A support group for “Kinship Carers” is being set up in Orkney.
Those who are caring full time for a close relative or friend’s child as the parents are no longer able to for whatever reason, are being invited to come along to the first drop in session at the Strynd Meeting Room, Kirkwall, at 10:00 on Friday, February 21.
Karen Laughton, Orkney Health and Care Family Support Worker, explained that questionnaires were sent out to around 20 Kinship Carers in Orkney seeking interest for a support group.
“It is hoped that the while there can be official input at the outset – with advice and support available from social work staff and the family placement team – that the group members, themselves, will take the group forward on an informal basis.
“We have had a number of responses back which will help shape how we move the initial support group plans forward. But there may be Kinship Carers in Orkney who moved here, for example, that we are not aware of so we want to reach out to all who may benefit from such a group.”
She added: “We hope it will provide people who have taken on what can be challenging roles in often difficult circumstances, with an avenue to provide support for each other. But, as officials, we can also provide assistance and support if needed.”
Although open to change, it is hoped that the group get togethers may be held at various locations around the isles once a month.
“Some of the Kinship Carers have been doing this for a long time and have the experience that comes hand in hand with that; it’s just about sharing and offering support to each other. We could also look at arranging for people from different agencies to come along and talk to them if there are any specific issues they may want to chat over,” Ms Laughton said.
One experienced Kinship Carer in Orkney has taken over responsibility for her two young grandchildren whose sole parent is unable to look after them.
The carer, who has a nursery nursing background and has also been a foster carer, is passionate about the need for a support group in the isles.
“My whole life changed with a phone call; and that is often the case for many Kinship Carers. You are thrown into a new world and often with children who are traumatized for whatever reason – there can be relationship breakdowns, parents unfit through substance abuse, physical or sexual abuse, maybe a tragedy such as a car accident.
“For whatever reason you are left with responsibility for a child or children. I cannot emphasise how important a group such as this will be where we can get together and share our experiences. You know you are not alone – there are others out there in the same boat.
“I have a lot of family support and a strong network around me but others may not and may feel very alone – that is where we, as a support group, can help each other.”
She has praised the Orkney Social Services team for driving this forward.
“The social workers have done a fantastic job in getting this off the ground – and they have been working tirelessly to make it happen. I would urge any Kingship Carers to come along and take your children if you want.
"Many people do not even know that Kinship Care even exists so we need to push the message out there and make as many people aware as possible. I want this group to be a success so please come along and give it a go. No one really understands what it is like until you are put in that position – the support group will ensure that we can give each other the support that we need.”
The first Kinship Carers Support Group meeting is due to take place at the Strynd Meeting Room, Kirkwall, at 10:00 on Friday, February 21. For more information contact Karen Laughton, Family Support Worker, on 01856 873535 ext 2654, by email
General information about Kinship Carers is available online at kinship.scot