Nusrat Ghani, MP for Wealden, was pleased to meet with Hailsham kinship carers at a local peer support group to discuss the challenges they face and the support available locally and nationwide.
A kinship carer is a family member or a close family friend who steps in to care for a child when the birth parents are unable to do so. Every year, thousands of relatives and friends step in as kinship carers to raise children who cannot live at home and would otherwise be referred to the care system. Grandparents are the most common kinship carers, but older siblings, aunts, uncles, and people who know the child well can also take on the role.
It is estimated that there are more than 180,000 children across the UK raised in kinship care, with nearly 230 in Wealden.
However, unlike adopters, many kinship carers do not receive financial support or benefits such as paid employment leave to help the child settle in. To learn what more can be done to support kinship carers in Wealden, Nusrat met with a Hailsham support group spearheaded by Wendy, who is currently raising her grandchildren.
The support group is held on the first Friday of each month at the Children’s Centre in Vega Close, Hailsham, BN27 2PL. For more information about the group, please contact Wendy Turner by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
Nusrat Ghani said: “Becoming a kinship carer is a lifechanging situation and can be a very isolating experience, especially as many children in kinship care will have experienced trauma and are in need a lot of support. However, families are stronger when kept together and most children benefit from living with someone they already know and trust. I am immensely grateful for all that Wendy and other kinship carers in Wealden do to enable children to continue living safely within their family and I was pleased to learn what more can be done to support our kinship carers in Wealden. I understand that the Department for Education is currently considering the recommendations to introduce a statutory definition of kinship care, provide kinship carers with paid time off work when a child starts living with them, and provide financial allowances at the same rate as foster carers. Peer support groups provide a lifeline for kinship carers, offering a safe space to talk freely about their challenges with people that understand them. Please know that there is support available, if you need it and do reach out.”
Wendy said: “It was so appreciated that Nusrat took time from her busy schedule to come to our meeting. She listened intently to the impact on kinship families from lack of financial and other practical support. The inequalities between kinship care and foster care is striking, and Nusrat took on board that we are the forgotten army, the kinship carers who battle every day to be heard and recognised. It's great that Nusrat met with us and heard our stories."