Kinship carers have been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic in so many ways. Over the last nine months we have had to adjust to a ‘new normal’; a world full of uncertainty, change, isolation and anxiety. Grandparents Plus have been doing all we can to support kinship care families across England and Wales in this unprecedented time.
Through our Kinship Response programme, dedicated to supporting kinship care families during the pandemic, we have helped families in 68 boroughs across England and Wales. Our dedicated team of project and advice workers have delivered much needed and life-changing support to families.
Over the next few weeks we wanted to share some personal stories from kinship carers. Today we want to share Anna’s story with you.
Anna is in her 50s, she is a special guardian to her granddaughter, Maisie and her grandson Billy. This is her story.
I was asked to have my granddaughter Maisie in 2016, while my husband was fighting lung cancer. She was only six months old at the time. Although she isn’t my husband’s ‘blood’ granddaughter, he didn’t hesitate to take her into our home, despite the fact that he was so sick and having chemotherapy.
Throughout all this, Maisie was like a bright light in our home, a gift. I don’t know what I would have done without her.
I got a special guardianship order in 2017, but sadly my husband passed away in 2019 just before Maisie was three years old; leaving just the two of us.
Two days before he died, my daughter had another baby, a little boy. But sadly, he suffered a bleed on the brain and is severely disabled. He suffers seizures and is blind. I felt like this was the worst time of my life.
My daughter and I had had no contact for a few years, and initially, my other daughter was going to take my grandson to look after, but when I saw him for the first time I fell in love. Social services asked me to look after him. I actually took him in August during a break between lockdowns.
I have been looking after him since then, and I am still getting used to it. The support just isn’t there in the same way at the moment. For instance, I desperately need first aid training because his needs are so high, but I still haven’t got it.
I currently live in a two-bedroom bungalow, but until my assessments are finished social services won’t do anything to help with adaptations. I am struggling with my car, because my grandson is such a big boy. I recently decided I would like to move to be nearer my family, because they live over 100 miles away and I feel very isolated where I am. I know finding somewhere suitable isn’t going to be easy.
I can honestly say if I had not had both my grandchildren, I would not have coped as well as I have with the death of my husband.
They have got me through this. Maisie talks about her grandad every single day. She was attending full-time nursery, and then that stopped. When school started, she was brilliant. She seems to deal with it all so well.
However, it has been a struggle at times, especially with my grandson during lockdown.
It’s hard work. I didn’t think at this time of life I would be a carer for two young children. My biggest fear is if my grandson goes into hospital. I have no one to leave Maisie with and if I catch Covid, who will care for them? I feel very vulnerable.
My hope for the future is to be near my family, and also for my daughter to be involved with her children. She is doing so well at the moment, despite having suffered from domestic violence. She wants to see her children and help in some way. We could be a team.
If you are a kinship carer and would like to access free support, please click here to sign up now.
Join our Kinship Community to receive stories like this direct to your inbox.