Up to 600 vulnerable Teesside children and their carers will benefit from a near £100,000 donation to charity Grandparents Plus.
The donation of £99,838 easily represents the biggest ever single donation by charitable movement Middlesbrough and Teesside Philanthropic Foundation.
Grandparents Plus supports grandparents and other family members who are caring for children in difficult family circumstances.
Nearly 2,300 Teesside children are raised by family members – known as kinship carers – when their parents are unable to look after them.
Children in kinship care have often experienced trauma, neglect and abuse whilst witnessing parental drug and alcohol misuse, imprisonment or death.
The Philanthropic Foundation’s £100,000 donation will fund a three-year Grandparents Plus project to develop new approaches to support kinship carers in Teesside.
Along with funding a part-time project worker, the donation will enable the launch of a support group offering activities during school holidays in Hartlepool and there’ll be practical master classes in parenting and managing family relationships, plus welfare benefits advice workshops to support kinship carers.
Kinship carers will be trained as ‘Champions’ to reach more people via outreach with schools and other organisations, while Grandparents Plus will be able to offer grants to kinship families in crisis.
Karen Doherty, of Billingham, cares full-time for four of her 15 grandchildren – Taylor three, Lucy, six, Corey, 10, and Leah, 20 – as a result of the emotional neglect suffered by the children following her daughter’s drugs and alcohol misuse.
Karen, 57, who is supported by husband Tommy, said: “Caring for four grandchildren full-time at my age isn’t easy, of course, but the kids are my priority and I’ll always put them first.
“Over the years I’ve had to give up two full-time jobs to look after the children, which is hard when you’ve already taken on a big mortgage, but there are many others in similarly difficult situations across Teesside.
“Grandparents Plus is a lifeline. They are there if you need them and it’s reassuring to know there’s always somebody with knowledge who is on your side. It’s great news that they’ve been given this money to do more good.”
Lucy Peake, chief executive of Grandparents Plus, said: “We’re absolutely delighted to have received this donation.
“Becoming a kinship carer is something that could happen to anyone – often suddenly – and too many carers don’t know who they can turn to for help.
“This donation will help us reach more people across Teesside, giving them and the children they’re caring for the support they need.”
Andy Preston, founder-chairman of the Philanthropic foundation, said: “Donating £100,000 is a momentous occasion for our charity.
“This is by far our biggest ever donation but we know its impact will be felt right across Teesside among some of the most vulnerable families.
“Grandparents Plus is a wonderful charity and we are delighted to be working with them on this project.
“This is the first of several big funding projects we are going to announce in the weeks and months ahead.
“2017 is going to be the best year yet for our charity and we are really grateful for all the support we receive.”