On Tuesday 5 July, two amazing Kinship campaigners – John and Cath – made the early trip to Westminster to join with other kinship carers to watch and celebrate the introduction of a Kinship Care Bill into Parliament.
John and Cath are two members of our kinship campaigning groups based in Middlesbrough and Newcastle who have had huge successes securing meaningful improvements to signposting and support for kinship carers by influencing local and regional decision makers, including Directors of Children’s Services, service leads, MPs, Mayors and others.
Switching their attention to the national picture, John and Cath joined other kinship carers in Westminster to mark the introduction of a Private Member’s Bill from Munira Wilson MP via a ‘ten minute rule motion’. This marked the very first stage of the Bill’s journey and allowed Munira just ten minutes to make the initial case for the Bill in Parliament. It doesn’t create immediate change, but is a great opportunity to increase support for and awareness of kinship care amongst MPs, and to push the government ahead of their response to the Independent Review of Children’s Social Care.
Here’s what John and Cath had to say about the experience…
Today was a unique and historical day for kinship care. In Parliament, Munira Wilson, a Liberal Democrat MP for Twickenham, supported kinship care by presenting a request for a Kinship Care Act to be introduced.
The request included that all kinship carers are provided with a weekly financial allowance like that given to foster carers as well as paid leave from employment like that given to adopters, plus additional support for children growing up in kinship care so they succeed in education.
Munira gave a passionate and detailed ten minute presentation to Parliament that focused on the difficulties kinship carers have to deal with and the lack of emotional, financial and practical support. She described kinship care as being the ‘Cinderella’ of care services and she also discussed the high number of children living in kinship care and how an increase in support would benefit the children’s lives long term. Munira received no opposition to her request and the 17th March 2023 was set for the next stage of the Bill process to occur.
Attending yesterday made me feel hopeful and inspired me to keep going with our campaigning. When I joined the kinship campaign last year, it was about working together with other people that wanted to create effective change for kinship carers. And yesterday was evidence that we are creating change, not just at the social level, but now at the political level too.
It is just at the beginning of the parliamentary process but from one step will grow into many steps. Munira did not just give a bland speech yesterday – she gave a passionate and emotional speech and she spoke about kinship carers being real people, and this was heard by other MPs. And she and others will keep on making it about real people and other MPs will join her to support change for kinship carers.
It was also lovely to meet people that were linked to other organisations supporting kinship carers as it felt like a united moment. The more that all kinship carers and organisations focused on making change for kinship carers link in together, the stronger we will become in respect of our experiences and need to be supported on all levels by the local authority and in education etc.
It was great to hear Kinship mentioned in Parliament and watching Munira Wilson talking about Kinship from the public gallery in Parliament was very insightful. I saw the Children’s Minister nodding away at what Munira Wilson was saying, so I’m hopeful – but taking with a pinch of salt. It was great to meet up with other kinship carers and network. Overall, a great day and a start to bring kinship to the fore.