Kinship Active - a three-year project led by us in partnership with Teesside University and Middlesbrough Football Club Foundation and funded by Sport England - marked its first three months with a celebration event for over 40 kinship families.

Teesside has one of the highest concentration of kinship care families in the country, with an estimated 2,200 children being raised by family members and friends in the region. Over half of kinship carers are grandparents and they often struggle to maintain active lifestyles. Our survey showed that a third of kinship carers were worried about their physical or mental health and that they might not be able to continue looking after the children. If this happened, there’s a risk that these children will end up in care. 

Kinship Active has been supporting kinship families in Middlesbrough and Redcar and Cleveland by bringing them together and running fun activities. The local community has jumped on board to support the project and there are now £1 swimming sessions, table tennis groups, walking groups and a budding partnership with Street League who are running activities such as frisbee golf. A recent trip to South Shields saw over 130 carers take part in beach activities.

The celebration event took place at Middlesbrough Football Club’s Riverside Stadium and recognised the achievements of the families taking part – including those who have carried out sponsored walks – with awards presented by club mascot Roary. 

Dr Lucy Peake, Chief Executive of Grandparents Plus, said: “I’m constantly amazed by the incredible commitment kinship carers have. Many carers in Teesside have told us that they struggle to maintain an active lifestyle, which is why we’re so pleased and grateful to Sport England and our partners at Teesside University and Middlesbrough Football Club Foundation for making this project possible. It’s been brilliant to see how much fun families have been having, and also to see the support they’ve been giving each other.”

John Fothergill, Operations Manager at Middlesbrough Football Club Foundation, said: “Grandparents Plus’s Kinship Active project is a terrific initiative which diligently supports kinship care families, and thanks to funding by Sport England, it will give both children and guardians a wonderful opportunity to enjoy physical activity together. Many kinship families on Teesside will reap the rewards of this programme, and together with Teesside University, we are confident this ground-breaking project will be hugely beneficial to the community.”

Dr Liane Azevedo, Senior Lecturer in Physical Activity and Public Health at Teesside University, said: “It has been a great pleasure to work with Grandparents Plus in this project. It is clear that families are enjoying their time together on the range of activities being delivered to them. The project is on it is the initial stage, but we are looking forward to seeing the effect of their health, wellbeing and relationship. This will hopefully be a project that can be sustainable and scaled up to other regions in our country.”