Like many in my position, when my niece came to live with us I knew nothing about kinship care, I didn’t even know the term existed. I looked for support and came across Grandparents Plus on Facebook.
I remember thinking at the time, “Grandparent? I’m not a grandparent” but Grandparents Plus is for all kinship carers. I became more involved, meeting and supporting other kinship carers, and then one day I saw that they were looking for a trustee to join the board. Upon reading the e-mail my first thought was that this could be my opportunity to be a bigger part of a charity that has helped me through a difficult time and help shape the future for other kinship carers. That thought was cemented for me at my trustee interview when I met Lucy (CEO) and Jayne (Chair of the board), and I saw how they really want to bring kinship care to the fore.
As trustees we meet on a regular basis to discuss what the charity has been doing to get kinship care talked about, what we are doing across the country, what funding we have applied for to expand what we can offer, and we help govern Grandparents Plus. The relationship between senior management and the board is fantastic and we can see that this cause means so much to everyone within the organisation.
The best part is being involved in decisions that will hopefully one day give kinship carers recognition for what we do, be that emotional support or financial support. On a personal note it is also seeing that the other trustees who are from all different backgrounds and careers all give time and care so much about an issue they aren’t living but are passionate about.
The main challenge is making society understand what kinship care is and what it entails. A big challenge we have is making sure we can link with as many kinship carers as possible so that they can find us when they need us.
When I joined as a trustee I was asked to also chair the advisory group. We are a group of kinship carers from all over the country who meet to talk about and feedback on issues that kinship carers are experiencing, issues about kinship care in the news and things that the charity are doing. It means that we know that as a charity we are doing the right things for the right people.
The advisory group are determined to help Grandparents Plus fight for change and campaigning is something that a lot of the members have already done and feel is the way to bring about change. Many of the group have been in the press telling their story, they’ve had meetings with their local MP’s and been to universities to help shape the education of future social workers. Their breath of knowledge is amazing, I have learnt so much from them all.
I can honestly say that I whole heartily believe that as a team we can achieve everything we set out to do. I’m excited to see how we go through this journey, but I’m mainly pleased to know the difference that changes for kinship carers will make to so many families. I feel exceptionally lucky to be part of what I can only describe as a phenomenal team.
To anyone thinking about becoming a trustee, then if you believe that you can give time to help a charity then this role really is for you. But also be ready to question decisions – by doing so you’re ensuring that the best decisions are being made and the charity is moving forward and doesn’t become stagnant.