ADOPTION: Lifeline community groups celebrated this Kinship Care Week

Adoption UK News

Artwork by Jane Heaney

13 Mar 2023 00:01

Peer support groups offer help, advice and emotional support to kinship carers …

Cllrs Michelle McGinty and Clare Steel, left, at Kinship Carers in West Dunbartonshire.

By Lucy Ashton

Community groups supporting Scotland’s kinship carers are being celebrated during this year’s Kinship Care Week.

With a theme of Connecting Kinship Carers, the week aims to raise awareness of the peer groups that offer help, advice and emotional support to those who look after the child of a relative or friend.

In West Dunbartonshire Kinship Carers celebrated the opening of their new community support centre with a £5000 house warming gift from the Council.

On the day that marks the beginning of Kinship Care Week, the group’s new facility in Erskine House, Clydebank, opened its doors to families for the first time.

Kinship Care – where children are raised by family members or friends because they are unable to live with their parents for a variety of reasons – was allocated extra support at the recent meeting of West Dunbartonshire Council.

One-off funding of £5000 was granted from the Council’s Cost Of Living Capital Fund to support the group’s activities and set-up costs involved with the new centre. They were also encouraged to submit a bid for additional funding for equipment for their new premises.

The Chair and Vice Chair of the Council’s Cost of Living Working Group Councillor Michelle McGinty and Councillor Clare Steel joined the families for a tour of the new facility and praised WD Kinship Carers for the vital work they do to offer support and advice.

Councillor McGinty said: “It’s a pleasure to join the families on the opening day of this fantastic new facility. It was fantastic to see and hear the excitement from the group about what it will mean for them.

“This space will be a friendly, welcoming place for kinship carers to drop in for a chat as well as free tea, coffee, food and heat. But most importantly it offers the chance to meet people who are in similar situations and find support.

“I know that supporting the mental health of kinship carers and the children in their care is a priority for the group, so their intention to use the new premises for events like yoga, meditation and training will have a positive impact on their well-being. There are also plans in place to offer children support through homework clubs as the difficulties they had previously faced will have had a detrimental effect on their learning journey.

“I know that there are over 92 families who are being supported by West Dunbartonshire Kinship Carers and I have encouraged the group to apply to the cost of living capital support fund to see if there is anything else the Council can do to support them with some of their ambitions for this facility to further help the families they support.

“I wish everyone involved with West Dunbartonshire Kinship Carers many years of happiness and friendship within these walls – and there is no better time to begin this new journey than during Kinship Care Week.”

Councillor Clare Steel, Vice Chair of the Council’s cost of living working group added: “The positive difference that carers make to the lives of looked after children and young people is priceless, but it’s important that we show they are valued by us.

“The Cost of Living Fund is there to give a helping hand to people in need and the community groups who seek to help them – and this fantastic new space will most definitely make a positive difference to the lives of kinship carers in our area.”

Micheleine Kane, Chair of WD Kinship Carers, said: “We are thrilled with our new centre and it was a special moment to see everyone so happy when the doors were opened for the first time.

“We are a community group providing direct peer support but we can’t do all this alone so we are grateful to the Council for this additional funding, which will allow us to settle in faster and plan more activities.”

To get involved with the group contact or phone 07490 720123 for more information.

Organisers the Kinship Advice Service for Scotland have spent the past year visiting groups up and down the country to hear first-hand how valuable their support can be. In many cases, the kinship carers we spoke to described their local group as a “lifeline”, enabling them to connect and share experiences with other carers. One carer told us: “In the support groups, members truly understand what you are going through, and can share the type of practical insights that can only come from first-hand experience.”

There are at least 65 such groups across Scotland, but KCASS say some regions still do not have one, meaning kinship carers in those areas are missing out on invaluable peer support. The charity is now calling on local authorities to offer support to agencies and carers in those areas who wish to set up their own groups.

Susan Hunter, KCASS project coordinator, said: “Kinship carers tell us that meeting and talking with other carers who understand what they are going through is a lifeline they benefit from continually. These peer support groups help kinship carers by reducing loneliness and isolation, receiving mutual sharing of knowledge and experiences of kinship care, while establishing friendships, having a laugh and sometimes tears in a safe space.

“This year, our communities officer has been fortunate to visit groups throughout Scotland, meeting and listening to kinship carers who tell us how necessary these groups are. They also say that in areas with no groups operating, there should be support for local agencies or for kinship carers to establish a much-needed support group.

“This Kinship Care Week, KCASS are encouraging kinship care groups to take part in their own local community and celebrate their kinship families where children are loved, safe and happy. They can do this by running small or large events, having some fun and encouraging other kinship carers to come along and reap the many benefits of being part of these marvelous groups.”

Children and Young People Minister Clare Haughey, right, said: “Kinship Care Week provides us with an opportunity to recognise and celebrate the important role our kinship carers play in providing loving, secure, stable and nurturing homes for children and young people.

“The support local care groups provide to our kinship families is not only a safe space for carers, it also creates a safe environment for children and young people to connect with their peers who may have similar experiences.

“I would like to commend the kinship carers who form part of the KCASS advisory group, who also work hard to influence the work of KCASS to ensure the service it delivers is tailored to those with lived experiences.”

Kinship Care Week runs from March 13-17. A full programme of events can be found here:

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