We have received a £500,000 grant from The National Lottery Community Fund to develop a digital hub that will be a unique gateway to information, advice and support for kinship carers and those who support them.

The digital hub will enable kinship carers – family and friends who take on the care of children when their birth parents can no longer look after them – to quickly access up-to-date, tailored and localised information to help kinship carers make informed decisions, connect with each other and find support at any stage of their journey.

Our survey of over 1,100 kinship carers found that 84% did not get the advice and information they needed when they first became kinship carers, and 72% still don’t get it now. As a consequence, many don’t get the support they and their children need.

The digital hub is a solution to this problem. Over three years, the hub will be co-designed with kinship care experts, including front-line advice workers, project workers and social workers, and most importantly, kinship carers themselves.

The digital hub concept was developed with kinship carers, practitioners, academics and sector representatives at a Reimagining Kinship Care social design workshop, hosted by Grandparents Plus and Bristol University in November 2017. This funding means it can now become reality.

Lucy Peake, our Chief Executive said: “We’re absolutely delighted with this digital grant from The National Lottery Community Fund. We’ve known for years that kinship carers struggle to access the information and advice they need. The digital hub is a step change in approach, and we’re excited to be using the power of digital to reach more people and help them navigate their way to the support they need.

“We’ll be bringing together information in one place so that kinship carers, and everyone working with them, can easily find up-to-date advice, resources, policies and support, including the peer support that is so important to kinship carers. 

“Kinship carers will be at the heart of this project and we’ll be working with them to continually consult, test and develop content and digital tools so the hub’s design and content reflects and responds to their unique needs.”

The Grandparents Plus advice service for kinship carers in England and Wales already supports over 2,000 kinship families every year, and demand for advice is increasing. The advice service will continue to run alongside the digital hub. 

Joe Ferns, UK Portfolio Director at The National Lottery Community Fund said: “In a digital society it’s important that charities and community organisations are not only able to adapt to be fit for the future, but can harness the power of digital to identify new opportunities to improve services to support more people.

“Now, thanks to National Lottery players, these organisations can increase their digital capacity to have a greater impact in communities and support our sector to thrive in the digital age.”