associate members of Ayres House Studios, Wallingford, were looking forward to inviting visitors into the previously derelict building; throwing open their studio doors to exhibit both art work and studio space – now sadly impossible due to social restrictions.

In October 2019 the artists took over Ayres House on Station Road. The building was used as a rectory until the 1950s and had been empty for many years and was officially opened with a launch celebration in December.

Studio Manager, Emma Souter of Adumbration Arts said: “It’s such a lovely building with so much potential, I think it needs us as much as we need it.”

On show ‘virtually’ will be paintings, ceramics, sculpture, textiles, upholstery, jewellery, photography, installations, artist’s books, performance and art restoration. The artists are from both academic and self-taught backgrounds, including those from high art, conceptual, fine art and applied crafts.

Daily content will be shared to provide a creative overview from the studios, highlighting what the artists have been doing before and during the coronavirus.

Among those helping out has been Becky Colwell who has used her textile skills to help make scrubs for the NHS and is looking forward to being able to teach sewing classes when the studios re open to the public.

Emma of Neoteric Dance Company has created a new dance film A Home in Isolation, documenting the experiences faced by so many at this time. Alongside this she is also supporting individuals who may be struggling emotionally and physical at this time, by offering virtual spaces to talk and process their experiences, seeing her transfer her Dance Movement Psychotherapy skills to a virtual platform.

During lockdown the studio is welcoming applications from artists who would like to join the studios and for those who would like to join as associate members. They are also seeking proposals for community and collaborative projects so they are ready for when restrictions are lifted. Once back they will re-open Monday Makers and the various courses, workshops and exhibitions which were suspended due to Covid19.

Until then why not visit Ayres House Studios online from the comfort of your homes throughout May.

During Artweeks there will be a chance to view works online via https://www.artweeks.org/festival/2020/ayres-house-studios and on the Studios social media pages https://www.facebook.com/ayreshousestudios and https://www.instagram.com/ayreshousestudios where new posts will be shared daily throughout the festival.

More info

For those interested in visiting Ayres House, signing up for a class or joining the studios after restrictions have eased, please email [email protected] or call Adumbration Arts on 01865 819869.

Cotswold Challenge

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Oxfordshire

Teenagers aged 16-19 are being invited to take the Cotswold Challenge for the chance to win cash prizes by showing off their skills and talents.

It is an opportunity for young people, who had their GCSEs and A-levels cancelled, to take part in a challenge to excel and gain a sense of achievement as well as winning a prize.

The Cotswold Challenge has three categories: Art & Design; Creative Writing; Innovation & Entrepreneurial Thinking. Budding artists, sculptors, authors, poets and entrepreneurs can enter one or all three categories as many times as they like.

The Art and Design Challenge

Express your artistic talents in any medium: fine art, graphic design, sculpture, print-making, illustration, photography

The Creative Writing Challenge

Entries are invited for short stories/plays/scripts/poems that could be inspiring, reflective of what’s happening in the world today or thoughts about the future, in any genre

The Innovation and Entrepreneurial Thinking Challenge

Do you have a great idea for a product, service or campaign that would benefit the world? How could we improve the planet or environment or our way of life?

There are four prizes in each category of £500, £300, £150 and £50, which has already been donated in full by several generous sponsors (full list can be seen online).

After the competition, winners will be able to pitch for additional funds to take ‘the next step’ towards showcasing their work eg publishing their poem or short story; staging their own art exhibition or taking their innovative idea to an early prototype stage.

The Cotswold Challenge is a brand new innovative initiative, which launched on Monday, 20th April, and has a deadline for entries of 9pm on Monday, 1st June.

Entry

Entry is free and you can get a briefing pack and entry details

The Cotswold Challenge has been created by The Cotswold Collective – a team of five self-employed, professional business men and women, all of whom are members of the Fairford & Lechlade Business Club: Nigel Chute of Chute Design; Barry Jackson of Aspire Academy; Allison Murray of Allison Murray Design; Chris Roberts MBE, founder of the Fairford & Lechlade Business Club and freelance journalist; and Fiona Scott of Fiona Scott Media