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 Pat’s story with you.
Pat lives in London. She is a special guardian and alongside her husband, looks after her step-grandchildren, aged two years and eight months. Pat and her husband recently became kinship carers when the children’s parents were unable to look after them because of learning and mental health difficulties. This coupled with the recent lockdown measures has made home-life extremely challenging.
They are finding the adjustment to caring for their two young grandchildren difficult, not only because taking on a baby and toddler after not looking after children for many years has been a steep learning curve, but the two-year-old also has some behavioral issues, not uncommon for kinship children, who have often suffered trauma.
Sometimes the new family dynamics and stresses and strains of looking after such young children at a time they thought they were going to relax, leads to arguments between Pat and her husband.
How we helped
Pat was referred to our Someone Like Me service so that both she and her husband could speak with another special guardian who has experienced similar issues. This service provides emotional and practical support from other kinship carers who have similar experiences. It can be a lifeline to kinship carers who need to talk to someone who understands.
They are also planning to attend a local virtual support group (find one near you here) and have received information about accessing couples counselling and therapy for their two-year-old.
We all need someone to talk to at times, and Pat told us: “I feel better just from chatting with you.”
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.