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 Karen’s story with you.
Karen became a special guardian to her one-year-old grandchild in 2020 in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. Life in lockdown has been particularly challenging and the sudden and huge change to her family dynamic has been as difficult as it has been rewarding. Becoming the full-time carer of a young child was not something she was prepared for, especially when still caring for two of her sons.
Karen has felt increasingly isolated during the transition into her kinship carer role. Lockdown has not only increased her social isolation but has made it difficult to access the level of support and interaction she required from social services and fellow kinship carers. She told us she felt alone in her new role as a special guardian. As with many carers, the sudden addition of a new child to the family has an impact on space and housing. Lockdown has made what space we have at home incredibly important, and for many of us who are at the limits (or passed them), of our home’s capacity – the last eight months have been particularly difficult. Karen had significant issues with housing and reached out to us for support.
How we helped
Karen was linked to one of our project workers for one-to-one support via our Kinship Response programme. Karen worked with our project worker to uncover issues and areas where support could be provided. Various resources were explored and Karen was referred to Therapeutic Parenting. She was connected to our friendly advice team who were able to support her in resolving her housing issues. With the support of her project worker Karen was connected with a local support group. Karen has joined the group and it has made a positive impact on her life as she attests here:
“I knew about Grandparents Plus but I didn’t know I needed them until now! The support has been amazing and I feel less isolated because I have met people in the same position as me. I also feel less worried about my housing and know there is support there.”
Through the mix of peer support and professional advice and guidance, Karen has been able to make significant positive changes. The feeling of isolation has lifted and a new network of kinship carers is now available to her. She has begun to work on improving her ability to cope as a new kinship carer for a very young child and is on the journey to securing support to improve her housing situation.
If you are a kinship carer and would like to access free support, please click here to sign up now.
If you would like to share your lockdown story please click here. We would love to hear from you and share your story with our community.
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