Shadow minister for children and families Emma Lewell-Buck MP paid a visit to one of the country’s most underrepresented carer groups at a meeting in her constituency last Friday.
The South Shields MP spent some time with a support group made up of kinship carers – family members who take on care of children when their parents can’t look after them – who are taking part in Relative Experience, a groundbreaking project to improve the lives of kinship carers across the North East.
The North East of England has the highest prevalence of children – around one in 70 – being raised by kinship carers in England. These carers are often facing the unexpected challenge of bringing up children in difficult family circumstances without access to local authority support.
‘The meeting was a great opportunity for local carers to share their experiences with Emma,’ said Lucy Peake, CEO of Grandparents Plus. ‘It was an emotional meeting as lots of kinship carers are dealing with difficult family situations and raising children with very little financial and practical support. They say that the support group, and meeting others in their situation, has been the thing that has kept them going.’
‘We hope to continue to work with Emma to improve support for kinship carers in South Shields and nationally. If you are a raising a relative’s child and need support and information contact the Relative Experience team on 0191 257 2504.’
Relative Experience, a unique project delivered by charity Grandparent Plus in partnership with Family Lives to support kinship carers across the North East, has given over 500 kinship carers access to specialist help, support groups and a befriending service, transforming the experience of both carers and the children they’re raising.