We are so proud of kinship carers and the amazing job they do. There’s no denying that, raising relatives and friends’ children can be tough. Our project workers and advisors hear what kinship families are up against every day, but they also hear about the love that drives them to do it. We know that with enough support and a loving community behind them, the strength and resilience of kinship carers shines through and kinship families thrive.
2020 has been an extraordinary year for everyone, but for kinship families it has been especially hard. Many carers are older, with health conditions and are having to cope with shielding, isolation and home-schooling children who need routine and stability in their lives. But kinship carers are exceptional people. Many have got online, helped and supported each other and talked honestly about their own experiences. So, when they turn to us for help, we do everything we can.
We know the hard times are not over, but we want to reflect on some of what we have achieved together this year and thank everyone who made it all possible.
Advice, grants and benefits
kinship carers were helped by our Advice Service who guided them through the complex legal, financial and practical decisions they have to make for their families and followed up the conversations with 9,940 pieces of tailored information.
was secured by our grants volunteers, for kinship carers to buy essential household items.
in means tested yet unclaimed benefits was also secured for kinship families by our advice team.
“Thank you so much you can’t understand how much this will change and make things easier for us, we’re forever grateful”
Supporting kinship carers
kinship carers made one-to-one appointments with our specialist project workers who helped them with more specialist concerns like maintaining contact with the child’s parents, managing children’s behaviour, signposting to local support and resources and just being there to talk to when they are feeling overwhelmed.
“I was overwhelmed and desperate
but Grandparents Plus has been life-saving”
kinship carers have completed our Kinship Ready preparation training, to get them ready for what can be a daunting role, and we are now talking to more local authorities about making this available to kinship carers in their areas.
“I absolutely loved it! It is amazing to connect with people and to hear their stories and their experiences. I received very valuable information. Thank you!”
return on investment was made by local authorities using our Kinship Connected support programme. This was reported by an independent evaluation of the service by Starks Consulting Ltd and Ecorys. Other findings were that kinship carers had increased confidence, felt less isolated, and saw improvements in their children’s development and behaviour. You can read the evaluation here.
“My project worker has eased a great strain off my shoulders – she has shown great care and knowledge for each of my needs.”
Thank you volunteers!
We are grateful that kinship carers are so determined to give up their rare free time to make a difference – sharing their experiences to raise awareness and volunteering to support others.
kinship carers trained as a Someone Like Me volunteers – giving their time and sharing their experiences in phone calls with over 308 other kinship carers who found great comfort in talking to someone who had been through it all themselves.
“You get a lot out of helping other people. You can really hear the difference from the start of the call to the end in terms of their mood and sense of ownership. Knowing you’ve had a positive impact on someone’s life, and that it will impact their family too, is really important”
Thanks to the amazing volunteer support group leaders – many taking on the role virtually and are building the much-needed local community support networks which are even more necessary during lockdown.
Our kinship community
Kinship carers shared their experiences in our various surveys, meaning that we could go to the government and local government with clear evidence and statistics about the support kinship carers need. And this also helped Grandparents Plus to develop support that meets the needs of carers through the pandemic and longer-term.
Kinship carers are now part of our Kinship Community receiving regular newsletters, sharing their stories and giving us feedback.
People are in our Facebook Community – staying connected, having discussions about current topics, sharing their experiences and supporting each other.
Supporting families through COVID
We moved quickly when the COVID pandemic hit, and using evidence from our kinship community surveys, we secured funding to support kinship families. Funding from the Department for Education, the local authority managed Adoption Support Fund, the National Lottery Community Fund for Wales, and a generous corporate donation, meant that we could speedily develop and launch our Kinship Response programme which offers virtual one-to-one appointments, support groups, and advice and peer support to help people through the pandemic. 93% of kinship carers say they feel more confident in their caring role, 92% report having reduced concerns about their child’s wellbeing and 78% feel less lonely.
Kinship Care Week 2020
Only when society understands and values kinship care will kinship families get the recognition and support they deserve, so we are determined to keep spreading the word.
“Brilliant. Innovative, informative and incredibly moving.”
“This is awesome! Grandparents are the rock!”
“It brought tears to my eyes! I love it. So simple yet effective.”
People watched our kinship care story on ITV News, and we placed 22 other media stories about kinship care throughout the year, including in The Mirror, Woman and Home and BBC Radio 4 Woman’s Hour. This means that more and more people know what kinship care is and are watching and reading about the challenges and joys faced by kinship carers in mainstream media.
We continue to grow
We want every kinship family in England and Wales to have the support they need, but that’s a big goal which we can’t achieve alone, so we work with other organisations to help deliver this vision.
Local authorities now partner with us across England and Wales so that more kinship carers have access to the support they need.
Social workers and other practitioners who work with kinship families and are now in our Kinship Professional’s Network sharing good practice, the latest research, and attending events, so that we can all work together to offer the best possible support to kinship families.
3 staff are now dedicated to expanding our work in Wales, including a Welsh-speaking project worker and very soon a Welsh-speaking advice worker. We’re now working in 8 Local Authority Areas in Wales and supporting 6 kinship carer support groups to meet online monthly.
“The support group has really helped me emotionally and made me feel positive. Meeting up once a month really helps when times are tough at home”
We have some big plans for 2021 too!
In early 2021 we will be developing and testing a new digital platform co-designed with kinship carers, which will help kinship carers easily find the information and advice they need at the beginning of their kinship journeys. Thanks to the National Lottery Digital Fund
of people we consulted, think changing our name to better reflect that we are here to support all kinship carers, not just grandparents mean that more people will find us to get the support they need, including all the aunts, uncles, siblings, other family members and friends raising relatives children. We think that all kinship families deserve a national charity, named for them, that will stand beside them and fight their corner, so we are excited to be planning this change in 2021.
Thank you to all our supporters
Judie McCourt representing People’s Postcode Lottery and Grandparents Plus
We couldn’t do any of this without the support of our generous funders, the trust of the local authorities who commission our services and the tireless dedication of our staff. Together, with kinship carers leading the way, we will continue to strive for a society in which all kinship carers and the children they care for are recognised, valued and supported – and we won’t rest until we have achieved it.