A group of grandparents who look after their grandchildren have formed a self help group with support from Middleton-based charity Health For All.
Stepping in to take care of young children can have a profound effect on your life. Having raised your own children and seen them grow up, to be suddenly back dealing with nappies and the school run is quite a shock to the system.
“Don’t get me wrong” one grandparent explained, “I don’t begrudge looking after the children for one second, but it has turned my life upside down.”
Another lady describes herself as a 52 year old single mum with children aged 4 and 6 years old. “I’ve had to give up work and I don’t have a social life anymore” she explains. “The kids are on Child Protection Orders so any babysitter would have to be DBS checked.”
There are a host of issues associated with caring for grandchildren. The children themselves have all the issues of no longer living with Mum and Dad. Often the loss of trust and security of the upheaval can lead to behavioural issues. Bullying in the playground – “You haven’t got a Mum” – can add to these problems.
The Grandparents Group is an opportunity to get together and talk to other people in the same situation. The group has been meeting weekly since it was set up in March 2016. A crèche is provided for pre school children and the group have organised trips in the school holidays.
“It’s important for the children to get together too” says Paula who started the group. “Like us, they can feel they are the only ones in their situation. It’s so important to break the isolation for all of us.”
These Grandparents are, of course, supported individually by Social Workers, but the group has discovered that they’ve each had different experiences with the system. They can now share information about help and support that they have found.
“There are some things you feel you can’t tell your Social Worker in case they think you are not coping and take the children away from you” explains one member.
The group is a safe place where members can share their problems, anxieties and their triumphs. They clearly value this as they continue their second round of parenting.
To get in touch with the Grandparents Group please contact Health For All on (0113) 270 6903.