Yesterday Kinship Carers from across Scotland visited the Scottish Parliament to raise awareness of their campaign for a fairer deal. The event was hosted by Johann Lamont MSP and organised by The Scottish Kinship Alliance, the Poverty Truth Commission and the Family Addiction Support Service. The event included a play named 'Chap at the Door' which tells the true story of the hardships faced by Kinship Carers in Scotland.
According to official figures, Kinship Carers are currently looking after at least 10,742 of Scotland's most disadvantaged children. A 2011 survey by Buttle UK, however, estimated that there are more than 60,000 children in kinship care. Kinship Carers are family members, often grandparents, who have become the primary carers because of parental drug or alcohol abuse, neglect or bereavement. Using the official figures of 10,742 kinship children, Kinship Carers are currently saving the government £176 million per year by keeping children out of foster and residential care and with their families where they are happiest.Despite this huge saving for the public purse, kinship carers continue to face significant disparities across different local authorities and with other similar carers, such as foster carers. A Kinship Carer in Glasgow describes his situation: ‘I became a kinship carer 11 years ago when my wife and I brought our granddaughter home from hospital to care for her in only the clothes she was wrapped in. We had both retired and had no money to fall back on and nobody to help us.’ The Children and Young People Bill currently passing through Holyrood proposes to address some of the shortcomings in the current support provided but without effective resources real change is unlikely.
Martin Johnstone, secretary for the Poverty Truth Commission’s secretary commented, ‘Some progress has been made over the last five years but it is not enough – and it is not nearly quickly enough. We need to move from warm words to real action in order to ensure that this group of children, and their carers, get the support they need and deserve. Kinship Carers need to be listened to and what they have to say needs to be acted upon.’‘With the proposed benefit cuts and the independence referendum hitting the headlines daily, the issue of what sort of society Scotland wants is now more important than ever. Thursday’s event will highlight, once again, the wonderful work Scotland’s Kinship Carers do as well as highlighting the on-going need for change.’
Thursday’s event was an opportunity to recognise and celebrate the vital role of Kinship Carers and thanks are given to the MSP's that attended.