Being a kinship carer is something to be proud of!

A grandma wraps her arms around her grandson. They are sitting on the sofa and smiling into the camera Published: 9th Oct 2020

We're celebrating Kinship carers this Kinship Care Week. We want everyone to know that being a kinship carer is something to be proud of.

In 2009, Sandra received a phone call from her brother that change her family forever. He asked her to provide a family home for his 12-week-old granddaughter, Olivia.

Of course, Sandra and her husband wanted to do what they could to help by providing support to both Olivia and her mum, Rachael, at their family home. However, they quickly realised that this wasn’t enough and within a few months Rachael and Olivia had moved into Sandra’s family home.

Becoming a kinship carer

There are over 200,000 carers like Sandra in the UK who look after the children of family members, or friends, who would otherwise go into the care system. Despite the large numbers of people playing this vital role, many people aren’t aware of kinship care or the range of help and support available to both the children and adults involved.

Sandra remembers, “It was a really tough time. When Rachael moved in with us, she was already pregnant with her second baby, so we helped her through the pregnancy and through the sleepless nights that followed. But she just couldn’t take responsibility. In the end we were granted a special guardianship order and Rachael made the decision to move out.”

If you’re a kinship carer you are not alone, and you are doing something to be proud of.

“The girls were so unsettled that they couldn’t sleep through the night for a long time. I’d stay in their room until about 5 o’clock in the morning when they finally fell into a deep sleep. Then I’d try to get two hours sleep before getting them up and start the day.

Juggling the care of the girls with my business was a challenge so I took hard decision and closed it. I don’t regret my decision though and I’d do it all again just to see Olivia and her little sister Aimee doing so well now. It’s been so rewarding.”

Support for kinship carers

In addition to the financial strain kinship carers may suffer, their relationships with the people they’re close to often change too. Sandra explains, “My husband and daughter have always been super supportive, but I did lose a lot of friends. We drifted apart because we weren’t at the same stage of life anymore. Nobody else in their 50s was worrying about bedtime routines and playschool.”

At Birmingham Children’s Trust we know that the social isolation felt by kinship carers has increased during lockdown and local following Coronavirus restrictions. To help kinship carers cope during these extraordinary times we’ve teamed up with Grandparents Plus to extend our support offer to carers like Sandra.

“Even though I’d just moved to Birmingham from London I was told that I could get support from Birmingham Children’s Trust. It’s changed everything.”

Our extended support package includes peer to peer support, access to a community of over 7,000 kinship carers and practical support for coping with our ‘new normal’ to brush up your digital skills.

Find out more about the support we offer 

Cecelia got in touch with our support team earlier this year after struggling to cope with her granddaughter’s behaviour.  “I’ve been a parent but none of my normal parenting techniques were working and Shelly’s behaviour was just getting worse and worse. Even though I’d just moved to Birmingham from London I was told that I could get support from Birmingham Children’s Trust. It’s changed everything.”

"I don't know what I'd have done without my social worker. She's amazing. Everything about my granddaughter's behaviour makes sense now and I know how to support her through therapeutic parenting".

Kinship care is something to be proud of!

Grandparents Plus have produced a new video explaining what kinship care is like from a child’s perspective. It shows the ups and downs of kinship care and the importance of reaching out to people who understand your situation.

If you’re a kinship carer you are not alone, and you are doing something to be proud of.

Watch the video

Get support if you are a kinship carer

At Birmingham Children’s Trust, we are always ready to listen to you and we are open to your ideas abut how we can help you and your family.

Find out more about kinship care support in Birmingham