Peer support services boost for kinship carers

Nina Jacobs
Sunday, November 21, 2021

Kinship carers will benefit from increased peer-to-peer support after a £1m cash boost to expand provision nationwide was announced by the government.

Many kinship carers often live in poverty and are older than other groups raising children, research shows. Picture: Adobe Stock
Many kinship carers often live in poverty and are older than other groups raising children, research shows. Picture: Adobe Stock

Charity Kinship said it had been awarded a contract from the Department for Education to develop and deliver a new peer support group service for kinship carers across England.

The organisation already delivers peer support through its model developed in the north of England but the funding will enable it to expand services to the rest of the country.

Offering peer support to kinship carers provides them with a space to share their experiences and challenges given the huge sacrifices often made to provide permanent homes for vulnerable children and young people, the charity said.

Such support was needed even more by these families in light of research that shows three quarters of children in kinship care grow up in deprived households.

Many kinship carers often live in poverty, are socially isolated, older and in poorer health than other groups raising children, it added.

The expanded scheme will see the creation of nine regional networks, a microsite, an online e-learning platform as well as an online peer support chat.

Peer support groups will be able to book free themed workshops on areas such as managing contact and trauma attachment, the charity said.

The service will also offer access to specialist advice and information both online and by telephone.

It will employ 18 new staff and create 100 volunteer support group leader roles to lead groups independently, the charity added.

Furthermore, the service, which will be co-produced with kinship carers, will build capacity for established kinship peer support groups.

Minister for children and families Will Quince announced the funding during a visit to a kinship peer support group in north London.

He said it had been a “privilege” to speak with kinship carers and understand how much impact peer-to-peer support had made to their lives.

Dr Lucy Peake, Kinship’s chief executive officer, said developing the support service nationwide would be “game-changing” for kinship carers.

“This commitment from the government represents a really positive step on what we hope will be a much longer journey to ensure that all kinship carers receive greater recognition and the support they need to enable them to provide the loving, stable and permanent upbringing that all children deserve,” she said.

Kinship carers that had benefited from peer support services said they felt less isolated and more confident, she added.

“We are excited at this opportunity to use our expertise to develop peer support for more kinship carers whose lives are often turned upside down when they take in the children they love.

“We look forward to working with local authorities and partners across the country to reach as many kinship carers as we can,” said Peake.

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