Alison's story

Helping Scotland's vulnerable children and young people thrive safely within their families is at the heart of what we do.

And every year we support hundreds of kinship care families through our National Kinship Care service and local services around Scotland.

This is Alison's story - how she came to be a kinship carer, raising her grand-daughter, Isla. 

"Our grand-daughter Isla came to live with us because of her mum’s substance misuse issues. When Isla arrived she had only the clothes she was wearing which were dirty and her underwear was soiled.

"Although we got no financial help we had to buy new clothes for her, including a warm winter coat and school uniform. She also needed proper winter shoes and clothes for everyday use, as well as toys and bedding.

"After a few months, we realised Isla’s care needs were such that I gave up work – this despite working throughout raising my own children. My husband also took a step down at his work so he could have more time and energy to invest in supporting Isla. This has all had a major financial impact on our family.

"In a short space of time, the impact of a secure environment on Isla has been huge. She now eats healthily and has a warm, clean house to live in. She also now owns toys which she feels confident enough to give names to (something she never did before because she knew they would disappear). Isla also attends school regularly and has moved from being in the bottom section of the class to the middle. 

"I’ve phoned the helpline at ParentLine Scotland a few times and it has been great – somewhere safe where I can offload a bit and get some emotional support to carry on. I've also been to a few Children 1st kinship care forums in my area and they too have helped.

"Going to the Children 1st conference showed me how many kinship carers there are out there and allowed me to find the support I needed. It was also nice just to be able to speak to people who know what we were going through.

"We've certainly benefited from the practical support we received and have also accessed some training on child development. However, we would really like more, especially around things like coping strategies to help deal with Isla’s increasingly aggressive behaviour and to help support her schoolwork."

There are at least 20,000 kinship care families like Alison's in Scotland. Our National Kinship Care Service is there to provide help, support and advice whenever they need it. We also listen to and work with kinship carers to influence policy at national and local government level.

 

*The people in this article were happy to share their story. The only thing they asked is that we change their names.