Mathew's Story

I was very fortunate as a child to have a very stable and loving upbringing – from the age of 10. Prior to that, things were difficult, including a stint in foster care. From age 10 onwards, I was part of a loving, stable family (cancel the violins playing!). However, I wasn’t aware until recently, that I was brought up in Kinship Care – the term used when non-parental relatives such as Aunts/Uncles or Grandparents raise their niece/nephew or grandchild. To me, it’s just my family.

To me, it’s just my family

On reflection, my family made a great number of sacrifices for me. My 16 year old Cousin moved her bedroom into the dining room so I had a place to call my own, my Aunt and Uncle took on an increased mortgage to move to a 3 bedroom house (along with all the other financial burdens an extra child brings). Plus – I came with a whole load of baggage when I first moved in (I’ll spare you the trauma). Now – I would describe myself as a relatively ordinary person who contributes to society while holding down a job and caring for my family. I doubt I would be any of those things had my ‘Kinship’ family not stepped in.

Kinship Care doesn’t always result from bad parenting. Many times there is a parental death or severe health issues (or both). And even if it is down to poor parenting – so what? Every child deserves the best opportunities, despite the circumstances they are born into. Kinship Care is on the rise in Britain, and unless you have lived through it, you may not appreciate the nuances and difficulties that come along with it.

Today, in Teesside, there are many families who aren’t as resilient as mine were in order to handle the situation. They struggle with a lack of income, inadequate housing, and a lack of access to other resources such as legal advice (very important).

Find out more:

Kinship Carers Middlesbrough are a group run by local Kinship Carers. If you know a family in the area that could benefit from help and advice, or if you have something you can offer/donate to kinship carers – they can be contacted through Facebook  

The Relative Experience Programme provides support to grandparents and other relatives who are bringing up a relatives child. All kinship carers are able to access support and information from trained volunteers who will help with the challenges of raising a child. If you would like to get in touch with the team call: 0191 2572504 or email [email protected] 

Feel free to share this post and raise awareness of Kinship Care. It comes from a real person, talking about real people, who need real changes in order to give their children the best they can. Put them in touch with Kinship Carers – they really care.

Many thanks to the ongoing work of Charlie Saunders, Elizabeth Stanton, Mari Dilworth.

Special Thanks to Elizabeth Walker-hebborn and Sonya Louise Dowd for caring for me.