As lockdown continues into its ninth week we just wanted to say a big thank you for everything kinship carers are doing for their families right now. We know it’s immensely tough and we want you to know that we are here for you – our free advice line is here and we are doing what we can to raise your voices to secure clear guidance and better support from the authorities.
We are continuing to track the concerns and experiences of kinship carers across the country as lockdown continues and we wanted to share some of these with you here.
We hear that you’re feeling exhausted – trying to juggle child care, home-schooling, keeping up with the shopping, and financial stresses; with very little extra help. We also know you are extremely worried about what the easing of restrictions could mean for the health of your families. Here are some of the experiences you have shared with us.
“There are no support services for me out there to gain internet access. I have to rely on my phone that has limited data due to financial difficulties. School has had to put money into my bank for school meals, as I could not access the website to redeem my free meals vouchers. These are just a few of the issues I have experienced during this lockdown”
“Since taking on my grandchildren I have had to keep working full time to support them. I am currently a key worker trying to juggle work, home-schooling and two young boys being stuck indoors.”
“My 14-year-old granddaughter who has emotional problems due to early years trauma refuses to help or cooperate with anything including her school work.”
“I suffer from a condition that puts me at risk. I’m worried about the children’s return to school. The oldest is finding the isolating and the stress of producing school work very difficult. This has impacted his self-esteem and is adding to his anxiety. The younger one is already receiving therapy. Financially I’m finding things difficult as I’ve recently had to retire due to ill health.”
“All five children are arguing a lot, and as a consequence one is starting to get violent and started attacking me physically (at one point) and often verbally. Before when things got too much for him he would go to his dads, but he is unable to do that at the moment.”
“I’m not coping well, what with husband been tested positive [with COVID-19], and the little one been poorly. It just seems to get me down; throughout the day, trying to do things around the house and with children. I am usually a strong person, but even this has pushed me to the limits. I can see the end of this coming, so I am really forcing myself to bounce back. Loneliness is hard.”
So what we are doing?
Our advice and support teams have been working incredibly hard, extending their hours, helping to meet the increased demand due to the impact of COVID-19. Our advice and support service continues to operate daily from 9.30am to 3.30pm and from 8pm to 9.30pm on Tuesday and Thursday evenings.
Our lines have been incredibly busy. We wanted to share some recent feedback on the impact of our advice and support teams. One of our project workers, Maxine Campbell, received this message from kinship carer Paul:
“When I got the call that I had been awarded the grant by Kathy (Grandparents Plus advice service manager) I got so choked up. As a grown man I had to hold back my tears, I nearly cried! Seriously – I’m so grateful that in these perilous times there are others in this world that actually still love people and care about the well-being of others. I’m so grateful to each and every one of you In grandparents plus ❤️🙏🏾Immensely.”
We are continuing to raise your concerns directly with decision-makers. The Newcastle West Kinship Care support group held a zoom meeting with Catherine McKinnell MP, chair of the Parliamentary Taskforce on Kinship Care. Carers talkedabout how they are having to look for work whilst caring for their children with additional needs, as well as their concerns about children returning to school and what this could mean to vulnerable families. They also discussed the challenges of needing to shop with children when there’s no one else there to care for them, and the challenges of home-schooling, especially with children with additional needs. Catherine also heard from carers about how the role of virtual school heads could offer greater support if it was expanded to include all kinship carers and she gave the carers an update on the progress of the Taskforce. We will continue to inform MPs about your concerns and how they could help.
Our teams have been working hard to make sure all our guidance is up to date and answers the questions kinship carers have been asking. Please go to our website for information on everything from socially distant contact arrangements to the latest guidance on schools reopening. Please let us know if there is any other information you would find useful for us to add to our website by contacting firstname.lastname@example.org.
Stay safe everyone and please keep your stories coming in so we can continue to shine a light on your experiences and push for change. To help us do this, please fill out our ‘Tell us your story’ form.