It’s Kinship Care Week in Scotland this week and so far it’s been a cracking one, raising awareness of the amazing work of kinship carers and kinship care families throughout Scotland. Maree Todd MSP, Minister for Children and Young People, attended the kick-off event in Inverness on Monday and met with kinship carers face-to-face to hear about their experiences and the challenges that can face kinship care families in Scotland.
As Kinship Care Week continues, we’re asking everyone across Scotland one simple thing: let’s all Value Kinship Care. The work kinship carers do and the love and support they give to the children in their care is invaluable, not just to those children but to society more generally. Kinship carers often go unappreciated and unsupported, even at a local level. As a result they can be made to feel invisible and forgotten; their important role unrecognized. This week is all about changing that!
In that spirit, you can read about the experience of Pearl, a kinship carer, and her granddaughter Christine, here:
Pearl and Christine
Christine is 14 years old and has lived with her Granny, Pearl, since she was 4. Pearl has found things difficult over the 10 years Christine has lived with her. She has had to give up her job and so struggles financially. She has also found aspects of Christine’s behaviour hard to deal with.
Pearl has never sought help. She is an informal carer and so has had no support from her Local Authority. In fact, Pearl only realised she was a “Kinship Carer” two months ago, when she built a friendship with another carer through a community group.
Pearl heard about Mentor UK’s work with kinship carers through this friend. She heard that Mentor and Big Hearts ran groups and family days for Kinship Carers and the children they care for and so she decided to take her granddaughter along and find out what they were all about.
On the day, Pearl felt amazed by the amount of other carers in the room and the amount of support and advice available to her. She went around all the tables collecting as much information as possible and spoke to a number of workers from different agencies, giving out her details.
Mentor UK staff contacted Pearl the next week and asked if they could come and meet her. From this meeting, a relationship was quickly established and Pearl now has a designated support worker who meets her weekly. She has attended a local support group and found it really useful and has formed friendships with other kinship carers. Staff members have also met Christine, who agreed to come to our teen activities. These focus on giving kids in kinship care the opportunity to have a good time, but also aim to boost their confidence through encouraging team building with other young people.
Pearl is extremely happy she came along to the kinship care open day and has told us, “It’s so nice to have someone I can turn to when I have a problem. I have dealt with everything all on my own for so long, but at last I feel like I’m supported”.