A NEW support group has been set up to help grandparents who have taken on the care of their grandchildren.
The Grandparents Together group meets every Friday from 10am-noon at Chatham House Children’s Centre, in Chatham Road, Hartlepool.
It aims to help provide support for grandparents who, through unforeseen circumstances, have taken on parental guardianship of youngsters.
Youngsters may be classed as vulnerable, and drugs, alcohol, crime, or parents just not being able to cope may be reasons children have to leave their parents.
The group was set up by Janet, 50, and Richie Rudd, 51, from the West View area, and Frank, 60, and Barbara Gallen, 59, from the town’s Golden Meadows – couples who found their lives turned upside down when they took on the role of bringing up their grandkids.
As well as providing a shoulder to cry on, it also signposts members to services and advice relating to benefits, housing,mental health support and other issues.
Janet, a part-time TMD Friction worker, said: “I took on four of my grandchildren four years ago and there wasn’t much support around, we had to go without money.
“There are more and more grandparents taking on the children, it’s an everyday thing, you only have to stand in the school yard to find that out.”
There are currently 10 members of the group, which is working in partnership with Hartlepool Borough Coucil’s protection team and Headland Futures.
Mum-of-four Janet, who has four other grandchildren, added: “We are a shoulder to cry on, someone to talk to. It might be too late for us four years down the line, but more and more grandparents will need help.”
Rossmere Youth Centre worker Frank said: “It was really hard when we took on our four grandkids, we didn’t know where to turn, but with this group, you realise you’re not on your own. It’s a bit of a sound board, a chance to get things off your chest.”
This week’s meeting will involve a visit from a representative from the council’s benefits department. Anyone wanting to find out more about the group can call Janet on 07505 464955.