My name is Poppy and I’m a kinship carer to three kin children and proud mum to my 17-year old daughter. I’m the youngest in my family but I’ve had to take on responsibility for my sister’s children.
My nephew first came to live with us when he was just three years old. Pippa, my sister couldn’t cope. She got into trouble and became addicted to heroin. Looking after my nephew meant huge pressure for me and my partner. Not just looking after another child but also the mental affect.
Money was tight and there were huge stresses that came with supporting my sister through drug addiction and going to prison. There was never any help, not financially or emotionally in a professional capacity provided by social services.
“It’s disheartening when you’re trying to do the right thing yet you’re unable to help the children do normal things for lack of money”
Many years later my sister went through rehabilitation, had two more children and lived a relatively stable life until her relapse in 2018.
After some very traumatic events, my sister’s two youngest children, aged just nine and 10, lost their father. Six months later my sister overdosed at home and died. The children’s lives fell apart. They came to me and my sister. I took on two children and my sister took in the other sibling.
I had to give up work. This put extreme financial pressure on me and my family. We were driving back and forth to school, sorting my sister’s things and ensuring that the children could see as much of each other as possible. My eldest sister had given up work due to health issues, but eventually both myself and my sister had to return to work to ensure we could financially support our family.
The additional travel became too much and the cost alone of school transport, meals, supplies, bedroom furniture and clothes all took every last penny we had. It left nothing for any extras including no fun days out. The travel to ensure sibling contact had to be reduced, increasing the emotional issues and limiting any resources to help them cope with the trauma of it all.
It’s disheartening when you’re trying to do the right thing yet you’re unable to help the children do normal things for lack of money or to seek professional help and support to guide you through the complexity of your loss and situation.
The children’s emotional wellbeing became so bad that all relationships broke down. It’s disgraceful.
I’m angry that no one prepared us or supported us through what has been the hardest time of my life. They didn’t even sign post us to any services that may help in the future, no financial assessments, no offer of any ongoing support.
I do not and have not to date received any financial support from the Government. Even when I approached the school and local councils for support in school transport and therapy services for my niece’s trauma, nothing was apparently available.
If you or someone you know is affected by the themes raised in this story then please head to our advice service for help and support.