Author: <span>Nightingales Children's Project</span>

28 Jan

Plans for 2021:

If 2020 has taught us anything we know that it is not a great idea to plan too much in advance but still, we have a few plans for 2021 which we thought you might like to hear about. Sadly, at the moment we are unable to plan any trips for overseas volunteers due to the global pandemic, but we hope that as the year unravels that we will be able to plan new trips for people. These trips bring such joy to the beneficiaries at Nightingales and also to the local community. 

We will go through our projects and set out some of the plans we have for 2021, if you would like to hear more about any of them, then please feel free to contact us through the website or via our email address nightingalesromania@gmail.com

Differently Abled Adults:

Our house for differently abled adults struggled with the restrictions placed on their lives in 2020, they like to have a set programme and know what that programme is. Due to things changing, often from one day to the next on the restrictions in place nationally and locally, their programme had quite a few changes to it. This year we have sat down with them and come up with a list of places they would like to go each month. This really helps them regulate their behaviour, they have the places printed out and stuck onto their fridge and daily they go up to the fridge to see where they are going to. The trips are really varied, from going to a Zoo, to someone’s house for lunch to a trip to the mountains to see an ex-volunteer who works at a charity there. 

At the house we also have some renovations to be done to the sitting room, to give them some more room, so that they can enjoy spending time there as a group, which is great when the weather is not so good. Normally we would have waited for a group of volunteers to do a job like this, but in 2020 we were forced to renovate with our differently abled adults and although the pace was much slower, the satisfaction for them was huge, we have found that they have a greater respect for the house. So we hope to start this in the Spring, expect an update of Baba using a sledge hammer!!

Girls at Risk:

The girls at risk have had to cope with school online this year, for the younger ones who struggle with school this has meant that they have struggled to understand more than others. The support workers, working with these young girls have done an amazing job. The focus for them is passing their end of year exams, so they do not have to repeat the year. We have one girl in grade 8 who will be taking her exams in June to enter High School. We have another girl in class 12 who will be taking her International Baccalaureate in June, which means she has got 6 months of hard work ahead. For the other girls, we hope that we will be able to get the coffee shop back up and running, once legislation in Romania allows play areas for children to be open again. 

In the summer we hope that with a small team of amazing mums from the UK we will be able to take the group away for a week. These weeks are so fantastic for the relationships between the girls and also the key workers working with them. It gives them time to really explore subjects that the girls are struggling with. The benefit of these weeks, helps the girls throughout the year.

Young men mentoring programme:

The football season last year was wiped out in March and we hope that sometime in 2021 we can get the boys back on the pitch. We have been able to train sporadically, but we hope that in 2021 we will be able to have more structure to our football programme. It is so important for them to have structure as often they do not have any structure in their lives. Three of the young men have stepped up and are now helping out with the coaching of the junior teams, this means that we have a lot more time to invest in them, helping them to make good choices for their future. As the men from the senior team take on more of the coaching, it allows us to mentor the young people in the junior teams. 

In 2021 we are also coming alongside a local school in Cernavoda, starting a literacy class for boys in reception class and class one, boys who although they are almost 2 years into their education cannot recognise their numbers and letters, and are so far behind their classmates. We are able to support the teachers, who do not have the time to spend going back to topics that these young boys need to be focusing on. The programme will also support the families of these boys to be able to do more for their education. Each week the children will receive a small pack they can take home and work with their family to reinforce what they learnt at Nightingales. 

Social Enterprise at Nightingales:

2020 was hard for Nightingales to help support the young girls in their social enterprise as we did not have the possibility to make candles, cards or open the coffee shop for much of the year. In 2021, we hope that we will be able to start up the social enterprises again, we are hoping that we will be able to develop a market in Cernavoda for all of the products, due to the new restrictions that will be in place in exporting the products to the UK due to Brexit. This is something that we are looking into at the moment. The girls are very excited about making the products again, and it has been great to see that they are coming up with new ideas whilst they are unable to make anything at the moment. 

28 Jan

Become a friend of Nightingales in 2021:

Nightingales is fully aware that 2020 and 2021 has been, and will be hard for so many people. The lack of job security for so many, the amount of people who cannot work during the pandemic and people who have had families and friends badly affected by the virus. At Nightingales we attempted to offer the beneficiaries in our care and projects, all that they need to fulfil their potential. We have small overheads, due to having three long-term volunteers who help to run the majority of our projects. The only paid staff we have are the three housemothers, who have been working for Nightingales since 1998, who care for our differently abled adults. 

In 2021, to continue to be able to offer the care needed for our beneficiaries, we are looking for 50 people to become ‘friends of Nightingales’. 

What does it mean to be a friend of Nightingales:

To be a friend of Nightingales asks you to consider donating at least£5 a month. To have this regular income in the charity it allows us to make sure that each month we can cover what our beneficiaries need, without having to reduce the quality of our care. It means we can plan activities with them for the year, structuring their care to aid them to fulfil their potential. In return Nightingales will provide you with a short update once every two months. It will allow you to become a partner in what we are doing as a charity, to keep in regular contact with our beneficiaries and their progress. 

Where will your donation be spent?

Your donation will go towards the daily running costs of the charity. It will make sure that we can pay the bills needed at the day centre, where the young men and women come on a daily basis to receive homework help, mentoring sessions and are able to be part of the social enterprise schemes. For the differently abled adults it allows us to pay the staff, a minimum wage for Romania, who care for and have been caring for our young people since 1998. They are much more than just employees; they are like family. It will also cover the electricity and water bill at their house. 

We understand that you might like your donation to be used in a glamorous way but, without these donations Nightingales would not exist. The differently abled adults would be in the state care adult institution. The young people from the town that we mentor, would probably end up dropping out of education, and following many of the role models from the areas in which they live, most probably meaning that they would make negative choices regarding their future, without the input of Nightingales in their lives and the lives of their families. 

28 Jan

A Covid Christmas:

Christmas is normally a time of great excitement at Nightingales, the coffee shop houses a Santa’s grotto, the young people enjoy making special Christmas meals and celebrating together. For many of the beneficiaries of the at girls at risk and the mentoring of young men programs, the gifts they receive from Nightingales are the only gifts that they receive during the Christmas period. The differently abled adults enjoy the run up to Christmas, the decorating of the house, the thoughts about the gifts that they will receive, and the fun Christmas meal with a large number of the beneficiaries from the house and those in independent units in the town, alongside our long-term volunteers and their family. It is a time of great joy, lots of laughter and fun is had by all. 

2020 was a Covid Christmas, Cernavoda was in lockdown from the end of November till the 26th of December. This meant that the coffee shop was not open, and we could not open the Santa’s grotto, which was such a shame. We then planned to set up the decorations at the house for our differently abled adults, but this plan had to change as our key workers for the house had to isolate due to one of them testing positive for Covid-19, due to the regulations we have in place at the charity no-one else tested positive. So it was a quiet Christmas for the guys in the differently abled house, they had a lovely Christmas meal all together, thanks to so amazingly generous local families who donated money so that they could have a Christmas Feast. Their gifts were bought before the key-worker family went into isolation, so they also had presents to open under the Christmas tree on the 25th. The young people from this project who live in independent living due to the restrictions were unable to come and spend the day with them, but after the 26th this was possible for them all to get together. Only the two girls from the flat were able to, because they are in the same bubble as the house.

The beneficiaries of the other projects sadly were not able to celebrate in the same way as other years. The gifts that had been bought could not be delivered to the girls and boys. The Christmas meal was cancelled, and we were only able to be in contact with those who have access to the internet at home, not that many. The girls at risk were able to celebrate in January before the school term restarted, as the restrictions of lockdown were no longer in place in the town, they loved the gifts and also got a ski suit each from a very generous family from Wiltshire, who are connected with the school Dauntsey’s. The boys are hoping to be able to have a large get together this year, but it will probably be a summer celebration rather than Christmas. 

Although it was a very different, ‘Covid Christmas’ at Nightingales, the joy of seeing the young people together, seeing their joy at receiving some very simple gifts was huge. This we were able to do through the amazing generosity of people through the Nightingales Shop, where people bought a Christmas present for the Nightingales beneficiaries. This generosity, helped put smiles on faces and allowed the young people we work with to enjoy being children even if it was just for a while. Seeing the girls playing with their dolls at the charity, for two of the girls at the age of 8 these were the first dolls they had ever had, and they kept calling them their children. So even though it was hard and different we still managed with your help to spread some of the joy of Christmas this year. 

28 Jan

Thank you for your support in 2020

Thank you so much for your support of Nightingales in 2020. It has not been the year that

Nightingales had expected, or that most of the world had expected. We have had to think on our feet, change plans, develop new ways of working with our beneficiaries so that both they and we are safe. One of the biggest losses was not being able to have groups of volunteers at the charity, this year. Our beneficiaries and many people in the town missed being involved in the activities which we run especially during the summertime.

This year has at times has been a struggle, but it has also been amazing to see how so many people supported Nightingales during this time. We managed to raise the money to fit a central heating system into the house for our differently abled adults, we ran a successful online charity auction in partnership with Dauntsey’s School, and many people have started supporting the charity through our online shop. This outpouring of generosity has been quite emotional for the charity, seeing people who have been affected by the global pandemic and still wanting to support the young people at Nightingales. This has allowed us to create conditions where the girls can have supported access to school online at Nightingales. Romanian schools have been almost entirely online since March. We have been able to deliver food parcels weekly to families badly affected by the pandemic. We have also been able to continue to pay our three members of staff who have worked tirelessly through the pandemic, with our differently abled young adults, who have struggled at times to understand why their lives and daily programme has changed.

Thank you so much for your support in 2020, if you would like to continue to support Nightingales and keep up to date on the beneficiaries and activities we are running here in Romania; please follow us on social media on Instagram @nightingales_romania and Twitter, @NightingalesRom. We are also looking for people to become friends of Nightingales and we are hoping in 2021, to add 50 new friends to Nightingales. Being a friend of Nightingales, (explained more in another post) means you sign up to donate a minimum of £5 a month to Nightingales, this then allows us to make sure that we can continue to provide the care for our beneficiaries even in the face of years such as 2020, when times are very uncertain for all of us.

06 Oct

Annie Watson – Volunteering with my mum

Last year me and my family spent two weeks in Romania. The holiday was fun but different in many ways. We started in Cernavoda. Each day we went out to Casa Fericirii to see Turkian, Daniela, Romana, Adriana and Baba and if we were lucky Valerica and Elena too.  We also saw the kind-hearted charity workers that helped the Dragon’s Den to help kids in need. Seeing how excited they all were to go to a shopping centre, McDonalds and to see the beach made me realise how spoilt I am in England as this would be weekly things like going out for dinner. I enjoyed painting the walls and designing the library room as I felt good knowing I was doing something for charity. However, this also made me feel very lucky to have local libraries that I can go to with an amazing wide range of books to choose from and read.

Getting the train was a crazy experience. People where walking across the tracks to the other side instead of having bridges, other people jumped down onto the tracks and boarded the train from the opposite side. To be honest it was quite scary walking across the tracks as in England no one would ever have the idea of even doing that! I loved my stay here a lot but the photos that my mum showed me where every different to how it is now.

Later on, during the holiday, we visited Sinaia in the mountains. This was one of the most beautiful, lush places I had ever seen. The mountains were covered in green and had incredible views.  We ended up getting the cable cars up the mountains all the way to the top; this was an amazing experience. At the top it was very windy but the views where breath taking. It also felt pretty cool knowing that there were bears roaming around throughout the trees in the mountains we were in.  During this holiday we went to many different places to eat and some the choices of food where surprisingly a lot like England. Walking around the roads we came across many wild dogs which was unexpected, one of them gave me the fright of my life.  I wasn’t used to this happening as in England I would never see a wild dog running around freely.

Over all I enjoyed my experience so much in Romania. I loved all the places we visited as they were all spectacular and I loved spending time with the young people my mum knows. It gave me a great understanding of how different some countries may be to others. Also, it made me grateful for the opportunities I have that others don’t; this inspired me to help others in any ways possible to ensure they get what they need to live an enjoyable life that they deserve.

06 Oct

My trip to Romania – Ruby Watson

Last year we went to Romania too see who my mum looked after when she was younger. When we first got to Cernavoda it looked really different to the pictures of when my mum was there. The first time we met the kids I was surprised how excited they were to see my mum. It was amazing how much they missed her, just like she misses them! I loved all of the kids and thought it was amazing what the charity is doing. One of the days we were there we took Turkian, Daniela, Romana, Buba and Adriana out to Constanta for a while and it made me realise how spoilt we are over here. The kids were excited to go to McDonalds and me and my family go out for dinner quite often. However, for a few days on our trip to Romania me and my family went to Sinaia and this was without a doubt the most beautiful place I have ever seen! The views and the place in general were just wonderful!  To help the charity me, my mum and my sister decorated the library for kids my age and younger to go and visit. We painted the walls, sorted books and laid out pillows and blankets so it was comfy for anyone who needed to visit.

When we got back from our amazing trip to Romania I just wanted to go back and do more than just decorate the library.

So, when Ben gave us the opportunity to do more I was so excited. My mum said if we did 100 miles either running or cycling in August we could raise £200 for Romania. Even though I hate running this still made me happy as I would do anything for the kids. Our aim was 100 miles to raise £200 but we managed to do 150 miles and raise over 1000 pounds!

23 Sep

Nightingales working through the global pandemic

Since March 2020, like the rest of the world, Nightingales has been feeling the effects of the global pandemic. We have been adhering to the restrictions placed by the Romanian authorities on Romanian citizens to help combat the spread of the virus, which has meant we have had to change the way we work. You can read our earlier blog post to see our initial response to the Covid-19 crisis, https://nightingaleschildrensproject.co.uk/2020/05/06/our-response-to-covid-19/

Since May we have been functioning in a ‘new normal’, this has meant new guidelines have been drawn up and they way we run activities has had to change. Normally in the summer Nightingales is buzzing with activity, volunteers, groups visiting and hundreds of young people and children from Cernavoda enjoying the range of activities that are on offer. This summer it is was eerily quiet at Nightingales with very few activities going on. This was sad to see, but also a positive in some ways for the beneficiaries who are supported by Nightingales. They got to participate in activities more specifically designed for their needs, in adherence to local and national legislation regarding Covid-19.

The older girls in the scheme took over the role of volunteers, weekly running activities for the younger girls; teaching them about hygiene, cooking, team work and many other life-skills. It was fantastic to see the older girls develop and grow into these roles, with the activities becoming more focused and well run as the summer went on. The younger girls enjoyed and looked forward to these sessions. During the summer the girls were helped, supported and sometimes pushed into reading their way through the library housed in the coffee shop. This meant that the girls have hit the ground running in the new school year, they have all improved and progressed in their reading, writing and basic arithmetic. One of the girls who has been struggling for three years to remember her alphabet and to read basic sounds, is now reading full sentences.

The differently abled adults who live in the Nightingales house have not been able to go on their annual holiday, something they always look forward too, or enjoy the range of activities with the volunteer groups that come to Nightingales. We have had to change and adapt their programme to make sure that they have a variety of activities to help aid their mental health and well being. This has meant that we have been going on a greater number of afternoon outings  in the local area, but, away from crowded places, and they have been helping out with various construction projects that we have had at the house. Although these projects have taken longer than normal, the sense of accomplishment for these young people has been huge. They do miss the volunteers and usual summertime adventures, but they have been enjoying the new range of activities.

The young men from the football team saw their season end in March having only played half their games. Our summer training camp unfortunately had to be cancelled just as the 2020-21 season itself looks in danger of being cancelled. The young men although sad about their lack of game time have taken this opportunity to spend their summers working, earning money. A few of them due to the prospect of not playing any football have also applied for jobs overseas and are working in England, Germany and France. This is a huge positive as they are learning new skills and also gaining valuable work experience.

As you can see this has been a time of change at Nightingales, we have also been able to spend time working with the leadership team in Romania and the trustees in the UK, via Zoom, to work out a plan of how we can move forward financially in the next few years, which we predict will be hard for so many people. We have made the decision to keep offering the same opportunities to the young people in our care whilst making investments short term to reduce the amount of money we are therefore spending long-term. In spite of all these changes we will continue to aim to offer a high level of care to all our beneficiaries.

30 Jul

‘Virtual’ Overland to Romania – my fundraising

by Michael Woods

I first went to Nightingales in 2016 volunteering for Stand International, on that first trip the people and the place stole my heart. It wasn’t my first time in Romania, I had volunteered before in Oradea, also with Stand International at another project. The smiles of the young people, the energy of Adriana and Turkian, chatting to Baba will be moments that I always cherish. One special memory I will always have is being able to share my wedding with them in September 2019, my wife and I had a blessing in Romania a month after we were married in Scotland.

When I heard about the ‘virtual’ overland to Romania, I knew I wanted to get involved. I work with disadvantaged people in Scotland with Street Soccer and have seen the negative effect of not being able to exercise during the lockdown. The coaches that I work with Ross and Jamie have been walking and cycling together and with our service users to help combat the mental health issues that people have been struggling with.

On Saturday 25th July, Ross, Jamie and I decided to climb Ben Lomond (974 m / 3196 ft) which is one of the most illustrious mountains in Scotland thanks to it’s proximity to Glasgow and it’s title of ‘Scotland’s most southerly Munro‘. On a clear day you will be rewarded with fine views of Loch Lomond and across the Scottish Highlands. Sadly we didn’t have any of that fine Scottish weather, the weather and climb almost broke us, but the thought of doing it for Nightingales got us up and down.

If you would like to support me please click on the following link for my fundraising page and help  hit my target, and help Nightingales hit their target of buying a new central heating system and covering the large heating costs for their cold winters, even colder than Scotland!

https://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/MichaelWoods28

If you would like to get involved and add some miles to the total as an indvidual or with your family and friends then please click on the following link and see how you can get involved.

02 Jun

How people in America can easily support Nightingales in Romania

We are happy to announce that our friends and supporters in America can now far more easily support the work that Nightingales is doing here in Romania. Through our friends at the organisation Good Bureau, a non-profit run by an American, Ryan Crozier, from Bucuresti, that, supports Romanian organisations and local leaders to effect change in the communities that they are in. We can now receive sponsorship and donations from our friends in America, through an American based platform, ‘Mighty Cause’. The platform is very easy to use and does not cost Nightingales anything in fees for people to make the donation. The money is then transferred for no cost to Romania. The link is https://www.mightycause.com/story/Nightingales

The money raised from this site will allow Nightingales to continue to provide the care the beneficiaries in our programmes need and deserve. So that you will be able to see where your money raised each month will go, we have a breakdown of how the money will be spent. We are also aware that at this time people have been hit hard by effects of Covid-19, and we too have been feeling the effects, whilst continuing to provide the best possible care and opportunities for the young people in our care.

How the donations will be used:

$5 – Provides a hot meal a day for the young people using the day centre, between 3 and 8 people.

$10 – Supports one of the young men at risk to be in an apprentice scheme learning practical skills which will lead to employment.

$20 – Provides heating for 12 days in the winter for the house where our disabled adults live. In the winter temperatures can drop as low as -18 degrees Celsius.

$50 – Sponsors one of the girls at risk a month, providing them with homework help, mentoring, involvement in a social enterprise and also an allowance of $36, which helps provide their family with a much needed income.

$100 – Helps provide an awards ceremony for local schools to honour and support the children who are not honour students but are working hard to do their best, helping to highlight those students who struggle with dyslexia and ADHA.

Thank you so much for taking the time to read this and if you would like more information about the projects that Nightingales run and how you be involved and how to partner with us, then please do not hesitate to contact us on nightingalesromania@gmail.com

06 May

Our Response to Covid-19

As you can imagine we are, as is everyone, trying to react and come to terms with the pandemic of COVID-19. In Romania, those dying as a result of the virus are not as many as in places like, UK, Spain, Italy and the USA, partly because of the tough action the government has taken to combat the spread of the disease.

At Nightingales, due to the coronavirus, we have been ordered to close the coffee shop, which we did the week before the government directives were put in place, to protect our staff and the people using the coffee shop. The project for young women at risk and the young men we mentor is now in operation online as we are unable to meet with them physically. We are, however, able to communicate daily on the phone to check that they are ok. Our key workers have also been able to use What’s App, Messenger and Zoom to be able to speak with them, to check that they and their families are doing well, and to help with any problems that are causing them concern during this difficult time. It is hard not to be able to actually see them as for some this time at home is hard and has thrown up a lot of new challenges that they have to try and overcome. Sadly, not all our beneficiaries have access to the internet so it has been much harder for them to be part of any group activities. With six of the girls, and a number of the boys, we are also able to deliver weekly food parcels to them and their families. These are families which do not have the ability during this time to work and therefore have no income to support their families. Along with these food parcels we are able to give them parcels of activities to complete at home with their siblings to help pass the time.

The disabled adults living in Cernavoda are the group struggling the most during this period; the changes in their schedules have caused some problems. We have been able to give them a wide range of activities to do at the house both inside and out. We have to make sure these young adults are protected and make sure that they are safe during this time, so we have to keep them isolated from close interactions with people outside their home, though they are struggling to understand this. The young people living independently are all well, self-isolating. We are providing them with their shopping on a weekly basis so that they do not have to leave the house, which if they do without the right documentation they can be fined on the spot. By doing this we are also helping to protect them against the virus.

Looking further ahead into 2020, we are unsure when the restrictions will be lifted by the Romanian government. This means that many groups of volunteers from Scotland, England and America have had to cancel their trips to come and support the work that we are doing in Cernavoda, although this is sad, the priority is making sure that everyone is safe and that the guidelines from different governing authorities are being respected. This is unfortunate for our beneficiaries who look forward to these visits and also gain greatly from them. We will be focusing our efforts on how we can best use this time to make sure that the good work that the groups of volunteers provide is not lost.

We are sure that 2020 will be a year that we will never forget, a year that will change us all. It will help us as a charity to make sure that we are supporting our beneficiaries in the long term in the best possible ways, to make sure that the work that we are doing has the greatest positive impact in the years ahead.