Putting the ‘Grand’ in Grandparents By Joshua Barlow

Josh blogPutting the ‘Grand’ in Grandparents

By Joshua Barlow
Young person brought up in kinship care

I remember when I was in my teens and I would tell people I lived with my grandparents. Some would ask why and some would make their own conclusions but the truth is that some people find it difficult to be parents.

In my case it was illness that affected my mum’s ability to bring me up, she had Chronic Kidney Disease and although she tried her best her health got in the way and I found myself setting up home at my grandparents.

It started with summer holidays. Once the bell rang to signal that the school year was over my home for the next six weeks became that of my grandmother’s. I had spent most of my youth here anyway; hiding under and behind the sofa, hiding under the stairs to scare people and curling up on the rug and falling asleep in front of the fire – with the cat of course.

So when I moved into the house in 2005 aged 12 I was already part of the fittings and fixtures and like a jigsaw piece I slotted into the bigger picture without much effort. I can only imagine how difficult and life changing it is for the grandparents themselves. In a heart beat they go from stuffing their grandchild’s hands with sweets behind their parent’s back, to being their primary carer. It was this shift in relationship that was the most noticeable change in my life. My grandparents and I found ourselves trying to change with the dynamic and adjusting to new rules. Things were no longer as easy as they once were.

My grandparents had to teach themselves how to bring up a child again. They had thought they had completed their parenting years, yet here they were with a teenage boy who was just hitting puberty. Although there was a shift in the rules all teething problems were quickly resolved and everything went smoothly.

GP+ 200,000 webI feel lucky and know that I had it a lot easier than some young people in kinship care. Currently there are over 200,000 grandparents or other family members (kinship carers) bringing up a child for reasons outside their control. These are the people who appear to have been forgotten.



GP STAT web picLike mental illness, kinship care is something we need to speak about. With seven in 10 kinship carers feeling isolated, stressed and depressed it’s about time that we stood up and gave the support to those who take on the role of a parent once again and do such wonderful jobs.

There are a variety of ways you can show your support. You can sign up to the #timetocare campaign, support the vital work of Grandparents Plus by giving a small donation or simply by giving a kinship carer you know a shoulder to lean on.

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“Go Grandparents Plus, Go!” By Janellen Redington

janellen web1blog1“Go Grandparents Plus, Go!”

By Janellen Redington
Kinship carer and future celebrity

The weekend was lost in a whirlwind of cleaning, washing, ironing and baking. We were preparing for the onslaught of numerous visitors on Monday for our monthly support group coffee morning, which we had delayed as Alex and Josh from Making cakes for coffee morning 2the BBC were coming to film us as part of the Grandparents Plus Lifeline appeal.

After putting a post on our Facebook Group inviting our members, we opened it up to the other groups. Our good friends from West Sussex decided to send a posse to join us and so we hosted our first ever cross county support group exchange!

tedI roped my husband and my daughter in, I was going to need all the help I could get as the number of attendees started to grow – who else was going to do the washing up? We had invited Kristopher the Travelling Ted as honorary guest because I know how much he loves my lemon drizzle cake.

The morning started as all mornings in this household do, in chaos. Children running about, tripping over each other and us, the dash for the bathroom and general haste to get us all up and breakfasted before 9am (OK it was 9.15 today). Then another rush to vacuum again – I don’t actually have OCD, but I do have two cats and a dog who moult as if I had a hundred lazing about on the carpets and rugs.

A quick run upstairs to reapply my lipstick and throw my head upside down in the vain hope my hair would gain a bit of ooommph, only left me breathless and dizzy. Despite being tantalising for some, is not a look I would recommend when opening the door to people you haven’t met before. I hadn’t frightened too many people off and soon the house was buzzing. Alex and Josh had arrived and were setting up in the front room. “It’s OK, today will be less intense than last Friday” Alex assured me “today is more like wildlife filming.” Yes Alex was planning on filming us grazing around the watering hole, more usually known as my dining room table.

Sam and Alana had brought more cakes, biscuits and lots of Grandparents Plus materials and Kristopher was dressed in his best Grandparents Plus T-shirt. Our situations are serious and so our conversation turned serious, we discussed a lot about what we would like to see happen, and how we could help to promote Grandparents Plus.

012Alex and Josh had been filming us all this time, ‘can you please pass that cake over again?’, ‘and again?’, ‘and maybe again?’ – yes even cake passing is an art that needs to be performed exactly. Poor Linda had to wait for her carrot cake, mouth drooling, as it was waved in front of her and retrieved three times. At one point I looked up and saw the camera being pointed at me through the back window, Alex and Josh had escaped the house and gained entry to the back garden.

The morning quickly moved into the afternoon. Vicki reminisced how our dear departed friend Laura would have loved today, the people, the cause, and most especially the cameras! Our guests began to depart, Josh and Alex first having managed to get all the shots that they needed – I am sure my derriere got in there again somewhere. Then everyone else felt it was okay to beat a hasty retreat from the chaos. I love them all, they made the morning a huge success. Vicki, her daughter and granddaughters stayed for a while afterwards to deconstruct the morning.

Would you do it again? I asked myself. Well yes, despite the shiny face, posterior shots, breathlessness and dizziness, I can say that without a doubt, I would do it again. I have met some truly wonderful people, I had an experience I will never forget, with stories to tell the grandchildren for years to come, and, I fervently hope, I have helped a cause close to my heart. Go Grandparents Plus, Go!


Janellen has shared her favourite Lemon Drizzle Cake recipe which you can find here.

You can watch the Grandparents Plus BBC Lifeline Appeal here

You can keep up to date with the Appeal here.

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“Watch it as a family with tea and cake” by Pat Sansom

Pat blog“Watch it as a family with tea and cake”

By Pat Samson
Kinship carer

Being part of the Grandparents Plus BBC Lifeline Appeal has been a great experience. I was hesitant at first but was sure that I wanted to take part and support the vital work that the charity does.

Grandparents Plus has been extremely helpful to me and my husband Ivor. We first found out about them on holiday by another kinship carer and they have been our lifeline ever since. They have answered so many of our questions and are always there ready and waiting for more.

As filming day arrived I was shocked by how relaxed I was – no nerves at all! (It makes me think I should have had a career in TV.) The BBC team are lovely to work with and just put us all at ease, it was such a pleasant day. My grandchildren Holly and David had fun and are looking forward to their five minutes of fame.

Pat and familyAs a family we are just happy that we could help support Grandparents Plus in this way and raise the profile of kinship care. As the 14 December approaches the excitement is building and we are planning to watch it as a family with tea and cake.

It would mean a lot to us if you watched it too.

Many thanks

Pat & Ivor.

You can watch the Grandparents Plus BBC Lifeline Appeal here

You can keep up to date with the Appeal here.

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“It’s all for a worthwhile cause” by Janellen Redington

janellen web1blog1“It’s all for a worthwhile cause”

By Janellen Redington
Kinship Carer & future celebrity

If you have ever considered that TV presenting was glamorous, think again. I have just finished a full day of filming with the BBC for the Lifeline appeal in aid of Grandparents Plus and am exhausted. I guess we’ll be having a takeaway for dinner (again). Since having the grandchildren we have eaten more takeaway’s in the past two years than in the past 10 put together! But a day of filming on top of having the children doesn’t merit a measly meal deal, a full blown Chinese is on the cards – with wine and an early night!

The day had already started early, as the twins have learned to climb out of their cots this week, oh joy. The previous night I think Hugh and I had been upstairs to put them back to bed at least 5 times each. Also Finley had been unwell with some viral infection and spots – wasn’t he going to look nice on camera- and he was particularly grumpy and difficult! After rushing around getting everyone dressed and breakfasted the doorbell went, I already had butterflies, these instantly turned into dancing elephants in my tummy.

False alarm. Just as the adrenalin levels were beginning to normalise the doorbell goes again, it’s Josh the researcher, along with Alex the producer and their apprentice. Those elephants started to perform a whole dance routine within seconds. The ‘crew’ were very nice and we started with a chat and a look around the house, some drinks and histrionics from Finley. Luckily my eldest daughter, Lucy, was on hand to help look after the children.

Hot, bothered and with my hastily applied makeup sliding down my face, Alex starts to set up the camera. I am rigged up with a radio mike, tucked gracefully into my knickers.  Now I feel like a weather forecaster, shame I don’t look like one. My hair is scooped up behind my ears and my shining face is, well, left shiny, no make-up artists for me.

Janellen's kidsI am asked to play with the children, so there I am on hands and knees, huge backside on camera, crawling around the living room. Finley decides he has to sit on my lap so I can’t see or get to the girls. Lilly thinks the camera is wonderful and keeps running up to it to look at it and Chloe is totally intrigued by the microphone, which she proceeds to squeeze in her hands, ohhh she squeals in delight. Chloe does a puzzle as Lilly and I roll a ball between each other. We managed 45 minutes of ‘playing’.

It’s lunch time for the kids, and the Alex suggests filming me making their lunch.  It’s not very Nigella Lawson, but I can rustle up their usual fare (which honestly isn’t very exciting at all, they’re 3 and 2!). So there I am getting hotter by the second, bumping into the island unit – why? It’s been there for two years! I am then asked to stand and watch them eat? I think to myself ‘wow this is going to be riveting viewing!’

Now fed, the twins needed a nap, I tuck the girls in and leave the room, it took three takes just to get me looking in the room! How difficult can ‘looking’ be I ask myself?

Then downstairs to tidy up the toys, ‘this will make a good shot’ – oh great, more shots of my backside as I crawl around the floor picking up toys. Be prepared for 2 minutes of viewing my derriere from various angles, some of which my husband hasn’t even seen I’m sure, and I’m no Kim Kardashian, hot and sweaty as I was.

blog2 imageFinally it’s time to do ‘the interview’ . The lights are rigged up, chairs are moved, the clock is taken off the wall (ticking!), and my daughter has to leave to go to work so the 18 year old apprentice (4 weeks into the job) is left to babysit an unwell 3 year old. We finish the interview and it’s time to get the girls up, chance for another shot, this time of Finley playing in his room.

As the ‘crew’ tidy up Alex tells me how good the children were, and the dog – who’d been locked in the front room all day – and that he thought it all went very well. Really? I glance in the hall mirror and see a dishevelled, shiny, old woman looking back at me – nothing like Nigella Lawson or Kim Kardashian at all.

Never mind, my posterior is going to be on the BBC! I have a bottle of wine chilling and it’s all for a worthwhile cause, after all there is only so much cringing you can do!

You can watch the Grandparents Plus BBC Lifeline Appeal here

You can keep up to date with the Appeal here.

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“I’m going to be on the telly!” by Janellen Redington

janellen web1blog1“I’m going to be on the telly!”

By Janellen Redington,
Kinship carer & future celebrity.

I have to say it isn’t very often you receive a call asking if you would like to be on TV. My initial reaction was, wow, why me?   I am always one for chipping in and doing my bit and as I have grown older I made the decision to always say yes to new experiences – within reason! So rather rashly, and in haste, I agreed without really knowing all the details. All I knew was that I was one kinship carers Grandparents Plus had approached to help raise awareness and much needed funding via the BBC1 Lifeline Charity appeal.

I don’t have much time nowadays to watch TV, but I do remember seeing these appeals from some time ago, in my pre-grandchildren life. They show a couple of case studies and the affect the charity has had on their lives. It’s usually fronted by a well-known celebrity and ends with a request to make a donation to the charity to help fund the vital work that they do. I visited the BBC webpage and watched the latest appeal to refresh my memory and in doing so remembered that in the past I have often felt that any small monthly donation I could make would be pointless when the charity needs millions, and although often moved by the stories I rarely did anything to help.

Well that mind set has changed. I know first-hand what it means to have a need that is not being met anywhere else and I am now the recipient of the benefits of a charity working for my cause. I know what it is like feeling isolated and having to go through a difficult situation alone but I also know what it is like being able to connect with an organisation that can and does support me when I need it. Grandparents Plus has provided me with the opportunity to meet others in similar situations, ordinary people going about their everyday lives. People whose lives are turned upside down and changed forever, often without warning, and nearly always without support or guidance of any kind.

At the age of 46 I would never had thought that I would be spending my entire adult working life bringing up children, from starting my family at 21 to finishing raising my grandchildren at the age of 64 (if I, or they, live that long! And there are days when I seriously doubt that). Being able to call someone when it all gets too much, or accessing invaluable information and advice. Grandparents Plus really is my one-stop help shop.

Having support from Grandparents Plus has also given me the strength to try and support others. With friends and other kinship carers we set up our own local support group where we try to meet up regularly, even if it’s just for a coffee. It’s amazing the mutual understanding we have of each other’s situations and feelings, sometimes you don’t even need to talk about it, just being together is enough. I’ve made some wonderful friends, lifelong friends that I would not have met if it hadn’t been for our situations, so although it is hard and tiring and relentless I wouldn’t change it for the world.

So here I am preparing to be interviewed on camera, telling the world (well a few million people) about how I ended up with my three grandchildren, why their parents were unable to look after them, why I needed support, why I felt so isolated, and what Grandparents Plus has done for me. All in the hope that people will listen and give money so that their work can continue. I am preparing to put myself under public scrutiny, and believe me when I tell you I am terrified, I am not a ‘natural’ camera person, I shy away from pictures being taken let alone a full blown TV camera.

girlsWhilst feeling very pleased with myself about my contribution, I told my very good friend and fellow kinship carer Vicki about the BBC coming to my house to film me. She very quickly smashed any illusions of grandeur I may have had, by telling me that Grandparents Plus were only interested in getting the twins on camera! And who can blame them, they are such cuties.

Reality is now sinking in and as filming day approaches fast my reaction is more, oh my goodness what have I let myself in for. But this charity, this cause, the work that they do, is so very important to me and all kinship carers, that I am ready to share my story for them.

You can watch the Grandparents Plus BBC Lifeline Appeal here

You can keep up to date with the Appeal here.

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It could happen to you by Alana Genge

Alana Genge WebsiteIt could happen to you.

By Alana Genge
Communications and Marketing Assistant, Grandparents Plus

Right now, there are 200,000 grandparents and family carers (kinship carers) raising children in the UK. If you are not already one of them, you could be in the future. Grandparents and the wider family step in to raise children for a number of reasons: parental death, drug abuse, illness or imprisonment.

But how many people know that 7 in 10 grandparents and other kinship carers report being stressed, depressed or isolated? I recently received a letter from Maisie, a kinship child, who wrote to say that her grandma often “…feels isolated and different to others, almost as if she is not normal.” We need to raise awareness of the struggles of kinship care, and ensure that the government recognises that people like Maisie and her grandma all across the UK need policy changes to ensure kinship carers are supported.

An exciting (and sometimes sad) fact about life is that we often don’t know what lies around the corner. We can all make plans, but what if circumstances change? What if your retirement becomes a demanding full-time job of raising your grandchildren with no support or income?

You may not be one of the 200,000 kinship carers currently raising children, but you can support them by signing up to the Grandparents Plus #timetocare campaign here.

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“We are the lucky ones.” By Ashleigh O’leary

AL“We are the lucky ones”
By Ashleigh O’leary

Ashleigh’s parents have been kinship carers to her niece, Kacey, for the last five years.

I was 15 when Kacey moved in with us permanently. I had just finished my GCSEs and had started working towards my A Levels. My parents obtained a Residency Order for Kacey when she was only 8 months old.

Although my parents did most of the work when Kacey was a baby, I had to step in and do my share of the caring. Before the Residence Order, I would have her overnight and then get up and go to school or I would have to go and check on her before school. At one stage we were having her 4 or 5 nights a week.

My brother is Kacey’s dad but his relationship with her mum wasn’t great, it was unstable and Kacey was neglected. It was really hard for me and my parents, we tried to help as much as we could and at one stage Kacey and her mum moved in with us but it just didn’t work.

Although I am not a kinship carer, I have had a great in-put and say in Kacey’s care. Sadly kinship carers are often forgotten and it is not recognised that they need the same support as foster carers. There is a sense of inequality to it all.

It is always quite difficult trying to explain our situation. People just don’t understand or want to understand. Even some of our wider family don’t understand why we have Kacey, they think we should have left her with her mum, but that just wasn’t an option.

A lot of people question whether Kacey should be with my parents because they obviously didn’t do a good job the first time around with her dad. Of course this isn’t true my parents are fantastic, they are the kind of people that want everyone to feel welcome in our home and would do anything for anyone. My sister has a Masters Degree and is a teacher in a secondary school (she is a super mum), I am doing just fine and work as an Early years Practitioner and my eldest brother is doing great too. It is not my parents’ fault that one of their children couldn’t bring up his daughter.

We are all so close and we couldn’t imagine being without Kacey. My parents are doing an excellent job bringing her up and she is a very happy, bright and confident 4 year old. People often say that Kacey is lucky to have us but we simply reply by saying “No, we are lucky to have her.”



Ashleigh’s post highlight some of the problems that kinship carers face. We think it is #timetocare about kinship care.

For more information please visit our #timtocare page here.

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Kinship carers must keep speaking out. By Julie Myers

Kinship carers must keep speaking out Julie M  

By Julie Myers
Kinship carer

Julie Myers has a Special Guardianship Order for her five year old granddaughter Rebecca. After being forced to give up work when she took on care of Rebecca, Julie has become an active campaigner on kinship care and was shortlisted for Campaigner of the Year at the Grandparents Plus Kinship Care Awards 2013.

The one thing I asked for when we took on Rebecca was to keep my job.  We really relied on my income and I loved my work, so giving it up was a last resort, but in the end I felt I had no choice. We had to re-mortgage the house we had so nearly paid off, and for the first time in our lives we found ourselves in debt. 

All we needed was a bit of support and the time to get our lives back in order and get the SGO sorted out. We were trying to give Rebecca a secure loving home but we found ourselves worrying about just keeping a roof over her head. It doesn’t make sense to say, “take on this child but we’ll take away your financial security”. It’s just so short sighted.

What’s more, when you lose your job, you lose your self esteem. You become somebody that’s not considered useful and for me that was horrendous. I felt totally demoralised. I had left school at 15 to help put my brother through college, and had only taken 8 months off work on maternity leave in 34 years. From humble beginnings I had ended up working in my local school doing something I really loved and it meant such a lot to me. The headmaster seemed to really believe in me and had suggested that I train to become a teacher.

Suddenly I had to give up my job, my security and my social life. I found we had people judging us, making us feel that we couldn’t have been good parents and that I wasn’t a good grandparent as I was upset all the time and I was struggling to make the right decisions. It’s a good job my husband and I are rock solid- we’ve been married 30 years- but if anything could have broken us it would’ve been this. I ended up having counselling. I kept having panic attacks because all I could think was if I die who’s going to look after my grandchild?

All sorts of things have happened to me in my life, but I have found this the hardest. I spent a lot of time thinking, what can I do? I wrote to the Prime Minister, I wrote to the Deputy Prime Minister, I met with local MPs and Councillors. I really wanted to get across what’s happened to us but in a constructive way, so that it might help someone else in this situation. I got to the point where I thought right, I’ve got to leave it now and move on. But then I thought no, I don’t want someone else to go through what I and my family have gone through. People like us, kinship carers, they need people to speak up. And that’s my mission now.

Without Grandparents Plus I think I would have gone completely under. It made such a difference to have someone on the end of the phone, and it was just so great to meet other people in the same situation, it made me feel so much more confident. Getting involved in the Month of Action in 2012 and going to London for the Kinship Care Summit, I felt so empowered. I felt like the person I used to be when I worked. Campaigning has helped me to regain my self esteem and feel valuable in some way. That’s so important to me and it’s a good role model for Rebecca

Last year, I agreed to tell my story at the kinship care event in Yorkshire. I was so nervous. I didn’t want to be depressing or overly critical of the professionals there, and I wanted to show how by being positive and proactive kinship carers can make a difference to our own lives and to the lives of the children we care for. The minute I started talking I felt the compassion and the good will of the people in that room, many just like me. I realised that kinship carers must keep speaking out and eventually we will be heard and given the recognition and support we deserve.

It is #timetocare about kinshipcare.

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Generation generosity: Working grandparents face growing childcare pressure by Sam Smethers

Generation generosity: Working grandparents face growing childcare pressure.

By Sam Smethers
Chief Executive, Grandparents Plus

New Ipsos Mori polling evidence from my charity Grandparents Plus, the Family and Childcare Trust and Save the Children published today provides further evidence to support the issues raised by the TUC’s Age Immaterial report.

We found that 14% or nearly 2 million grandparents have either reduced their hours, taken days off sick or given up a job to provide childcare for their grandchildren – 1.4million grandmothers and nearly half a million granddads. It’s still older women who are more than twice as likely to drop out of work or reduce their hours to provide care for their grandchildren but granddads are clearly playing a significant role too.

40% of grandparents provide childcare to help parents get to work. That’s 2.3million grandparents. 17% or 1 million people said it was because parents couldn’t afford childcare. Significantly we also found that those who provide the most care are also the ones who are most likely to provide financial support.

This suggests that we are loading up a significant minority of grandparents with both caring and financial pressure. Indeed 12% said they felt under pressure to financially support their grandchildren and just over 400,000 grandparents have reduced the amount they save for their pension to give money to grandkids.

So what does all this mean? Grandparents have always helped out with childcare – they are the single biggest source of childcare in the country – and they probably always will. True. But those aged 55-64 provide the most childcare, followed by those aged 65-74. This generation of grandparents are expected to stay in work way beyond 65. 3 in 10 also have their parents still alive. We are loading them up with caring responsibilities and telling them to work longer too.

So we want to see a strategic investment in formal childcare, to take the pressure off working grandparents as we cannot assume they will continue to fill the childcare gap. But we also know that parents usually combine formal and informal childcare, so we want to see a period of grandparental leave to give them an entitlement in their own right to some of the same workplace rights as parents.

Contrary to the prevailing debate about the ‘burden’ of the ageing population, resources of time, care and money are passed down the generations from grandparents to grandchildren far more than they are in reverse. In fact we found that grandparents are 3 times more likely to say it is their responsibility to financially support their grandchildren than the other way around. Grandparents who spend time caring for their grandchildren are also more sympathetic to public spending on benefits and services for children and young people. Caring for grandchildren may make you more sympathetic to the interests of future generations?

But the truth is not everyone has a gran and granddad to rely on. If we don’t invest in the childcare infrastructure we will see a growing inequality between those who have grandparents to fall back on and those who do not. This will mean parents, particularly mothers working below their potential, their families worse off as a result and the economy missing out on their skills and productivity.



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Relationships should be at the Heart of Well-being. By Sam Smethers

Sam Smethers photoRelationships should be at the Heart of Well-being

Sam Smethers,
Chief Executive, Grandparents Plus

The essence of modern living is quality of life.  We don’t just want to live longer, we want to live healthier, longer lives.  We don’t just want to define ourselves in terms of our work but also how we spend time with our families or our leisure time. Increasingly monetary measures simply do not fully reflect the things that really matter to us and define our lives.  The Office for National Statistics has begun to collect data on the nation’s well-being and the Commission on Well-being and Policy is proposing that government should make policy which enhances the nation’s well-being.  That would be wonderful to see. Perhaps the spare room subsidy and the imposition of zero hours jobs on the unemployed would be rather more difficult to justify? We may have a way to go on that front.

The Commission categorises drivers of well-being as either economic, social or personal. Measures include unemployment, family life, and mental health.  But are some indicators more important than others?  For example, should we consider relationships alongside other factors or should we be looking at their interconnectedness and treating relationships as the foundation stone to everything else?  Is there a hierarchy that we are missing? Do good relationships effectively mitigate against negative experiences elsewhere? Is it possible to improve the well-being of others while experiencing poor well-being yourself? For us, relationships are key and need to be given due weight in the well-being debate.

Evidence suggests that is true for the estimated 300,000 children who cannot live with their parents and who are being brought up by up to 200,000 grandparents or wider family carers. Firstly, research shows that children living with wider family generally do well, better than children in the care system.  Yet their prior adverse experiences are very similar (parental alcohol or drug misuse, abuse or neglect, disability or mental or physical ill health, imprisonment or bereavement). Their carers are likely to be living in poverty, half give up work when they take on the care of a child.  But the continuity, stability and love they offer is key and more than offsets the other negative circumstances.  Yet while the children do well, the carers’ well-being suffers.   In one study two thirds showed signs of clinical depression. Grandparents Plus’ own annual surveys regularly find 7 in 10 are stressed, depressed or isolated.  The effect of taking on the care of a child, often in difficult circumstances, affects their relationship with their partner. It displaces other relationships in the family and can cause conflict.  It often means they lose their friends as well as lose their job. Yet they remain committed to the children and so often they won’t give up even when it becomes extremely difficult for them.

There are many policy and practice changes we want to see which would give carers in this situation a better deal.  But we have to persuade others to change in order to do that.  A focus on improving well-being means we can also do something to help individuals by addressing their personal relationships and social isolation.  The Relative Experience project offers trained befriending and providing peer support, which is evaluated using self-reporting and measuring progress on a well-being scale means we can help them to change their lives.  So far we have seen carers grow in resilience, confidence and life-satisfaction as a result of providing an active listening, befriending model.  So even if nothing else changes they will be better able to cope. But also better able to take steps to make changes in their lives, such as addressing a child’s behavioural problems, asking for support or getting a job which will then improve their economic, social and personal well-being.  With a relatively small, low coast intervention we are connecting and improving personal, interpersonal and societal outcomes.  I like to call it providing emotional central heating and weather proof clothing. We haven’t managed to change the weather yet but we can at least ensure the carers we work with are better equipped for it.

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