Kinship Carers take to the streets across Scotland demanding justice

On Thursday 26th April Kinship Carers in Glasgow and Edinburgh demonstrated at Council Chambers demanding justice and asking council candidates to sign four pledges to support the vulnerable children in their care.

See our press release below..

Kinship Carers demand justice outside Glasgow City Chambers, April 2012.

ACROSS SCOTLAND KINSHIP CARERS TAKE TO THE STREETS DEMANDING JUSTICE

Kinship Carers demonstrate to demand that local election candidates agree to their national manifesto.
36 Council candidates from all main parties meet with carers in Glasgow and Edinburgh.
Basic support for vulnerable Kinship children still not in place after years of campaigning.

Grandparents from across Scotland took to the streets today unperturbed by the rain, demanding that council election candidates from all parties sign a pledge to support vulnerable children living with non-parental family and friends.

They were met by 36 council candidates from all parties with another 15 sending apologies. In Glasgow 32 council candidates and councillors met with the 60 Kinship Carers gathered and publicly signed the pledge. They included CouncillorBilly McAllister (Deputy Leader SNP), Councillor David McDonald (Social Care spokesperson SNP), Deputy Lord Provost Allan Stewart, Councillor Gordon Matheson (Labour group leader) Councillor Kenneth Elder (Scottish Lib Dems), Councillor Martha Wardrop (Green party) and Graham Campbell (Solidarity).

The Carers shouted slogans such as ‘Justice for our kids!’ and ‘oh when the kids come marching in, we’ll be there in our numbers’ in the style of Oh When the Saints.

In Edinburgh grandparents from the Kinsfolk Carers support group met with representatives of all parties and were asked back to make a presentation to councillors in the chambers after the elections.

Kinship Carers across Scotland are asking candidates to promise tofour pledges from the manifesto they prepared (attached). They are:

To end the postcode lottery across Scotland for Kinship Care support and give all children in Kinship Care a fair and equal

A Kinship Carer sheds a tear while talking to councillors

chance.

To create a one-stop-shop approach to the necessary financial, health, psychological, educational and social work support required by children in Kinship Care. Getting any one of these can be a huge struggle for Kinship Carers.

To recognise the hard and brilliant job Kinship Carers do and support them with respite, legal advice etc.

To work with them when making policy for change, since they know what the priorities are and how to use funds most wisely to benefit the children.

In 2001 1 in 77 children in Scotland were living in a Kinship arrangement, mainly due to drugs and alcohol addiction, mental health and bereavement(1) These are some of Scotland’s most vulnerable children yet they only get a fraction of the financial, psychological and educational support offered to children who end up in other accomodated situations like Foster Care and residential homes.

Sadie Prior, a Kinship Carer from the North of Glasgow says:

“We have been campaigning for justice for years and have seen nothing but broken promises from government at Local, National and UK levels. We are not going away and as long as our children continue to suffer the lack of the most basic support we’ll be in parliament and in the streets demanding change. We are saving the government millions in care costs and it’s time they recognised us.”

In 2007 the Scottish Government promised to financially support children in Kinship Care at a rate equal to Foster Care children, recognising the poverty that afflicts most of their lives. They have subsequently reneged on this promise leaving a postcode lottery for Kinship support across Scotland with many getting nothing at all(2)(3).

Martin Johnstone from the Poverty Truth Commission, who have supported Kinship Carer’s campaign said:

“It is time for politicians to stop talking and start really delivering for children in Kinship Care. The party which deserves to be elected is the one that does the right thing rather than just accusing others of doing the wrong thing.”

Yvonne Ramsay from Edinburgh Kinsfolk Carers said:

“The numbers of children in Kinship Care are alarming for all. These children are Scotland`s future. Council`s need to be doing the very best for them, not avoiding the issue or just putting policies on paper and not into practice. Kinship carers are doing their very best for these children, its time Local Authorities gave these children and carers the support they undoubtedly deserve.”

Rev Ian Galloway, Convener of the Church and Society Council of the Church of Scotland agrees:

“Kinship Carers are the bedrock of our society and politicians need to acknowledge that without them the state could not provide appropriate care and it is time that they recognised this.”

Footnotes:

1. Shailen Nandy, julie Selwyn, Elaine Farmer and Paula Vaisey. 2011. Spotlight on Kinship Care. University of Bristol. Commissioned by Buttle UK.

2. The Education and Culture Committee are investigating the disparity in support across Scotland and between foster and kinship care and have published unique new evidence highlighting this. For example Glasgow pays £50/week to carers of ‘looked after children’ only, and pay foster carers between £131 and £226 per week. Highland Council pays Kinship carers at the same rate as foster carers -between £72 and £144/week, as well as a £400 starter grant, £200 for summer holiday and £100 for Christmas. See papers of 9th meeting of the Committee on tuesday 20th March at http://www.scottish.parliament.uk/parliamentarybusiness/CurrentCommittees/29802.aspx

3. Citizen’s Advice Scotland’s latest report Relative Value claimed that kinship carers are being let down by the system as ‘too often, the modest level of assistance that can make all the difference to a kinship care household is either missing or the route to accessing it is long and tortuous.’ Relative Value, Citizens Advice Scotland kinship care report. Oct 2010. http://www.cas.org.uk/Publications/recent-publications/publication1

Useful resources:

About Families, Citizens Advice Scotland and Child Poverty Action Group Kinship Factsheet at http://aboutfamilies.org.uk/topics/topicareasmini-topic-kinship-care/

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