Are you caring for a loved one’s children and need support?

24 November 2011

Relatives involved in caring for a loved one’s children because of problems at home are being encouraged to be part of a new support and advocacy group being developed by Swanswell.

Swanswell - a national charity which wants to achieve a society free from problem alcohol and drug misuse - wants to set up a new group in Coventry and Warwickshire, bringing together grandparents or other relatives in a kinship caring role.

A survey by Grandparents Plus in 2010 suggested there were at least 200,000 grandparent carers in the UK (Saunders, H,. and Selwyn, J,. 2008)1, of which 46% were caring for children because of substance misuse problems affecting their parents (Wellard, S. and Wheatley, B. 2010)2.

Their caring is often done with little support or financial help, so Swanswell wants to find out from them what they want and, with their help, raise the profile of their important caring role both locally and nationally, so they get the recognition they deserve.

Problematic alcohol or illicit drug use is one of the most common causes of kinship caring and it’s thought that an estimated 1.3 million children have parents who are affected by substance misuse (Cabinet Office, 2004 and Department of Health 2007).

With that in mind, Swanswell’s asking grandparents, aunties, uncles, older siblings and other family members to get in touch with the charity to register their interest in getting involved with the group, which will be led by the carers themselves.

Chris Robinson, Swanswell’s Director of Services, said: ‘The actual number of people in a kinship care role in the UK isn’t known because not all cases are brought to the attention of social services.

But grandparents and other relatives involved take on a massive responsibility, not knowing where to turn for support or feeling too ashamed to ask for help.

However, there’s nothing to be ashamed of and it’s ok to ask for help with what can be an incredibly difficult situation.

So Swanswell’s looking to identify how many people in Coventry and Warwickshire are kinship carers and to form a regular support and advocacy group that they will lead on the development of, so it becomes a useful tool to anyone in the same situation as them.

‘Therefore, we’d encourage as much input as possible from the people who need our help, which will of course be treated confidentially.’


  1. Family Rights Group cited in Saunders H. and Selwyn J. (2008) Evaluation of an informal kinship care team, Adoption and Fostering, Summer Vol 32:2, pp31-42.]
  2. Wellard, S. and Wheatley, B. (2010) What if we said no? Survey Findings Report, Family and Friends Care, Grandparents Plus.







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