Between 200,000 and 300,000 children across the UK live with their grandparents or other family members because their parents are unable to care for them. Whatever the reason – bereavement, drug or alcohol abuse, domestic violence, imprisonment or other traumatic experiences – they are the ones who pick up the pieces in children’s lives. And sadly they rarely get the support they need.
That’s where the Relative Experience Project comes in. Grandparents and other relatives – known as kinship carers – will be able to access support from trained volunteers who will help with the challenges of raising their relative’s children.
These volunteers, who may be kinship carers or grandparents themselves, will support kinship carers and their families by offering a one-to-one befriending service to help with the challenges they face – whether it’s dealing with sleepless nights, the ‘terrible twos’ or the tricky teenage years.
The Project is a partnership between Grandparents Plus, Family Lives and the Family and Childcare Trust and has been made possible thanks to the continued support of the Big Lottery Fund Silver Dreams Fund. Grandparents Plus has co-ordinated a support network for kinship carers for several years; Family Lives bring the expertise of dealing with children’s behaviour; and the Family and Childcare Trust will make sure the outcomes of the project are monitored – which will hopefully lead to the project spreading to other parts of the UK.
Aimed at grandparents, kinship carers and volunteers who are aged 50 and over, the project began as an 18-month pilot project supporting kinship families in Newcastle and North Tyneside. It has now received scale up funding from the Big Lottery Fund Silver Dreams Fund for three years and will extend across the North East region.