"Hi, I'm Angela, I provide care for my grandchildren after their parents, my adult children could no longer provide the care they needed. I just thought of myself as their grandparent and never saw myself as a carer even though at times it was a struggle.
Raising my grandchildren can be very different to bringing up my own children as times have changed. I don’t get to be the grandparent who they see for visits and treats, I am the parent who has to set ground rules and don't always have the time or energy to be that typical grandparent as the care I provide is 24/7.
Like many other local carers, there wasn't really a choice of whether I wanted to become a Kinship Carer, my grandchildren needed me and I would do anything I could to keep them safe and in the family where they will be loved.
Becoming a Kinship Carer has impacted me, I had young children to bring up when most my age were starting to have more free time as older children became more independent. I haven't had the luxury of spare time for hobbies for myself and eventually had to move from my home to a larger place in a different area. This meant I didn’t have many friends and didn’t know any other kinship carers but I just got on with it because that is what you do when you care for those you love.
Eventually, I joined a local peer-led group that supports kinship carers in Redcar through Kinship (formally Grandparents Plus) which is a national charity that provides care for all kinship carers. I also joined Kinship Active which is a local Kinship project funded through Sport England which supports kinship families to be healthy and active in Middlesbrough and Redcar and Cleveland. By engaging with both groups I was provided with peer support, access to essential items, invaluable advice and access to no-cost or low-cost activities and family days out.
I received an award from Kinship Active for the most motivated carer and received a 3-month gym membership from Everyone Active which helped me to appreciate the importance of keeping fit and healthy. If I have lots going on or am having a bad day I will go for a long walk as I always feel better when out in the fresh air whatever the weather.
(Angela pictured below having received her award and goodies)
I have also received support from Carers Together, The Link and Redcar and Cleveland Special Guardianship Order team. We Care You Care has lots of information that helps carers like myself find out where to go for help when you need it.
If I hadn’t stepped in to care for my grandchildren, they would have ended up care. When the children were young, I enjoyed taking them out and about but it is harder to entertain and connect with them now they are teenagers. One child has gone back to mum which is great but it was difficult for me at the time as naturally, this feesl like a huge loss. Although at times it has been a struggle, I would never look back and have loved bringing up my grandchildren.
I have coped pretty well throughout the pandemic as the support I received through the peer support group and Kinship Active prior to the lockdowns have helped me to build my confidence and enjoy keeping active. So I’ve been able to continue to get out on regular walks around the local area which has helped me take care of my health and well-being. I have enjoyed exploring different areas. Although I have missed the days out, reduced cost swimming sessions and free activities provided by Middlesbrough Football Club Foundation through Kinship Active which all stopped due to Covid. Kinship Active was able to continue to support us kinship carers through an online closed Facebook group, so I still get access to free activities like Zumba classes and Kinchat which is a virtual support group. I struggled with social media and technology generally but the Kinship Active team patiently talked me through the right steps and helped me to become more confident in my ability to connect online.
I look forward to being able to get back out to the activities and to meet other carers. With the funds we have raised for the Redcar peer support group we hope to have some family days out and we look forward to having some new members join us as restrictions ease and more carers get involved to access peer support.
If I could give other local carers some advice it would be; don’t be frightened to ask for help because you’re not alone. The best thing I did was to go along to the Redcar carers peer support group to meet other people in a similar situation to mine who provided information, advice and a listening ear when I need it most, I am now lucky to be able to call all carers in the group my friends. I would also urge and local Kinship Carers to connect with Kinship Active, Jane and Sue are the local contacts and can support you with so much, Kinchat is a great way to connect with others, sessions are currently hosted online if you struggle with technology don't be put off as Jane and Sue can help you to get set up. I have gained so much confidence, increased my fitness and now have a role as moderator on the Facebook and WhatsApp group as well as being secretary of the Redcar Kinship group.
I always saw myself as a grandparent and didn't recognise I was also a carer but I am so thankful that I did come to that realisation as it has opened the door to support for me and my family which has enabled me to have so much more confidence and has provided me with the comfort of knowing there is always support available if and when I need it. So no matter what type of care you might provide reach out to meet others in your situation and know you are not on your own."
Angela, 58 from Redcar.
If you are raising a friend or family members child, you can also connect with Kinship who can provide information, advice, support, signposting to peer support and other services. Kinship's adviceline: 0300 123 7015, e-mail email@example.com
You can also directly contact the Kinship Active team: Telephone Sue- 07943 865586 or Jane- 07943 865601 or by comple a referral form.
Kinship Active is hosting a coffee morning at Stepping Stones on 15 June, 10-12, to celebrate local Kinship Carers. This is the perfect opportunity to reach out for support in a relaxed environment. Book your place in advance: