Grandparents and other relatives, known as kinship carers, have stepped in to care for around 180,000 children in the UK, turning their lives upside down to keep them out of the care system. They do the right thing, but frequently feel invisible, unsupported and alone.
Grandparents Plus is the only national charity that exists to provide advice and support to these families, most of whom are not entitled to any statutory support.
Kinship carers come to Grandparents Plus in crisis. They are trying to meet the immediate needs of the children they've stepped in to raise and navigate their way through a complex system. The children's early experiences can include trauma, abuse and neglect - most are in kinship care due to parental drug or alcohol misuse, or because of imprisonment, ill health or death. Half of kinship carers give up work to meet the needs of the children, and without entitlement to a financial allowance, they are plunged into poverty.
On top of this, kinship carers frequently struggle to access the practical, emotional and therapeutic support that children who have faced significant trauma need.
One kinship carer provided details of their experience, and said, "You're 'out on your own' and there is no support or help – you are invisible, a non-entity."
Grandparents Plus is a lifeline for kinship carers who have nowhere else to turn. The advice and support it provides is life changing. The charity reduces isolation by connecting with over 4,000 kinship carers and supporting them through their Someone Like Me peer support service. Their advice service supports 2,000 people a year.
A Lifeline For Kinship Carers
The impact of the funding from our players is enormous. Kinship carers who have connected with Grandparents Plus services have said that they:
- feel less isolated and more supported,
- are better informed about their entitlements, rights and sources of help,
- have been confident to take action as a result of the information given, and
- have received the benefits and grants they are entitled to.
This has a big impact on their well-being, their ability to care for their children and build strong, resilient families.
A kinship carer added, "I have felt fully supported and understood every time I rang and was overwhelmed by being able to have a voice and someone to talk to when I was in crisis."