2020 has been an interesting year for individuals, families, businesses, and charities alike. We have all had new challenges to face. As the year draws to an end and as we are writing our annual report it is a great opportunity to reflect on the year.
In January, the year started on a positive note as PACS started its relationship with Insight Magazine and our monthly ‘What’s on at PACS’ article began. We have covered topics like dealing with isolation, the benefits of playgroups and messy play. This has required our volunteers to discover their writing skills and we hope the readers have found them entertaining and informative!
Like most charities we rely on donations and in February we held our annual Flag Day, and the community of Gibraltar were so generous that it was our best year yet. The money raised on that day and from the play sessions we ran before lockdown has meant that even with months without donations, we have been able to meet our annual operating expenses that continue if we are running sessions or not.
Before lockdown we had managed to run 89 session which meant interacting and supporting over 73 children and their families per week over our four sessions. At these sessions we helped children grow and develop key skills in interaction, motor development, speech, and socialisation. Our sessions include free, sensory, and active play along with story and song time,craft and cooking sessions.
Unfortunately, the worldwide pandemic put PACS sessions in their normal form on hold. However, with the help of our dedicated volunteers and their families we switched to offering ‘Virtual Playgroup’ instead. We had volunteers demonstrating crafts and play sessions, giving cooking lessons, reading stories, and singing nursery rhymes all via our Facebook page. This allowed us to keep reaching out to our families and offering help and guidance through the difficult time. As Gibraltar started to emerge out of lockdown, we were able to start our Bumps and Babies session in person once a week thanks to the Living Room Café and the Methodist Church. This offering was increased to include twoplaygroup sessions back to back since September. Although these sessions require more administration and adults have to follow new restrictions, it has meant we can get back to some sense of normality and begin to deliver our sessions to support the community of Gibraltar.
The safety of our sessions has always been important to us as a charity and we at PACS know that at this time it can be worrying for parents to know what are safe activities to take their little ones along to. At PACS we take every step and measure we can to make our families feel reassured, these include;
* playgroup sessions having a booking system and contact tracing procedures to make sure we are within the government’s guidelines
* all play equipment is cleaned at the beginning and end of sessions
* volunteers and adults attending wear masks
* each session is manned by volunteers who have been police checked, trained in first aid, safeguarding and mental health.
* we are a registered and insured charity
All of this helps you to know that when attending one of PACS sessions you are safe
We hope that as we come to the end of 2020 that the new year may give us the opportunity to get back up to full strength with our sessions and we can continue to grow as a charity in Gibraltar. If you are interested in finding out more about us, our sessions or even feel you would like to volunteer then please get in touch via our Facebook Page; Parent and Child Society Gibraltar.