Press releases

For all press enquiries please email or contact Lucy Peake on 07496 389 416 or 020 8981 8001.

2nd November 2015 – Grandparents Plus responds to Prime Minister’s statement to speed up adoption process 

We welcome the Government’s announcement to remove unnecessary delays from the adoption system.  No-one wants to see children in temporary placements when they could be living with a family who are committed to them for the whole of their lives.

However the focus on adoption is missing the bigger picture – 5,330 children were adopted from care last year, but there are 153,000 children in England living with grandparents and other relatives. For most children who cannot live with their parents,  kinship care is the best option – especially when children already have a bond with their carer. Children in kinship care have faced similar experiences to those in foster care and those who are adopted – and they have the same needs as those adopted or placed in long term foster care. Yet children in kinship care are often overlooked and ignored, and in 95% of cases have no legal entitlement to support. All too often family members are left struggling to bring up children traumatised by abuse, neglect or bereavement without adequate help.

If the Government is serious about improving outcomes for children, it needs to give greater recognition to kinship care, and to ensure that all children receive the support they need, irrespective of the type of family they are growing up in.


1st November 2015 – Grandparents Plus has merged with The Grandparents’ Association

Grandparents Plus and The Grandparents’ Association merged on 31 October 2015 and will be known as Grandparents Plus (incorporating The Grandparents’ Association).

The charity will continue with all the vital work that both charities have done to champion and support grandparents and other family members who are looking after children in often challenging circumstances.

Helen Jackson and Trevor Bush, co-chairs of Grandparents Plus said:

‘The merger of Grandparents Plus and The Grandparents’ Association puts our beneficiaries first. We will be the most powerful voice for grandparents and other kinship carers, offering one point of contact, one source of expertise, research, advice and support. We’ll build on our impressive foundations to do even more and continue to ensure that children remain the heart of everything we do. We will extend our reach and our influence, and deliver more support and services for grandparents and the wider family. And we will be a more vibrant and sustainable charity.’

Over the next six months, we will be consulting widely as we develop our plans for the future.
We’d love to hear from you. Please email or call 020 8981 8001 so we can keep in touch.

  • Download press release here.


5 October 2015 – Charity welcomes the Government’s announcement to extend shared parental leave and pay to working grandparents

Grandparents Plus has today welcomed the Government’s plans to extend shared parental leave and pay to working grandparents.

Grandparents Plus chief executive Dr Lucy Peake said: “The Government’s announcement to extend shared parental leave and pay to working grandparents is great news for families.

“Working parents up and down the country rely on the 7 million grandparents who are providing care for their children, and we welcome the Government’s recognition of grandparents’ vital caring role as well as the introduction of greater choice for families about balancing child care and work.

“We look forward to working with the Government on the detail of the new policy and want to make sure it works for new parents and grandparents.

“While we welcome the proposals to support families in the first year of a child’s birth, we know that 1 in 4 working families depend on grandparents for child care while their children grow up, and 2 million say they would give up work if grandparents were unable to care for their children. At the same time, people are working longer. We need to take action to enable grandparents to combine work and care. Giving working grandparents the right to flexible working and entitlement to leave to care for their grandchildren as they grow up would make a huge difference to families and to the economy.”

A survey conducted by Grandparents Plus earlier this year revealed that 2 million working parents say they would give up work if grandparents were unable to care for their children (Survation poll for Grandparents Plus, March 2015).


 7 September 2015 – Grandparents Plus appoint new CEO

Lucy Peake 80x105Campaigning charity Grandparents Plus has appointed a new chief executive to champion the role of 200,000 grandparents and kinship carers left bringing up relatives’ children.

Former development director at The Fostering Network Lucy Peake will take up  the position later this month.

Lucy, who spent 12 years at The Fostering Network, said: “I am delighted to be joining Grandparents Plus at such an exciting time. I’m looking forward to working with grandparents and other kinship carers as well as everyone with an interest in supporting them, to make sure that we continue to speak out on the issues that matter, influence policy and practice, and offer vital advice and support.

“Grandparents Plus has an amazing reputation, and it’s one that we will be building on because we are determined to support more carers, their families and children.”

Helen Jackson and Stephen Burke, co-chairs of Grandparents Plus, said: “We are delighted that Lucy Peake will be joining Grandparents Plus as chief executive. Lucy brings a wide range of experience and skills from policy-making to fundraising as well as charity management and development in our sector.

“Grandparents Plus has grown considerably in recent years and it’s an exciting time for Lucy to join us. We are sure she will lead Grandparents Plus to further success as we extend our reach, influence and services to help give all children a good start in life with the care and support of their grandparents and the wider family.”

  • Download press release here.


16 July 2015 – Grandparents Plus and The Grandparents’ Association plan to create a new joint organisation

Over the last few month the boards of The Grandparents’ Association and Grandparents Plus have been exploring the potential to combine the resources of the two charities to create a new organisation to focus on the needs of grandparents and the wider family.

Both charities have explored the benefits of a merger which include:

The power of one

One vision, one voice, one point of contact, one source of expertise, research, advice and support – the sum will be greater than the parts.

A better deal for beneficiaries

A louder voice, more influence, greater reach, bigger membership and peer network. An increased offer with more support and services for the 14 million grandparents and the wider family. Campaigning with and celebrating and supporting 14 million grandparents and wider family members will help get a better deal for those who are kinship carers or who have contact issues.

The best use of limited resources

No competition for funding and easier for funders, stakeholders and other partners – and grandparents, parents and the wider public to understand and support.

At board meetings of both organisations held this week agreement was reached on the merits of creating a new organisation. The charities are now planning to undertake full due diligence with the aim of merging in October 2015.


23 June 2015 – Thousands of traumatised children failed by state in time of greatest need, charity claims

People suddenly left caring for traumatised young relatives because a parent has died or can no longer act as a carer are in for a shock when they try to access state support, a survey reveals today.

The Survation poll shows how the British public expects financial support, counselling and time off work to handle the family crisis – when in reality there is no individual entitlement to support of any kind in almost all cases.

It highlights how:

  • 80% agree that they should be entitled to be assessed for financial support from their local authority with 34% believing this is currently available.
  • 83% agree that they should have access to services such as counselling for them or for the child. 36% believe this is currently available.
  • Almost three quarters (73%) agree that they should be entitled to a period of time off work without having to give up their job. 22% believe this is available.
  • Almost 9 in 10 (88%) agree they should be considered first as a carer for the child instead of them being placed in foster care or adopted with 39% believing this is the current process.

The findings reveals the gulf between expectation and the reality of what is actually available to the 200,000 grandparents and other family carers who find themselves in this situation raising up to 300,000 traumatised children across the UK.

Sam Smethers, Chief Executive of Grandparents Plus said:

“Its appalling that so many traumatised children and their carers are left unsupported. Our poll shows that people expect these services to be available in a crisis or tragedy, but the harsh truth is they aren’t.”

Julia O’Hara, grandmother who has a Special Guardianship Order for her grandchildren said:

“It has been a constant battle for support since my husband and I took on the care of our grandchildren eight years ago. I had to give up work and we fought for two years to gain some financial support. One of my grandchildren is on the autistic spectrum and so has extra needs – but when we ask for support we are basically told to just get on with it. I know that if we were looking after children who were not family we would get all the support we so desperately need. It’s just not fair.”

  • Read the full press release here
  • The full Survation polling tables can be read here


20 April 2015 – Grandparents Plus Chief Executive announces departure
Sam Smethers, who has been Chief Executive of campaigning charity Grandparents Plus since 2008 has today announced that she will be leaving the charity at the end of July to take up the post of Chief Executive of the Fawcett Society.

Under Sam’s leadership Grandparents Plus has grown considerably and become a significant and influential voice in the family and children’s sectors, publishing authoritative evidence and calling for recognition for the vital role that grandparents play in children’s lives. It has also established and developed valued services for grandparents and family (kinship) carers who are raising children in the absence of parents with a peer support network reaching 6,200 and an advice and information service now advising well over 1,000 kinship carers each year. Smethers was herself brought up by her grandparents.

Sam Smethers said

“I am truly sad to be leaving Grandparents Plus and all the people in it. We have a team of amazing staff, dedicated, supportive trustees and wonderful volunteers and Network members. I have devoted the past six and a half years to building the charity and establishing it as a credible, distinctive voice in the sector. I am pleased that the charity is in a stronger position now than it has ever been. But this has only been possible because it has been a real team effort.”

Read the full press release here


15 April 2015 – Grandparents Plus welcomes pledge by Labour to consult on allowing parents to transfer unpaid parental leave to grandparents.

Sam Smethers, Chief Executive of Grandparents Plus said

“Grandparents are the hidden army of carers in Britain today. We know that 1 in 5 working parents – 2 million of them – would give up work without grandparents to rely on.  But increasingly grandparents are working too. So this policy is also a win for employers as it helps both parents and grandparents stay in work.”

Grandparents Plus regularly commissions and publishes research. It was a recent Grandparents Plus Survation poll that found that one in five working parents would give up their jobs if they didn’t have grandparents to rely on. The poll also found that a further 20 per cent would reduce their hours. Another Grandparents Plus poll in partnership with Family and Childcare Trust and Save the Children, found that 14 per cent (1.9 million) of grandparents had either given up a job, reduced their hours or taken days off sick to provide childcare.

You can read Labour’s manifesto for women here.


16 March 2015 – 2 million parents would give up work without grandparents’ help poll reveals

Grandparents Plus calls for unpaid leave for grandparents to prevent parents dropping out of the labour market.

Campaigning charity Grandparents Plus has today published a poll showing just how dependent on grandparents working mums and dads really are.  The Survation poll finds that 1 in 5 working parents (19%) would give up work if they no longer had grandparents to rely on for childcare.  With 10.8million working parents in the UK that would mean more than 2 million having to give up their jobs. The figure rises to 22% of working mums who say they would give up work and a further 20% who would reduce their hours.  15% of dads say they would give up work and a further 11% would cut back on hours.

The poll also finds:

  • 6 in 10 (59%) parents agree, 1 in 4 (24%) strongly agree that it should be possible for parents to share periods of unpaid parental leave with a grandparent who may be helping with childcare
  • 44% of parents who responded said they would be most likely to turn to their mum if there was a problem in their family. Overall 1 in 3 (33%) of all respondents would be most likely to turn to their mum and 10% would turn to their dad.
  • 21% of parents say they would pay for childcare if they didn’t have a grandparent to rely on.

Sam Smethers said:

“1 in 3 working parents rely on grandparents for childcare but what are the political parties offering grandparents? It is often younger grandmothers who provide the intensive childcare support and they are at risk of dropping out of the labour market. But we are also seeing Granddads doing more too.  If we want grandparents to work longer and care more for children we need to give them the flexibility to do it.

“Many parents don’t take all of the unpaid leave they are entitled to.  But if they could share it with a grandparent this would help hard pressed working grandparents to juggle work and care and our poll shows parents back our call.

“As an increasing number of grandparents stay in work until their mid sixties and older we will see more working parents at risk of losing the childcare they rely so heavily on.  This will see mothers dropping out of the labour market and our economy cannot afford that.”

Download the press release and polling tables in full below.


10 February 2015 – Grandparents Plus responds to Labour’s policy announcement on kinship care

Shadow Secretary of State for Education, Tristram Hunt MP has today committed Labour to:

  • giving vulnerable children in kinship care priority school admissions – extending this to children on Special Guardianship Orders
  • strengthening statutory guidance on vulnerable children so that family and friends are properly consulted and the courts and local authorities understand when and how to use Family Group Conferences
  • issuing new guidance to local authorities on supporting kinship carers through support groups.
  • abolishing the ‘Bedroom Tax’ which is having an adverse impact on kinship carers.

Responding to the announcement Sam Smethers Chief Executive of Grandparents Plus said:

“There are some important changes here which would make a real difference to kinship carers and the children they care for and we very much welcome them.

“But if we want to prevent children ending up in care and support them properly the new government will need to require local authorities to consider the wider family first, ensure support is based on the needs of the child not their legal status and give kinship carers similar rights and entitlements to those who adopt.”


29 December 2014 – “A towering figure has gone” – Jean Stogdon OBE has died

Grandparents Plus is today mourning the loss of Co-Chair, Co-Founder and social pioneer Jean Stogdon OBE who has died.  Jean passed away on Christmas Day after a period of ill health.

Jean co-founded Grandparents Plus in 2001 with social entrepreneur Michael Young with whom she shared a belief that the role of the wider family was not sufficiently recognised, valued or supported.  Together with Michael, Jean set about changing that. But tragically Michael died in 2002 so Jean had to carry Grandparents Plus forward without him.

In 2001 after Grandparents Plus was founded Michael Young wrote: “Grandparents Plus – my last and possibly my best.”

Stephen Burke, Co-Chair of Grandparents Plus said:

“Without Jean Stogdon there would have been no Grandparents Plus. The charity has put grandparents on the policy and practice agenda and is driving forward change to secure significant recognition and support for kinship carers. None of this would have happened without Jean’s leadership, energy and single-mindedness.”

Sam Smethers, Chief Executive of Grandparents Plus said:

“We are all deeply saddened to lose Jean. She was a towering figure in the family sector and the social work profession and achieved national and international profile for her work.

“But above all she was a social worker at heart, a people person with huge warmth and care for everyone she met. Certainly challenging at times, but always supportive.”

You can download the press release in full below and read the Guardian obituary written by Yvonne Roberts here