My name is Shanayd, I am the creator of Kin2Kin support group based in Ealing. My desire for creating this support group is to connect with fellow kinship carers and share our experiences to better understand the challenges kinship carer’s face daily. From our experiences, my goal is to push for reform to special guardianship legislation and hopefully raise further awareness about kinship carers, who are definitely unsung heroes.
I am a kinship carer for my one-year-old niece, the sixth child of my eldest sister. Sadly, her other five siblings were placed in foster or adoption placements, my sister has a history of substance misuse and mental health conditions which has impacted on her ability to care for her children. Prior to my niece coming to live with me and my daughter, I had not been in contact with my sister for nearly 20 years due to my mum giving up parental responsibility of my sister at age 14, following her first birth. At the time when social services first made contact with my family I was working full time and studying law at university. Due to my niece’s young age I had to give up both of these to take on full care duties.
I contacted Grandparents Plus soon after I got my special guardian order. I had previously researched the support offered to kinship carers. Initially, I just wanted to be linked to other kinship carers local to me and signposted to services that I could get additional support especially given the impact COVID-19 has had on my family. It was through this I found out about the Someone Like Me service.
I was very pleased with the Someone Like Me service and I was happy to talk to someone who could fully understand me and my journey so far as a special guardian. There was no judgement, I felt safe to speak freely and share all my worries about being a new kinship carer. I was feeling so low and isolated, but the Someone Like Me service helped me to talk through my emotions and I was able to reflect on my situation. It gave me comfort knowing that I wasn’t alone and it helped motivate me to get involved in supporting other kinship carers. I was able to recognise that my story is similar to so many other kinship carers. I found such value and self-assurance through this. I could now see how important my personal needs are whilst being the best carer – without feeling guilty for making time for my own self-care.
I think it’s wonderful that fellow kinship carers are volunteering their time to provide peer support to other kinship carers. I believe it will help many kinship carers who are feeling alone to talk with a volunteer who understands them and can give them the reassurance they need. There isn’t one answer to resolve all the challenges we face as kinship carers, but I felt a sense of comfort from being able to share my challenges with someone willing to listen. I believe the best education in life can come from our own experiences. The Someone Like Me service allows kinship carers to use their personal experiences to provide emotional support and empathy to others, which is invaluable.
My final words, remember to be kind to yourself too. As kinship carers we can easily forget our own needs and allow the pressures of trying to please everybody else to become overwhelming, but don’t lose sight of how important you are.
Need support? If you need to chat with another kinship carer over the phone, we can arrange that through our Someone Like Me service. Get in touch here.
Want to support others? If you want to support other kinship carers and become one of our wonderful Someone Like Me volunteers, please get in touch here.
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