Paula’s story #KinshipCareWeek

This week is #KinshipCareWeek, a time to say thanks to all those grandparents who aren’t just grandparents; they’re also guardians to their grandchildren. After the tough job of raising their own children, at a time in their life that should be about taking things easy, they step back up to the big challenge of bringing young children up once more.

This generational gap can be difficult enough to adjust to, but for those grandparents supported by our Family Impact service, the children they are looking after are also dealing with complex parental issues. Our Family Impact: Prisoners’ Families service supports families with a family member in prison or who has recently left prison, and our Family Impact: Drug and Alcohol service supports families affected by having a loved who is misusing substances.

After Paula’s house was raided and the police arrested her daughter, Paula’s life as she knew it was completely changed forever. When her daughter was sentenced and the reality dawned that she would be in prison for a number of years, Paula felt that she had to step forward to become her granddaughter’s carer. Explaining what had happened to her granddaughter, feeling judged by professionals and contending with the increased speed of life and all the practical things that came with this became a daily struggle, and really took their toll.

When Paula found PSS, she found that she wasn’t alone; there were other people just like her who could offer her support. She’s now been attending our grandparents’ group every month for a number of years, gaining more and more confidence at every session by talking to other people who are living through the same experiences. She’s also supported by our team of specialist family workers who are able to offer her expert support and advice to help her appreciate the difficult job that she does.

Paula wouldn’t have had the courage to open up about this experience a few years ago. She felt too proud to reveal her experiences and was filled with shame about some of the things her family had been through. Now, supported by others in the same shoes and our team, she feels that she can be completely truthful to herself about all her emotions. Bottling this strain up was not a great way of supporting her grandchildren and she can now be stronger for them.

Find out more about our Family Impact : Prisoners’ Families service

Find out about our Family Impact: Drugs and Alcohol service, which also supports kinship carers caring for children whose parents are unable to because of their drug or alcohol dependence.