From little acorns …

Things have been so busy at the project that the blog has been sadly neglected! However, we have exciting news to share with everyone – we have been chosen for scale-up funding by the Big Lottery Fund Silver Dreams Fund! We are absolutely delighted that our project will be funded for a further three years – huge thanks to the Lottery for their support, which will mean that the project will expand across the North East region building on the Newcastle-based pilot project.

The pilot project came to an end with two events. In February we gathered once again at the Assembly Rooms in Newcastle to celebrate what the project had achieved – it didn’t seem possible that a whole year had passed since we held our launch event there! The event gave kinship carer Alice the chance to speak about the support her befriender had given her. “My befriender is a big help and I have no fear of saying the wrong thing or not being listened too,” said Alice. “There are a lot of people out there that suffer alone. I am proof of this, kinship carers do what we do for the love of our children and their children’s children and we need this support.” Volunteer Jackie also spoke about the befriender’s perspective and how getting involved with the project made her feel more confident.

The event included discussions on how best to support kinship carers before ending with lunch, which gave everyone the chance to chat and speak to the project team about our hopes for the future – at the time we didn’t know that we had been chosen for the scale-up funding so we were still keeping our fingers crossed.

Edward Timpson MP responds to Alice and Sheila's comments

Edward Timpson MP responds to Alice and Sheila’s comments

The second event took place on 26 March with kinship carers, volunteers and the project team coming down to London to the House of Commons. The event was hosted by Fiona Mactaggart MP and Edward Timpson MP, Minister for Children and Families, attended to hear directly from a kinship carer and volunteer from the project. Danny Silverstone from the Big Lottery Fund also spoke at the event and said some very kind words about the difference the project is making and why the Big Lottery Fund Silver Dreams Fund will continue to support us for a further three years.

Three briefing papers have been written for the project, which were given to everyone at the London event. They focus on:

Relative Experience Briefing 1 – Issues and challenges for kinship carers
Relative Experience Briefing 2 – What is peer-to-peer support
Relative Experience Briefing 3 – Stories from the project

The findings of the Coram Evaluation Summary were also circulated and key outcomes were that the project had a positive effect on kinship carers’ mental well-being and self-confidence and volunteers found the experience challenging but highly rewarding.

So with these findings in mind we are about to start planning for three exciting years ahead – watch this space to find out how things develop as we watch our ‘little acorns’ grow.

Posted by Alison Blaxland

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