Relative Experience Project

Grandparents Plus is working in partnership with two leading family charities, Family Lives and the Family and Childcare Trust, to support kinship carers in North East England through the Relative Experience Project.

Funded by the Big Lottery Fund Silver Dreams Fund, the Relative Experience Project supports kinship carers aged over 50 and covers all 12 local authority areas across the North East from Berwick to Redcar.

The Relative Experience Project can support kinship carers with the following:

Volunteer befriending service

We have a team of trained and dedicated volunteer befrienders, often kinship carers themselves, who can provide a listening ear. Our volunteers offer someone to offload to, who will listen in a non-judgemental way to help kinship carers find the confidence to cope with the problems they face. On a practical level they also offer basic information, including the Kinship Care Guide for England, and referrals to the Grandparents Plus advice service and other local and national sources of help.

“My befriender saved my life. I have now trained as a befriender to support other kinship carers” – grandmother supported by Relative Experience.

Kinship Care Support Group

We work with kinship carers who want to organise local support groups so that members can share information and concerns, campaign for change or simply spend time together. Our groups are spread across the North East, and Grandparents Plus also maintains a list of groups in other regions.

“The support group gives me the chance to have some ‘me’ time” – grandmother supported by Relative Experience.

Campaigning for Change

We want to support kinship carers to speak out, helping to raise awareness and challenge policy and practice both locally and nationally. For example, in September 2015 we will be organising focus groups for kinship carers to meet with Department for Education representatives as part of the government’s call for evidence about special guardianship orders.


User comments

The South Shields Beach Funday in August 2015 – one of the many family events the Relative Experience Project has organised.

Relative Experience has now spread across the whole of North East England with Project Workers and Volunteer Development Workers based in North Tyneside, who cover Tyne and wear and Northumberland, plus outreach workers in both Teesside and Durham.

The majority of kinship carers supported by the Project are aged 50 and over, as it is funded for three years by the Big Lottery Fund Silver Dreams Fund. However, enquiries from younger kinship carers are welcome and we will help wherever possible.

If you live in the North East and would be interested in getting involved in the Project please contact the Project Manager, Cath Halse on 0191 257 2504 or email

You can read more about the project at our dedicated blog here.


Silver Dreams & Partners Logo update april 2014