Audrey is a Family Grants volunteer. She helps families by submitting applications for essential items for the home such as decorating materials for bedrooms, beds or new fridge/freezers.
I found out about Grandparents Plus when my husband volunteered me to run a half marathon. He’d been working with the charity for a year and we both wanted to do more to help.
On the first day, I was a nervous wreck. I hadn’t worked in an office for sixteen years and I was terrified I was going to blow up the computer – last time I worked there were huge computer rooms with noisy fans that you could cause to overheat!
I volunteer with the grants team, and I was terrified of my first cold call. You get some very confidential information and often harrowing stories of how children have come to be with kinship carers, and it is hard for them to detail to a stranger how difficult their lives are. I have put the phone down more than once and cried.
This work has made me realise how many families live in extreme poverty in this country. I am always so touched to hear from kinship carers. Many of them are grandparents who are parenting for the second time, being older and often with their own health issues. I feel sad they are helping their grandchildren when their own children are often struggling with drug or alcohol addiction that they just can’t help anymore
Personally, I’m one of the lucky ones who loves coming in to work every Monday. I work one day a week for four hours to fit in around my school pick-ups. So far, I’ve helped over 20 families and have had a 100% success rate in getting grants for them.
We work with two great charities that go out of their way to help fund our requests for help. Children in Need fund emergency essentials (cookers, washing machines) and Buttle UK help out with grants for clothing, laptops, after school clubs, dance/football classes, counselling, school trips, uniforms, etc. I love it when I hear from them and I can contact the kinship carer to pass on the good news. They’re always so happy – some even teary – and say how much this will make their lives a little easier.
I’m raising money for Grandparents Plus by hosting a coffee morning with friends, and running the Royal Parks half marathon in October. Now I just need to get training…