“The whole training thing has been brilliant,” said Pauline. “I haven’t done anything like this before.”
Pauline is 59 and has been a kinship carer for three and a half years to her five-year-old grandson. She is one of the first 11 volunteers to be trained as part of the Relative Experience project in the North East, funded by the Big Lottery Fund Silver Dreams Fund.
“The training was done in such a way you didn’t know you were learning, the trainers made it really fun. I learned things that I thought I knew, such as the difference between open and closed questions and the difference between sympathy and empathy. And there is a big difference. You think you know it all but you don’t.”
Not only has Pauline learned new skills but she has formed friendships with the other kinship carers along the way and felt that the group really gelled. Through the weeks of training Pauline’s confidence grew. “At the start I only spoke up when I definitely knew the answer but by the end of the training I was adding my voice and opinions to all topics and wasn’t worried whether what I said was right or wrong.”
Like the other volunteers, Pauline wants to stop new kinship carers going through the difficulties she experienced and wants to try to ensure that others have a smoother ride by signposting them to other groups and services.
All those who have been on the training are raring to go and Pauline is no exception. “Once we get started and befriending, the project will feel really worthwhile. New kinship carers think it’s going to be a bed of roses but it really isn’t,” said Pauline. But they are not to worry as she is ready to steer them through the ‘minefield’ of kinship care by signposting and telling them about other services available.
Posted by Alana Genge