Kinship carers have been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic in so many ways. Over the last nine months we have had to adjust to a ‘new normal’; a world full of uncertainty, change, isolation and anxiety. Grandparents Plus have been doing all we can to support kinship care families across England and Wales in this unprecedented time.
Through our Kinship Response programme, dedicated to supporting kinship care families during the pandemic, we have helped families in 68 boroughs across England and Wales. Our dedicated team of project and advice workers have delivered much needed and life-changing support to families.
Over the next few weeks we wanted to share some personal stories from kinship carers. Today we want to share Jenny’s story with you.
Jenny 56, lives in London, having moved from her birth country three years ago. As well as having to adjust to life in a completely new country, when Jenny arrived, she was already fostering one of her grandchildren, who is now 12 years old. Just over a year ago she became a grandparent again and is now a full-time kinship carer to her two grandchildren. For anyone, this would be a huge amount to take on in just three years.
Although the birth parents, who also live in London, do still have contact with the children, unfortunately, contact with the mother is erratic due to her poor mental health. The children’s father also has a new family, so has other demands and responsibilities. Understandably, Jenny’s 12-year-old grandchild has found it hard to adjust to his Dad’s new family.
The complex family dynamics have been exacerbated by the fact that the family of three has been living in a one-bedroom flat, which has been incredibly difficult especially during lockdown.
Thankfully their living situation is due to change and soon the family will be moving into a two-bedroom flat, providing some much needed extra space. Although moving into a bigger home is something to look forward to, unfortunately it has brought extra worries for Jenny, who has been concerned about finding the money to furnish it. Something many of us take for granted.
How we helped
Through our Kinship Response service, our project worker has helped Jenny with applying for grants for a new mattress and bedding, and other essential items to make her new flat into a home. Although, this may seem like something basic, it has made a huge difference. Jenny told us:
“You and your team have been wonderful. I’m so thankful for the mattress.”
Jenny, who was granted a special guardianship order in 2018, has also been referred for help regarding how to access a special guardianship allowance, which will further help address her worries about money, and our project worker is also going to see if any winter fuel payments can be accessed.
We also took steps to address Jenny’s feelings of isolation, and referred her to a regional support group where she can meet people in the same situation, and get support from other grandparent kinship carers, so she knows she isn’t alone.
Jenny told us:
“It has been a great encouragement having someone to talk to and I’m positive as we move into the apartment and restrictions finally ease at school, many things will come right. Your time dedicated and the work you’re doing makes a difference, thank you.”
If you are a kinship carer and would like to access free support, please click here to sign up now.
If you would like to share your lockdown story please click here. We would love to hear from you and share your story with our community.