Guest blog: Jane Harmer, Grandparents Plus "Thank you kinship carers, you are amazing and we salute you!"

Jane Hamer- Kinship Active

04 October 2020

Hello, I am Jane, a project worker for Grandparents Plus Kinship Active programme in Middlesbrough.

Grandparents Plus, the kinship care charity, exists for all kinship care families, regardless of the child/children’s legal order. When a family member or friend takes on the care of a child, it can be both complicated and daunting. Grandparents Plus works to ensure that kinship carers and the children they care for get the support and recognition they need, when they need it and in a way, they need it.

Kinship Active is a three year, Sport England funded programme.  Working in partnership with Middlesbrough Football Club Foundation and Teesside University to support kinship families to increase their activity levels by taking part in a range of low-cost activities, spending time together as a family and with other families, having fun and getting fit together.

From my previous experience working in the drug and alcohol field, I saw first-hand how the patience and strength of kinship carers brought much-needed stability and love to their families in times of family strain. I have a great admiration for kinship carers and am delighted to be working for Grandparents Plus, an organisation whose purpose and heart is to support kinship families to stay together.

I joined Grandparents Plus at the beginning of May while we were all embedded in lockdown. It has been a strange experience to start a new role where all face to face activities have come to a full STOP. This is especially so as the emphasis of Kinship Active is to support families to enjoy being together whilst getting FIT.

We quickly and innovatively adapted our services to ensure that kinship carers remained connected.  We provided digital upskilling, moved our support groups virtually and developed a bespoke online activity programme for families to encourage the continuation of intergenerational activity through the most challenging of circumstances.

As Covid increased the strain on kinship families in so many ways.  Grandparents Plus responded by developing the local authority funded programme - Kinship Response, available across Teesside.  Supporting kinship families in crisis during Covid and providing priority access to Grandparents Plus Advice, grants, and peer support services.

Going forward, adaptability is the key as government guidelines change. Above all, we are positive for the future and confident about getting back to our activities with families.

Meanwhile there is Zoom!

National Kinship Care Week starts on 5 October 2020, celebrating and championing the amazing, unseen roles of kinship carers in children’s lives. Whilst we are unable to celebrate in person, we will all be there, nationally, regionally and locally in Teesside saying:

Thank you kinship carers, you are amazing and we salute you!

Kinship Active provides a supportive environment to help kinship families as a community get more active together. Families have access to project workers, free or low-cost local activities, and an activity passport to help them keep on track. Watch this short video that shows you what it is all about:

You can refer a kinship carer to the Kinship Active programme by contacting or Jane Harmer 07943 865601 or Sue Wadwell 07943 865586.