On Monday 16 October, Kinship held an event in Parliament with attendees from across the political spectrum, to mark the first anniversary of the launch of the #ValueOurLove campaign and the recent publication of our Breaking Point: kinship carers in crisis report.
During the reception, guests were asked to make a promise to kinship carers, committing to use their position and influence to improve support for kinship families. David Johnston MP, the Minister responsible for kinship care, promised “to help shine a light on the important role kinship carers play so that people know how important you are.”
Helen Hayes MP, the Shadow Minister responsible for kinship care, promised “to work for a children’s social care system that supports #KinshipCarers properly.” Munira Wilson MP, who hosted the event, promised “to keep pushing Government to provide financial support and leave for kinship carers equal to foster and adoptive parents, and for more support at school for children growing up in kinship care.”
Other parliamentarians, senior civil servants, as well as representatives from local authorities and other influential organisations, joined Kinship and kinship carer campaigners to mark this significant milestone and celebrate all that the #ValueOurLove campaign has achieved in its first year.
Katie, an aunt kinship carer and campaigner from Yorkshire, moved the audience to tears as she shared her experience of taking in her eight-month-old niece:
“I was asked to drop everything I was doing in that moment to go and collect my niece from my sister’s. She was in danger. I grew up in foster care and was adopted at the age of six. I remember how I felt at times as a small child: unwanted unloved and often frightened. I loved my niece, and so obviously, I said yes.
“I reached out for support – as our support plan said we could – but nobody helped. This is when I met Kelly. Kelly worked for Kinship as a project worker. She was a lifesaver, and gave us hope when we were lost and afraid.
“There isn’t anything we wouldn’t do for our niece, but we all kinship carers shouldn’t have to fight every single day for support. Kinship carers deserve access to emotional, practical and financial support that is on parity with foster carers and adopters.
“Something has to change. The children growing up in kinship care are our future lawyers, doctors, plumbers, teachers – and our future MPs. This is why I campaign, and it’s why I’m asking you to join us too.”
The reception comes at a critical moment for kinship care ahead of the Government’s publication of its first ever kinship care strategy by the end of 2023. Dr Lucy Peake, CEO of Kinship said:
“Over the last 12 months, our campaign has mobilised thousands of kinship carers to lobby local leaders, their MPs and Government Ministers to demand change. […]
“Despite the progress, we still have a long way to go, and the reality is that many kinship families are rapidly running out of time. Kinship’s new report ‘Breaking Point’ found that 19,000 children, enough to fill 665 classrooms, are at risk of entering the care system due to the lack of financial support for kinship families.
“However, the challenges facing kinship families are not inevitable. The right support can and does continue to transform experiences and outcomes.”
For more information about the key findings and recommendations from our Breaking Point report, visit: https://kinship.org.uk/breaking-point/ or learn about our wider policy and research work at https://kinship.org.uk/policy-and-research/.