Monday, 21 May 2012

Kinship Carers in Glasgow develop reference group with Social Work

FOLLOWING regular engagement with Kinship Carers from across Glasgow and with the Poverty Truth Commission, David Crawford – Director of Social Services for Glasgow – has set up a quarterly reference group on Kinship Care to be run by Kinship Carers themselves.

In the group carers will set the agenda, raising specific issues they see as a priority and giving feedback on Social Work services and initiatives. The Poverty TruthCommission has been guided by the slogan of the South African Truth and Reconciliation Committee – Nothing About Us, Without Us, is For Us – and we assert that poverty will never be eradicated until the real experts, people in poverty, are put at the heart of the process. We applaud this commitment and look forward to hearing more about it as it develops.

Glasgow's Social Work department also committed to funding the city's four Kinship support groups – crucial spaces organised by carers where they can share their struggles, arrange respite trips and campaign for the support their kids desperately need. At the same time Glasgow City Council has also raised its payment to Kinship Carers to £50/week, a £10 increase. Though this still leaves Glasgow as one of the lowest paying councils in Scotland we welcome the raise which will have a real impact for vulnerable children in Kinship Care.

Thursday, 17 May 2012

The Big Issue - What's your revolution?

IN LAST weeks edition of the Big Issue Commissioner Sadie Prior shared her thoughts on the issue of Kinship care as part of their 'What's your revolution?' feature. She wrote:

"Kinship Carers are often grandparents, aunts and uncles looking after children when the parents can't provide care themselves. I look after my seven-year-old in north Glasgow because of her mother's problems with addiction.

We feel like we're taken for granted because we're family. We're certainly not getting the same kind of support as a foster parent. The weekly payment from Glasgow City Council has gone up from £40 to £50 a week. But what really angers us is that it's a postcode lottery across the country - it varies depending on the council. In the Highlands kinship carers get the same rate as foster carers (between £72 and £144 a week).

Here in north Glasgow we've got some of the worst drug problems in the country. Many of these children need psychological help becasue they have problems stemming from their mothers' drug abuse. Some get six weeks' treatment but it's not enough. Another problem is the delay getting child benefit transfered from the mother, which can take 18 months.

We've been out protesting to make the politicians aware of these things. We love our grandkids, but we're not getting the help we need. We're saying: recognise these children. We want to protect them from the same problems as the generation that was lost to drugs."

For resources on kinship care go to and

Tuesday, 15 May 2012

Education and Culture Committee investigates disparities in support for Kinship Care

IN FEBRUARY this year Tommy McFall, a vociferous Kinship Care campaigner from East Glasgow, and a carer himself, gave evidence to the Education and Culture Committee on the unjust disparity of support between children in Foster Care and those in Kinship Care. The committee took the issue seriously and followed up his presentation by launching an informal investigation into the postcode lottery for Kinship support between Local Authorities and between Foster and Kinship Carers within them. They wrote to each Local Authority, the Minister for Children and Young People, COSLA and the Department for Work and Pensions and asked them to respond to a number of questions. 

The resulting responses make up the most revealing evidence of the postcode lottery yet, with payments for Foster Carers coming out way above Kinship in almost every case, and financial and non financial support for Kinship Carers also varying massively. For example  Highland Council pays a £400 starter grant, £200 for summer holidays and £100 for christmas to each child in Kinship Care on top of a weekly grant, whereas North Ayrshire pays £400 per week to foster carers and only £55 to kinship carers. Glasgow still comes out at the bottom of the list paying foster carers an average of £175/week and kinship carers just £50.

On 20th March the committee considered the evidence they had received. The discussion they had was kept private but with such compelling evidence of unfair treatment of Scotland's most vulnerable children the committee should hopefully be moved to act. At the same time the petitions committee discussed the Clackmannanshire carers petition and decided to refer it to the Education and Culture Committee for further consideration.

See papers of 20th March 2012 at for the full responses from 24 councils.

Friday, 4 May 2012

Poverty Truth Commission mentioned in Baroness Stern's Seminar on Women Imprisonment

LAST month Baroness Stern was the guest speaker at the International Futures Forum's Ramsay Garden Seminar on Women's Imprisonment. Stern is a lifelong campaigner for prison reform, with a particular interest in women in prison. There is a full report of the the seminar on the International Futures Forum website.

During the discussion followed the speech it was mentioned that "the problem of powerlessness is also the absence of voice in the system" and that "there may be lessons to learn from the Poverty Truth Commission seeking to give the poor a voice in policy about poverty".

The Poverty Truth Commission is committed to work both with individuals that want to have their voices heard and also with organisations that would are interested in involving people with an experience of poverty in their decision making.

Thursday, 3 May 2012

Civil Servants mentored by people in poverty!

MONDAY 16th April saw the first meeting of six civil servants from the Scottish Government Public Health division with their mentors - people with direct and daily experience of poverty - who will deepen their understanding of poverty over the next six months. The Scottish Government pledged to pilot this unique scheme as one of a number of pledges from organisations at the official end of the Commission's life last April.

All parties were excited to meet for the first time and expressed their hopes for the scheme. The pairs will now meet six times until the end of the pilot in November when the process will be evaluated and hopefully have some wider influence on the Scottish Government's approach to consultation and participation. At the next meeting the mentors will take their partners on a tour of the community where they live, exploring what is good and what is hard about living there.

The Poverty Truth Commission's hope for the scheme is that those involved see the value of building relationships with people they would not normally meet – breaking down stereotypes and barriers of 'status' and gaining a holistic picture of life in poverty. We believe this does not happen in agenda-driven consultation meetings, but requires a longer term relationship. We are also confident in the experience of our Commissioners that this process leads to better policy making and more effective solutions to issues of poverty.

Wednesday, 2 May 2012

Further demonstrations about Kinship Care in Glasgow

KINSHIP Carers also protested last week ahead of the Local Council elections at the official opening of the Maryhill Burgh Halls
Local News Glasgow reported on the demonstration saying 'VIPs arriving had to walk past an array of banners held by determined grannies demanding justice for Kinship Carers.'

The Lord Provost came and stood with them in their protest and had his photograph taken with them commenting I saw them earlier today at the City Chambers and support them.’

One of the Kinship Carer's, Liz Lynch, commented in the article '
If we fostered a stranger’s child we’d get £300 a week to look after them. Because the children are family, we get £50 a week and none of the important psychological help.’