Campaigning for Kinship Care by Paula Pawley-Smith

Campaigning for Kinship Care in June
by Paula Pawley-Smith,
Kinship Carer to Jake aged 3

Apparently this is blogging – another new skill I have gained since becoming a kinship carer. I’ve learned so many skills since I started raising my cousin’s little boy, including how to care for a child with foetal alcohol syndrome, how to navigate the family law system and, not least, campaigning.

Kinship carers are relatives or friends who are raising children who cannot be cared for by their parents. June is the Grandparents Plus Month of Action when kinship carers across the country will be raising awareness about just how valuable we are to the children of this country.

We’ve already been lobbying people of importance in government. We persuaded Ministerial Advisor on Adoption, Martin Narey, to meet us after his speech at the Community Care Live conference for social workers.  He kept his promise, firstly by supporting kinship care in his speech,  and then by listening to our issues afterwards in a compassionate way.  He even agreed to read “The Paula Report” which I wrote in answer to his “Narey Report” on adoption. This is just one of the ways us kinship carers have had to learn campaigning skills to get our voices heard.

Now we are into June and the Month of Action. On 12th June, 40 kinship carers from all over England will have the chance to lobby government at a national summit. Without us children would be sucked into a care system which is already under immense pressure and struggling to cope.  I am proud to be able to represent carers on such an important day.

Then on 30th June there’ll be chance for kinship children and their carers to get together, at a theme park, and realise that they are not alone, that there are other children who live with their “Nannie” or “Granddad”, “Auntie” or “Uncle”, brother or sister. I hope the British weather will be kind and the only wet clothes will be from the water slides!

When I first became a kinship care, I had no idea that a whole new life would open up for me.  I have met the most amazing people and more importantly learnt that together you are stronger.  We have all achieved so much – but there is so much left to achieve.  For me I would like to see kinship carers sitting on placement panels for kinship care cases, a national set amount for special guardianship allowance, and for this allowance to be awarded using a standard means test used by every local authority.  These are my dreams and I hope through campaigning I can help make them a reality.  What are your dreams and hopes for us?  What will you be doing to realise them?

Get involved in the Month of Action here!

 

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11 Responses to Campaigning for Kinship Care by Paula Pawley-Smith

  1. Gemini says:

    our 3 grandchildren came to live with us 10 mtonhs ago ages are 11 9 2 also their father came till he gets re housed .If he wasnt here i would have had to give up work as the children were verey angry and upset as their mother is a alcholic and the children had suffered a lot that we never knew about .They are now thriving and are well settled at school and play group for the wee one .Sadly we dont get a lot of support from family members who seem to resent the children being here does anyone else have the same problem.

  2. Brenda Reeves says:

    Well done Paula, this might have been written by me, except that I don’t have your experience of the the social services quagmire!

    Stupidly, I stepped in too soon and social services were quite happy to just let me get on with it and close the file on my 2 grandchildren. I gave up work, applied for a residence order which was granted without dispute from their mother, my daughter, and am now struggling on the basic benefits I’m entitled to. Despite lobbying, pestering and generally making a nuisance of myself I’ve got nowhere with KCC – apparently the most closed council in the country according to research.

    Thanks for waving the banner, I’ll do all I can from my end but that’s a tough wall we’re banging our heads against ! x

    • Paula says:

      Hi Brenda,

      Sorry to hear you are having a hard time with KCC. There is a support group in Canterbury which is in it’s third successful year and we welcome new Carers.

      Please feel free to come along and meet other Carers and to also get help and advice.

      Please contact me on at pawleysmith@aol.com for more details.

      Kind regards

      Paula

  3. claire plevin says:

    Paula it’s brilliant what you are doing. two and a half years ago my son and I became kinship carers for my daughters two boys. Life has been incredibly hard since then and caused some major rifts within the family. My son was still young free and single when he offered to take Ryan on, both little ones are disabled, very few people see what a cracking job we are doing and we didn’t do it for the money but some recognition would be great. We even help each other by providing each other with respite care. Social services and some other professionals are really useless and if they had done more and listened to us 5 years ago those little boys may still be with their mummy.

    • Paula says:

      You are doing a marvellous job under difficult circumstances. Having disabled children drains you of energy and yet you seem to have to fight everyone to get the help you need. This drains you even more so round and round it goes!

      Keep putting one foot in front of the other is what I tell my husband. Hopefully our voices will be heard during the Summit.

      Kind regards

      Paula

  4. Jenny Harris says:

    Well said Paula. Its about time Kinship care was recognised in the same way as Fostering or adoption . There is much disparity between local authorities and its extremley unfair to the kinship carers and the children they care for.

  5. Janice Handley says:

    Brilliant blog, very well written and wow !! Paula’s Report simply says it all and then some !! Thankyou Paula for helping us kinship carers voice be heard.

  6. EVE says:

    BRILLIANT.

  7. Jeanette Stuart says:

    Thank god for people like Paula. I know I am eternally grateful for the work she does on behalf of kinship carers.

  8. Vicki says:

    Brilliant Paula x

  9. Deborah Burns says:

    Very well said Paula xx

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