What can I expect if I am representing myself in court? By Sandeep Sandhu


sandeep-sandhu-cropped-blogWhat can I expect if I am representing myself in court?

By Sandeep Sandhu, Spratt Endicott Solicitors

Going to Court on a family matter can be a daunting experience, however, with careful preparation before the Hearing and seeking legal advice early, you can help minimise that stress.

I am often asked by clients to provide guidance as to what to expect when they represent themselves as a “Litigant in Person” and this article summarises what I would talk through with them before they attend Court.

Remember also, the Judge will know that you are not legally qualified, so do not feel afraid to ask the Judge, or Court staff, if you require any clarification on any aspect of the Court proceedings.

How should I prepare for a Hearing in Court?

  • You should have been given or sent a copy of any applications submitted to Court, as well as a Notice of Hearing. The Notice of Hearing will have the case number, the address of the Court at which the hearing will be held, as well as the time of the hearing, the time estimate and date.
  • In Family Law proceedings you may be contacted by CAFCASS a few weeks or days prior to the hearing. The Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Service (CAFCASS) is a non-departmental public body in England set up to promote the welfare of children and families involved in Court proceedings.CAFCASS officers are trained social workers who are contacted by the Court prior to a hearing being listed to carry out safeguarding checks with the Police and Local Authority to confirm if there are any known safety risks to the children in the case.  In most cases, a CAFCASS officer will contact the parties to discuss any concerns they may have regarding the children.
  • In some cases, you may be asked by the Court to file a Position Statement prior to the hearing. These are usually kept to a certain length and require you to set out what your position is in relation to the proceedings and what you would like to happen to move the case forward, explaining clearly your reasons why.You will need to send a copy to the other parties in the case, as well as the Court, by the deadline given.  You should also make sure the document has the case number clearly written on it as well as your signature at the end of it, along with the date on which you drafted it.
  • If you have a disability, you should inform the Court as soon as possible so that they can try to accommodate your needs to the best of their ability.
  • If you are unfamiliar with the Court’s location, it is always worthwhile to pay a visit to the Court before the hearing to see how long it takes you to travel and to see if there is adequate parking.The Court may however, change the location of the Court (for example, to the Magistrates Court) a day or two before the hearing, so always contact the Court the afternoon before the day of the hearing to ensure that there is no change.
  • There can be a lot of waiting about at Court so remember to ensure you have made adequate arrangements for any child care or work arrangements.
  • Remember to take to Court any Court papers, pen and paper so that you can take notes. You may want to take refreshments with you, although there may be canteen facilities available in the Court building.

What do I need to do when I arrive at Court?

  • Remember to dress smartly but comfortably on the day. When attending Court you will need to arrive early (the Notice of Hearing will tell you how early you need to attend) and remember that even though the hearing may be listed for 30 minutes, you could be there for most of the day.
  • When you arrive at Court and have cleared security, you should go to the usher’s desk, ensuring you have your Court paperwork with you so that they can recognise the case number and confirm that you have arrived. There may be private rooms available where you can sit and, if so, be sure to let the usher know which room you are in so that they can come and find you.  When cases are ready to be heard, the case number will usually be announced over a loudspeaker system so remember to listen out for your case number being announced.
  • It is quite likely that the CAFCASS officer or legal representative for the other party will try and find you before the hearing so that they can discuss a way forward. Sometimes, issues can be resolved before you get into Court, but, if not, the time may still be used productively to see if there has been any change in the parties’ positions.

What is expected from me at the Hearing?

  • Ensure that your mobile telephone is switched off if you have one with you.
  • The legal representative for the other side may direct you, if you ask them to, as to where you need to sit. The Court clerk may also direct you if you ask them to do so when you arrive.
  • Addressing the Judge as “Sir or Madam” is the correct way to refer to a District Judge, however Magistrates can also be addressed as both “Sir or Madam” or “Your Worships”. If however, you are addressing a Circuit Judge, you may have to refer to them as “Your Honour”.  If you are unsure as to how you should address the Court Judge, then this is also something that the Court usher can help with.
  • Make sure you speak when you are asked to speak, do not raise your voice, be courteous and do not interrupt. The Judge may be making notes, so remember to speak slowly and clearly.  Make sure you make notes, remembering to highlight any dates that the Judge refers to as well as any Directions that the Court makes.
  • The Judge may ask questions and it goes without saying that your answers should be truthful and to the point. If you do not understand a question, ask the Judge to repeat themselves.  You may find that the legal representative for the other party to the proceedings may do most of the talking.  If so, try not to interrupt them but write down the point you wish to make and raise it after they have finished speaking.

What if I am too nervous about speaking in Court? 

You may be able to bring a friend with you to attend the hearing.  This friend may be able to come into Court and sit with you, help take notes and give quiet advice to you.  Such friends are referred to as “Mackenzie Friends” and are not necessarily legally qualified.  They cannot (unless given permission by the Judge) address the Court or examine any witnesses.

What will happen after the Hearing?

  • If one of the parties has a legal representative, they may be asked to “draft an Order”. This is simply the formal task of writing the Directions given by the Judge. You may be asked to wait so that the Order can be drafted or the legal representative may email this document to you for your approval the next day or so before it is sent to the Judge for “sealing”.
  • If you are unhappy with the draft document, inform the legal representative immediately so that they have the opportunity make any necessary amendments. This is why it is important to make notes during the hearing so that you can compare your notes to the actual Order.
  • Usually there will be dates given such as when things have to be done by and when the next hearing is. Ensure that all dates are diarised, with appropriate reminders set out in your diary to remind you of upcoming deadlines.
  • Please remember that family proceedings are confidential. Therefore do not show any evidence or Court documents to anyone not involved in the proceedings.

I have many clients that are Grandparents, and I understand the worry and stress that can be caused by divorce and separation.  Instructing a solicitor to act on your behalf can ease much of the pressure and provide essential advice and guidance when you most need it.

Spratt Endicott Solicitors offers a fixed fee meeting with our clients at a cost of £95 (inclusive of VAT).  If you would like to find out more, please contact Sandeep Sandhu, Solicitor at Spratt Endicott, on 01295 204154 or email her at ssandhu@se-law.co.uk.

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Holding Baby by Jan Watts

janblogHolding Baby

By Jan Watts, Writer and kinship carer

‘No, he lives with us full time – like every day. No, his parents don’t live with us. We are raising him full-time. Yes, we are in our 60’s and yes, some people think that’s too old. But if we hadn’t stepped in who would have?’

Our grandson has lived with us for the last three years and we love him and we are coping – sometimes better than other times – but we are coping. We are the invisible carers but I know in some places in the UK we are more invisible than others. Sadly the support we get is in the lap of the gods.

Kinship care is an issue that people need to know about. I am a writer, so I thought to myself ‘what can I do to get the message out there? How can I tell people about the issue of kinship care and maybe improve support for families like ours?’ Then it came to me –  I can write a play about kinship care.

The play is called Holding Baby and is about characters that I have made up. It is fiction but it has been influenced by the people I have meet over the last three years who find themselves in a similar situation. The play is poignant and sad – but it very funny too!

How can you see the play?

The play will be produced as part of The University Of Birmingham’s Book To The Future Festival on 14 October at 7.30 and Saturday 15 October at 2pm at the Chaplaincy, University of Birmingham, Edgbaston, Birmingham, B15 2TT.

This second afternoon matinee performance is especially for people outside the West Midlands to come and see it.

FREE tickets are available through the University website here.

If you want to follow the development of the production and find out more about Jan’s vision for Holding Baby, then you can follow her blog on Facebook.

You can support the project via the play’s JustGiving page.

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Why do grandparents care and why are they important? By Judith Shalkowski

Why do grandparents care and why are they important?

By Judith Shalkowski,

childsside web

There are 14 million grandparents in the UK, many of working age: even among grandparents over 50, a quarter are under 60, and 40% are under 65 (Glaser et al., 2013). 

In Britain, 17% of grandparents with a grandchild under 16 provide intensive levels of childcare of at least ten hours a week and around one in thirty provides full-time care to, or lives with a grandchild (Wellard, 2011).  Grandparents Plus: Grandparenting in Europe October 2014

Grandparents are one of the largest groups of unrecognised and unpaid resources in children’s lives. Government and local authorities do not provide support or even acknowledge this group. It’s amazing in the age where children get nursery places from age two, and maternity leave typically is up to one year, that nobody seems to be interested in ‘who’s raising the kids?’ Grandparents Plus has been raising the profile and national awareness of the role grandparent’s play since 2006.

In addition, The Wave Trust states that the first 1001 days are critical in a child’s development both emotionally and neurologically. This information has become the foundation of many government and local council objectives and outcomes.

This is where ChildsSide comes in. We believe in grandparents, in their unfailing love and dedication to their children, families and grandchildren. Grandparents too have a right to access current information on brain development, emotional connections, and to gain new practical skills and tools to help children cope and thrive in this fast-paced modern world.

We value a grandparent’s unique role of wisdom combined with empathy, understanding, love and attachment to enhance the grandchild’s emotional growth, stability and resilience. Grandparents not only provide their family with emotional support but often financial and practical help too. This delicate balance can strengthen family relationships and wellbeing, calming chaos and alleviating stress for busy parents. Increasingly, grandparents are an intrinsic part of current family life; their role, and the benefits of their enhancing it, grows in society.

ChildsSide has been awarded Big Lottery Funding for their Older Yet Wiser© Project for grandparents in Leeds.

There is no other course like Older Yet Wiser, an informative series with innovative workshops that promote the value of the modern grandparent role. The free six weeks of two hour practical workshops are for those with any caring responsibilities for grandchildren aged eight and under. The crucial foundation of the Older Yet Wiser Project features positive relationships and up to date information on child development. Topics include: feelings, communication, listening, problem-solving, engaging cooperation, child-led play, and are informed by evidence-based research on the brain within a unique resource pack.

Further programmes are being planned so check the ChildsSide website for further information.

Website: www.childsside.com
Email: info@childsside.com

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Have you listened to The Archers recently?

7Have you listened to The Archers recently?

By Jo Raine, Advice and Information Manager,
Grandparents Plus

The Archers on BBC Radio 4 has been grabbing a lot of headlines recently, with its story about domestic violence and emotional abuse.  It’s undoubtedly the case that the programme has raised awareness of these issues and the devastating effects of being in an abusive relationship.

The storyline reached a climax when Helen stabbed her abusive husband Rob, for which she is now in prison awaiting trial.  Her young son Henry initially went to stay with Helen’s parents who have always had a very close relationship with him.  However, Rob refused to return Henry to his grandparents’ home  after a visit. Henry’s grandparents went to court to challenge this, but were granted contact with Henry for just one day a week, pending a further hearing.

Soaps are often criticised for unrealistic and sensational storylines. However, denied contact and conflict over where a grandchild should live are issues faced by many of the grandparents who contact our advice service and helpline.

If Henry’s grandparents, Pat and Tony, had contacted Grandparents Plus for advice we’d have directed them towards obtaining some legal advice from a specialist in child law, given the complex circumstances of their case. However, every situation is different, and sometimes matters can be resolved through communication within the family, or with the help of a mediator.

If Henry does come to live with them, Pat and Tony’s need for advice is unlikely to end there. When grandparents take on the care of their grandchildren, they continue to face practical, emotional and financial challenges. Grandparents Plus’ advice service is designed specifically for grandparents and other kinship carers. We understand the challenges and can provide information, advice and support on issues ranging from  financial support, benefits and housing to children’s special needs and behavioural issues.

Need support and information?
Lost contact with your grandchild? Visit our information pages or call the Grandparents Contact Helpline on: 0300 033 7015

Looking after a relative’s child? Visit our advice and information pages or call the Family and Friends Advice Line on: 0300 123 7015

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From Playground to Prison: Supporting a grandchild with a parent in prison by Patrice Lawrence

From Playgroup to Prison: Supporting a grandchild with a parent in prison

By Patrice Lawrence,
Development Officer, Clinks

There is a heart-breaking book called The Road to Low Newton.  It is based on a photographic project about the lives of women who served sentences in HMP Low Newton, a women’s prison in Durham.  Besides each individual portrait, a woman tells her story.  Many experienced or witnessed abuse, violence and addiction in their families or communities and all struggle with substance abuse.

Many of the women are also mothers.  While some are able to care for their children, others have been unable to cope.  Their children are in foster care or adopted, others are living with grandparents – short term, while the mother serves her sentence, or, as in Clare Maclean’s case, as a permanent arrangement.  She says,

My son lives with his father’s mum. I haven’t seen him for six years. I write to him every fortnight and I send him presents at Christmas and on his birthday.

She is hopeful that face-to-face contact will begin again soon.

This story is repeated many times, up and down the country as grandparents juggle the needs of their grandchildren as well as the children’s parents serving custodial and community sentences.  As the women’s stories show, resettlement following release is not easy.  Self-harm, poor mental health and drink and drug addiction remain live issues making it tough to create a suitable home environment for a child.

So how do grandparents cope?  Some may be caught in the middle.  The children they are caring for may be missing their parents, but may have suffered neglect or witnessed violence. Children affected by family imprisonment often talk about stigma and isolation, as well as mixed feelings about visiting their parent inside.   Guard dogs, body searches, the locking and unlocking of metal gates and the formal setting of visiting halls can be frightening.

Then add to that the distance and costs of visits.  As research shows, kinship carers rarely have money to spare and may feel the impact of future welfare cuts.  Access to training to help them to support the children in their care as well as direct services for the children vary from area to area. In the meantime, the grandparents’ own son or daughter may have urgent needs – homelessness, recovery from addiction, managing poor mental or physical health.

My role at Clinks is to raise awareness of the impact of imprisonment on family members.  Family support is often an essential element of preventing reoffending, but families’ experiences and the services that support them often receive little attention.  I will be visiting organisations and projects, talking to families and prisoners, building an evidence base to raise the profile of families and family support.  More information about my work can be found here.

If you are caring for children whose parents are in prison, here are some places where you can go for additional support.

  • Pact is a national charity which supports people affected by imprisonment. They run prison visitor centres’, deliver relationship and parenting courses and operate a helpline for the families of prisoners.  A befriending service and peer support groups offer more personalised support.
  • Partners of Prisoners (POPS) is based in Manchester, providing information and support to the families of offenders from their earliest contact with the Criminal Justice System to post-release, across the Greater Manchester area.  POPS also run visitor centres, work with other agencies to support prisoners’ families and have particular experience of working with black and other minority ethnic families.
  • NEPACS works in prisons across the north east of England, running visitors’ centres, play facilities and tea bars. They organise special visits for children so they can spend quality time with their parent, learning through organised play activities.  NEPACS helps about 500 offenders and/or their families each year with a small grant to help them through financial difficulties and provides free caravan holiday breaks for up to 40 families with a relative in prison each year.
  • Ormiston Families Unite Programme operates in at least ten prisons across the east of England.  Their services include running visitors’ centres’, organising family-friendly children’s visits, accredited parenting courses, family liaison and community work.
  • Spurgeons run visitors’ centres in prisons in London and Winchester and deliver targeted programmes for young offenders or those at risk of offending – including mentoring for young people in custody, and family based intervention to prevent offending and reoffending. They also offer specialist support for children experiencing the loss of a parent through imprisonment and community support services for the families of offenders.
  • Adfam is a national charity supporting families affected by drink and drugs use.  They offer advice, information, opportunities to share experiences and peer support groups.
  • The Offenders’ Families Helpline and website has a wealth of practical information about all aspects of the Criminal Justice System from arrest to release.



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Let’s go back to the start by Vicki O’Leary

vickiLet’s go back to the start

By Vicki O’Leary
Kinship carer

Where to start a blog about my life? They say the beginning is a very good place to start so let’s go back there. I’m an adoptee and have the most amazing parents. They were always extremely good role models when I was growing up. They worked hard and were very loving. That being said, later in my life when my granddaughter needed someone to love and care for her I couldn’t face the thought of her being adopted. Yes I had had a great experience but that doesn’t mean I wanted my grandchild to be adopted. I was around and she was mine.

Although, I had ‘done my time’ and had brought up my children I knew I could do this again and well frankly knew I had to do it again. I was afraid that social services would deem me and my husband not good enough, after all we had obviously failed somewhere. I mean, one of our children could not look after their child and had failed so we must have failed somewhere too? But, hang on, our other children are hard working adults all doing a wonderful job so can we really be to blame? At what age does your child need to take responsibility for their actions and when we do the parents stop being accountable?

My husband and I, with the support of our family stepped forward and said that we would care for our granddaughter full time. It wasn’t an easy process and the sheer stress of assessments, being in and out the court arena for two years was harrowing to say the least but thankfully we are a strong family with good friends. I was especially close to a kinship carer who lived locally. We became great friends and would meet up on Fridays and share evenings of wine and gossip, while she helped write our statements. We had to do it ourselves as we had run out of money and so had to self represent. Sadly, in a wicked turn of events I lost my sidekick and best friend a couple of years ago. I will forever be grateful that I knew her and for all the guidance and support she gave me.

In turn just as I had been helped I decided I was now in a position to help other kinship carers. I am a supporter of Grandparents Plus and the vital work that they do for all kinship carers and I am an administrator for a local and national online support group Kinship Foster Carers. In fact I am now one of the lucky ones who get to arrange Kinfest – an annual holiday for kinship carers.

Now five years on my little darling granddaughter has just started school and my dad has permanently moved into my house as he is now unable to live alone. Suddenly, this wonderful man who loved and cared for me now needs me to step up and tell him that it’s all going to be okay and that he can live with me. Yes this means more unexpected life adjustments – we have given up our living room to make it his bedroom which means the conservatory will now be the dining room and the dining room the living room. Who needs a conservatory anyway?

In a way it’s exciting. There will be four generations ranging from 5 to 88 living under one roof. My roof. And as I go from gloves on to cream my dads leg to putting my granddaughter’s hair in bunches for school I know that it’s all worthwhile and that I am not alone. I have my kinship friends and family, how could I ever feel alone? And I know that one day in the future my husband and I will do the things we have been planning and will be care free.

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We will be heard by Alex.

A1We will be heard.

By Alex
Young person raised in kinship care

We are a group of young people who attend a Kinship Care Group in Liverpool. As far as we know we are the only group for young peoples being raised in kinship care in England.

We recently held a conference to raise awareness of kinship care from a young person’s perspective. The conference was held in Goodison in March and we were very proud of what we achieved. We decided that we needed to target professionals who work in social care and education as this is where we need to raise awareness. We worked very hard as a group to provide all of the professionals that attended with information. We used personal stories showcased through a variety of methods including presentations, soundbites and a monologue to show the very real challenges that we have had to face in our lives. At the same time we also wanted to ensure that we showed the positive experiences we have had being part of the project.

The aim of the day was to raise awareness of what kinship care is and show that kinship families need support. We feel that our families are often forgotten about and have gone unnoticed in the past. We shared our experiences with the professionals that attended because we wanted people to truly understand what kinship care is and what we have to deal with. We hope from doing the first ever young person’s conference that it will bring about change and hopefully other young people will know about us and can be supported. On the day we wanted action! So we asked all the professionals to make a pledge and tell us how they will support kinship families going forward.

At the conference we were joined by Sam Smethers from Grandparents Plus who kindly offered to give an explanation on what kinship care is; Pauline Thornley our project Co-ordinator who works full time for the project, our local Member of Parliament Stephen Twigg who praised our project and talked about how he would like to continue to help and support us. Bernie Brown the Assistant Director of Children’s Services , also spoke about how much she enjoyed visiting the project and meeting us as well as our kinship carers. She made it clear that she is eager for our Local Authority to work with us.

A lot of thought and time went into the preparation of the conference. We decided that two exercises were needed. Firstly we quizzed professionals about what they knew about kinship care and then went on to ask them to make a pledge. I am happy to report that both went really well and we received lots of ideas.

As young people we were pleased on how the day turned out. Our aim for the future is to be able to hold a National Conference and bring about real change for kinship carers and their families. We also think it would be great if there were other groups like ours across the country as young people need support and advice as much as our kinship carers do.

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Four Nans by Margie, Bernadette, Kathy and Julie.


Margie, Kathy, Julie, Bernadette

Four Nans

By Margie Jone, Bernadette Whyte, Kathy Feeley and Julie Howard
Kinship carers

The four nans meet once a week when their grandchildren are in school. They met through a local C.A.H.M.S (Child Adolescent Mental Health Service) group for Looked After Children based in Liverpool. Unfortunately the group closed due to funding but the Nans went on to organise their own group.

With help from a professional wrtiter, Deborah Morgan, they have written a book which they hope will raise awareness of kinship care and bring about change to ensure all kinship children are supported. Deborah worked with the group to mentor them in writing their stories straight from the heart about living through harsh experiences. Here is one of their poems.

Four Nans

We meet once a week
When our grandchildren are at school
We talk about our lives
Rearing our grandchildren
Our love for them
Our fear’s for them
What’s happening to us?
Getting taken to court
With no financial help to defend ourselves
No help available when we need support for our children
With special needs
Guardianship order with promises of support not available
Tears, laughter, dreams
Lots of tea and coffee
And hope we can change a couple of things by sharing our lives.


If you would like to buy a copy of the book please email alana.genge@grandparentsplus.org.uk or call Alana on 020 8981 8001.


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We demand recognition! By Janellen Redington & Robert Gilburt

JanWe demand recognition!

By Janellen Redington
Kinship carer

Since becoming a kinship carer almost three years ago, I have learnt to become a mum to babies and toddlers again. I’ve remember what sleepless nights are like and how hard they make it to get up for work the next day! I have resurrected my ‘100 things to do with mince recipes’ and ‘100 things to do on a rainy day’ book.

Sadly, I have lost some friends and family along the way as a result of them finding it difficult to adjust to my ‘change of circumstances’. That’s not to say I haven’t gained a lot too. What I have gained (apart from three adorable children) is a wonderful extended family of kinship carers, their children and their kinship children. I have made some new best friends who I know will be friends for life. I have also had some of the most memorable days  of my life with my new kinship family –  Sunday 19 April 2015 was one of them.

My fellow kinship carer Vicki came up with an idea. She thought we should make our voices heard and arrange a protest march in London before the General Election. “Of course I’ll help organise it” I say, words I began to regret as our chosen date loomed ever closer and I was being quite ineffectual. Some weeks later and nothing done, “I can’t do it” I say to Vicki, feeling like I had completely let her and the group down. But hope was not lost as another kinship carer, Paul, gallantly took up the reins and co-ordinated with Westminster Council, the Metropolitan Police and Downing Street. Unfortunately our proposed march could not take place due to a number of other events taking place in London on the same day but not all was lost as we were allowed to protest across the road from Downing Street at Richmond terrace.

Managing to get on top of my workload just in time I threw myself back into it again, able to help with some other very important items on our agenda. I now know how to set up an online petition and have realised just how much work it involves. Let’s just say I have never spent so much time on social media! I found my biggest hurdles were firstly, motivating kinship carers to get involved and to actually do something positive about their situation rather than just sitting back and moaning about it and secondly, trying to engage people in conversation about a subject that they may never have heard about.

I am now a pro at using a megaphone and speaking in public (very loudly!) I have learnt that whatever your fears, you can overcome them with the support of good friends and having  passion about the cause you are backing. I have learnt of the generosity of people you have met for the first time and the lengths some will go to support their cause. I have also learnt that the Metropolitan Police are very polite and friendly (well at Downing Street anyway) and that the cuts must be taking effect everywhere – including Downing Street, as we saw a woman entering with two huge value brand high street chain store bags.

Sunday 19 April was a very special day spent with some very special people, in our beautiful Capital City. We shared an experience many will never have the opportunity or determination to do. Over 250 people wanted to protest with us but could not for a number of reason, notably for many it was lack of funds or lack of childcare. This alone makes me more determined to keep fighting for recognition, financial provision, training and support.


Some of the kinship carers who took part in the protest.

The Protest

By Robert Gilburt
kinship carer

They have all been down to Westminster
By train by boat and plane…
Supporting kinship families
lots of people came…
Isn’t it time we were recognised
For the jobs we do…
We look after others children
Something birth parents can’t do…
These children are mostly our grandkids
Who would otherwise be in care…
We do this though our retirement
Is this really fair…?
So to help us look after these children
And give them the support they all need
Could you please sign our petition
That would really be a good deed…

  • You can still show your support by signing the petition here.
  • Further details of the Kinfest group who arranged the protest can be found on their website.
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My letter to Warren by Paul Rutherford

Paul blogMy letter to Warren

By Paul Rutherford
Kinship carer

Warren has been living with his grandmother, Sue, since he was 20 months old and will be 16 in October. Paul met and married Sue in 2010 and has had a strong bond with Warren ever since.

Warren has Potocki-Shaffer Syndrome (PSS) which is extremely rare with less than 100 known cases in the world and Warren may be the only person in the UK with the condition. As a result of PSS, Warren has particularly complex mental and physical needs and requires lifelong 24-hour supervision. This is Paul’s letter to Warren.

Dear Warren,

When people ask us why Nanny Sue and I are looking after you and how we manage to at ‘our age’ its really very hard to know what to say to them. It is harder for us now we’re older than if we were your Mum and Dad. If we didn’t love you as if you are our own boy, we wouldn’t be able to look after you. We know we might not always be able to be happy and smile all the time. We know sometimes you must get fed up with us, but you are the most important person in our lives. You are our family now. You, Nanny Sue and me.

You know there are lots of other people, of all ages, in our ‘big’ family, but they don’t really help us do they? But your Aunts are looking after your cousins and some of them live too far away. Nanny Sue and I only have help from the carers who help us look after you; but it is just a job to them, and as you know, they all leave us after a while.

Did you know there are thousands and thousands of other Nannies and Grandads who look after some of their grandchildren like we do? Some of those grandkids have special needs or disabilities like you, and lots of the kids might be upset or angry because they can’t live with their Mums and Dads. They are all lucky kids though, because their Nannies and Granddads have chosen to look after them. If they hadn’t, most of those kids would have had to go and live with strangers: people who they don’t know. Some might have had to live in special homes with lots of other children.

It must be awful for you sometimes, not being able to talk to us. We know it upsets you because we see it in your eyes. We know you try to hide your frustration from us and we know you listen when we talk to you – mostly! I love your sneaky, crafty sense of humour and you often make Nanny Sue and me laugh and smile. When you do that we are extra-glad you live with us. We want you to stay with us always.

If we were as old as Mums and Dads usually are, we wouldn’t worry so much about what will happen to you as you grow up and become a man. Nanny Sue was 60 last week, and you know I’m not very well. I think you know, in your own way, how we worry ourselves sick about what will happen to you when we can’t be with you any more.

Because we can’t work, we have to rely on money from the government to be able to look after you; to get all the special equipment and some of the help we need. We are frightened that the people in the government will get grandparents like us ‘mixed up’ with people who are looking for jobs and say we can’t have as much money. We are frightened that when you are 18 they will say you are grown up and we don’t need as much money to look after you, even though you will still need just as much care.

We’re also frightened that somebody who doesn’t know us might say we are too old to look after you and take you away from us. I hope that such a situation never happens because we know how much you want to be with us, and I promise I will fight anyone like that as hard as I can.

Perhaps only other Nannies and Granddads know just how we feel, how we worry so much, how scared we are that you might be left alone one day: alone with strangers who don’t know you, and who are only looking after you because it’s their job.

How will anybody who doesn’t know you understand what you want or what you need? How will a stranger know when you want to lie down, want to go out, want something to eat or drink, or watch something different on tv? How will a stranger know which music you like to listen to in bed, in your van or when sitting in your wheelchair? How will a stranger know when you’re sick or just tired?

Nanny Sue and I worry so much about all these things. We worry if the council will really let you stay in this bungalow that was built specially, just for you, or if they’ll just put you in a home because they say it will be cheaper for them. We know you would hate that and it would make you very, very sad.

We worry that someone will say they don’t have enough money to pay for all the care you need now, and will always need. You don’t know what the government is. You don’t know what money is or where it comes from. But you will need to be looked after all the time for as long as you live. Who will make sure you’re looked after properly after we’ve gone? Where will we find someone to do that?

Warren, I’m sure there are lots of other Grandparents who understand exactly what I’m trying to tell you. We all have to hope and pray that you will be looked after just as if it was Nanny Sue and me still with you. You deserve nothing but the best, Warren. But you know that for now, you are safe, cared for and loved, and always will be for as long as Nanny Sue and I can be with you.


You can read Paul’s other blogs by visiting his website here.


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