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‘Relative Experience’ Project Launch. Thursday 14 th February 2013. Welcome from the Chair Lyn Boyd CEO, Mental Health North East. Introduction of the Relative Experience Project Sam Smethers CEO, Grandparents Plus. What do children in kinship care need?.

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relative experience project launch

‘Relative Experience’ Project Launch

Thursday 14th February 2013


Welcome from the Chair

Lyn Boyd

CEO, Mental Health North East


Introduction of the

Relative Experience Project

Sam Smethers

CEO, Grandparents Plus

kinship carers and children in the north east of england

Kinship Carers and children in the North East of England

Influencing Local Authority policies and improving service responses to their identified needs

outline of presentation
Outline of presentation
  • Who we are
  • Where we started
  • More than grandparents Sunderland
  • Action research project
  • What we have found out
  • Where we are going and how you can join us
who we are
Who we are
  • Sue Robson –Peer researcher and founder member More than Grandparents with Kate Conqueror
  • Lindsay Henderson – Carers’ Drug and Alcohol Network Coordinator First Contact Clinical
where we started
Where we started
  • Born out of peer support/ mentoring relationship between two grandparents
  • Parallel experiences 14 years apart – questioning what had changed?
  • No-one else should have our experience
  • Embarked upon a pilot action research – led by and for kinship carers

The vicious circle – difficulties faced by kinship carers in Sunderland



Loss of self, isolation, fear, uncertainty and feelings of powerlessness



Lack of support


Lack of knowledge

what we achieved
What we achieved
  • Partnership with Children’s Services to help develop Friend and Family Care Policy and action plan to improve services
  • Information leaflet for new kinship carers in Sunderland
  • Funding from by DAAT, Greggs Charitable Trust and Christ’s Hospital in Sherburn
more than grandparents sunderland
More than Grandparents (Sunderland)

Independent support and campaigning network with a focus upon grandparents who are caring for children as a result of parental drug and alcohol misuse.

emotional support during meetings support from other kinship carers
Emotional support during meetings & support from other kinship carers

Meeting up with this group was a god send to me. I know I can pick up the phone and speak to someone

I am not alone any more, the support, the advice, the friendship have been a great source of help and encouragement for me

information sharing and awareness raising
Information sharing and awareness raising
  • The exchange of information and views was very thought provoking…a feeling of friendship radiated the room.
  • A great event and really showed the power of bringing kinship carers and professionals together to build better understanding
future priorities
Future priorities
  • Advice on what to tell children about their situation
  • Help with children’s emotional and behavioural problems
  • Managing contact with parents
  • Looking after ourselves
  • Understanding tough love

Peer Based Research project

  • Funded by the Big Lottery and supported by:
  • VONNE’s Policy and Representation Partnership
  • SOTW Carers’ Drug and Alcohol Network (CDAN)
  • Influencing Local Authority policies and improving service responses to Kinship carers’ identified needs.
about the research
About the research

1 year project till end June 2013

Focus upon grandparents who are in kinship arrangements due to parental substance misuse or addiction

Train carers from CDAN to carry out research using First Contact Clinical’s Peer Based Researcher training programme

South of Tyne and Wear (SoTW) case study

research questions
Research questions

What is the extent of the kinship care?

What types of supports and services are needed?

Does the LA policy and practice support grandparents and children?

What support services and good practice examples exist and where are the gaps?

what we want to happen
What we want to happen

LAs recognise Kinship Carer needs and reflect research findings in policy (SoTW)

Stronger partnership working developed

Research process recognised as good practice

Contribution to national lobbying

Support networks created in SoTW

CDAN carers gain research skills and confidence

local and national policy
Local and national policy

Despite a statutory requirement 38% (5) of local authorities in NE did not have a Family and Friends carers policy in place

In NE the only robust consultation is within Sunderland (pilot action research) – this has national recognition

Changing national policy landscape e.g. 26 week limit and Legal Aid limitations

gaps in support
Gaps in support

Kinship Carers in Northumberland, Tyneside and parts of Teesside

Dearth of specialist support in South Tyneside and Gateshead

No recognition in own right by Carers’ Centres locally or nationally

No consistency of financial support

barriers and difficulties
Barriers and difficulties
  • Difficult to make contact with kin-carers other than through existing networks
  • 5 PBRs trained but impact of own caring roles affected availability
  • No regional forum for collective approach to influence policy and practice
Quote from a research participant

“If all of us grandparents put all of the grandchildren on the doorsteps of social services, just for one day, they would not know what to do; they would be inundated with children. I don’t think they really know how many children are being looked after. There is not the emotional support there and there is not the financial support – there is definitely not.”

what can you do
What can you do?
  • Put us in touch with SoTW kinship carers
  • Spread the word about the research
  • Share good practice
  • Come to events about the research findings
  • Do research to influence policy where you are
  • Partnerships to influence regionally & nationally
  • Galvanise, work with us and campaign!!!
to find out more
To find out more

More than Grandparents

Kate Conqueror - email: - telephone 0191 5493768

Peer Based Research Project

Sue Robson, email:, telephone 0781310921

Lindsay Henderson - Tel: 0191 4274711, email


Supporting kinship carers:

policies and practices of North Tyneside Council


Safeguarding Operations Manager,

North Tyneside Council

kinship arrangements within north tyneside

Kinship Arrangements withinNorth Tyneside

Cath McEvoy

Safeguarding Operations Manager

north tyneside context
North Tyneside Context
  • Child Population 40,000
  • Looked After Children: 260-290
  • Child Protection: 140-160
  • Child in Need: 500
north tyneside ethos
North Tyneside Ethos

Children & young people should, whenever possible be placed with family members or connected persons

  • Children feel part of a family unit
  • Children maintain a sense of identity
  • Children feel loved and cared for
  • Children able to maintain contact with family and friends
  • Placement stability
private arrangements
Private Arrangements
  • Informal agreements
  • No legal arrangements
  • Unknown situations
  • Private fostering
formal arrangements
Formal Arrangements
  • Residence Orders: 57 cases: 74 children
  • Special Guardianship Order: 44 children
  • Connected Person Foster Carers: 31 cases: 46 children
  • Policy
  • Assessment
  • Identification of support
  • Training
examples of support
Examples of Support
  • Therapeutic input for grandparents
  • Building renovations
  • Nursery provision / child care
  • FGC
  • Transport costs
  • Advice / Guidance
future developments
Future Developments
  • Review of policy
  • Life Story work
  • Feedback survey

Thank you!

Please fill in the feedback form.