Kinship care is when a child lives full-time or most of the time with a relative or friend who isn't their parent, usually because their parents aren't able to care for them. That relative or friend is called a 'kinship carer', and it's estimated that around half of kinship carers are grandparents, but many other relatives including older siblings, aunts, uncles, as well as family friends and neighbours can also be kinship carers.
Most children are in kinship care because their parents aren't able to care for them. Many children are in kinship care as a result of parental drug or alcohol misuse, although other reasons include bereavement, imprisonment, parental abuse or neglect and parental ill health. Almost half of children in kinship care have some kind of special needs, most commonly emotional and behavioural difficulties.
The support available to kinship carers from local authorities and statutory services varies enormously across the country.
Curiosity Creative were commissioned to work with a number of kinship carers across the North East through the Relative Experience project being delivered by Grandparents Plus. We worked with four groups across the North East including Tyne and Wear and Teesside. We worked with each group over a seven week programme, meeting each group once a week. During these sessions, participants were supported to tell and create their own personal stories about what life is like being a kinship carer using tablet technology.
Many participants spoke about the benefits they gained through taking part in the workshop programme. Many of the participants expressed how taking part in the workshops helped them realise that they are not alone. There are others out there experiencing similar issues.
“Taking part in the workshops has helped me realise that I am not alone. Others are out there experiencing the same situation as me.”Participant