Kinship "Foster" Carers
 A place for those who care
Kinship Foster Carers Group was formed around 2008 and has grown steadily since then.  The team currently consists of Vicki O'Leary, Sandy Chamberlain, Janellen Reddington, Paul & Patsy Riley, Ruth Kilcullen. Sandy and Vicki run the Facebook support groups whilst the rest of the team help with raising awareness ideas, maintaining the website and being a never ending source of information and support to our members; as well as to each other. To be updated - current as at March 2016.

Here's a bit of background information about the team (updated March 2014).


 

Laura has been married to Lance for 18 years; they have 3 daughters and are raising 2 of their grandchildren, secured on a Residence Order (private arrangement) and Special Guardianship Order (supported by her Local Authority). Whilst her own children were young, Laura spent several years caring for her disabled mother and then entered into a career in Estate Agency.  Unfortunately due to her daughter's experiences with drugs, alcohol and Domestic Violence it became necessary to take on her grandchildren, but Laura is very pleased that her daughter has been supportive in this and it has enabled her daughter to turn her life around.  Due to a heart attack just before the birth of her grandson, and subsequently having him placed with her, Laura now works part time whilst juggling contact, housework, the needs of her grandchildren along with that of her own two teenage girls.  Like most, she hadn't heard the term "kinship carer" until she became one and with the help of the Family Rights Group she represented herself in court for a Residence Order and also in the beginning of the Special Guardianship process.  She met with Karen and Sandy in 2009 and became part of the Kinship Foster Carers Group.  In that time she has met, helped and generally been there to support kinship carers locally and nationally within the group. She has supported and played an active role with organisations researching Kinship Care along with campaigning for better rights for carers and raising awareness.  Laura and Karen together, have launched our website and continue to update it with as much useful information as possible.  Laura is currently part of the Cross Government Working Group on Kinship Care working workings improvements for Kinshipcarers. Laura sadly passed away on 5th March 2014 but will always be part of our team and her family will always be part of our Kinship family.  May you Rest In Peace, our dear Laura. xxx  If you are interested in helping Laura's Legacy, please visit her page on this website for more information.



Vicki has been with Paul for over 20 years.  They run their own taxi company; mainly dealing with special needs transport and blue chip companies as well as Local Authorities.  Between them, they have 5 children that are now all adults.  Their kinship journey began when their granddaughter was a few months old, as a result of domestic violence and mental health issues.  They have had a Residence Order since October 2010.  Vicki was lucky to be found by Laura as they had a mutual friend; before this, Vicki had not met any other Kinship Carers.  "The support of the other admins and members is what got me through being dragged back through the Court system" says Vicki.  As an adopted child herself, her parents were fantastic.  "I had always known the truth about my adoption and have been very lucky.  Even though I have a very positive experience of adoption, it doesn't ever stop the feeling of abandonment so I didn't ever want my children or grandchildren to be in this position.  I actively support Kinship Care and truly believe it should be a household name such as foster and adoption.  It does change your whole life although it is not for everyone or every child".

  




Sandy has been married to Skeg for 7 years and has a 23 year old daughter and 2 year old grandson. The couple were enjoying married life; both working hard all week and socialising at the weekends, when in February 2008 they were asked, along with other family members, to consider providing a home for 5 children. Due to the fact they only had  a box room available and both had working careers, they offered respite at weekends to support the family. Soon after this discussion, the children were removed from their biological mother and placed with other family members. Still offering respite support, Sandy & Skeg had to be assessed by the Local Authority as Foster Carers which took 6 months. On the day of approval, they were looking forward to getting to know their nieces and nephews at weekends and holidays when they were informed, there and then, that the family case was also in Court and based on their approval as Foster Carers, the Judge ordered that 2 of the children would be placed with them permanently; starting from the following morning. Later that year, Sandy gave up her career to care for the children and decided to study for a BA (hons) degree in Childhood, Education & Society whilst actively seeking help and support from other Kinship Carers which, at the time, she found was non-existent. Sandy found a Kinship group on Facebook where she met Karen and Shelly and then met up with them at a Grandparent's Plus Lobby Day in 2009. From then on Sandy, along with Karen, supported Shelly in the running of the Facebook Kinship Foster Carers Group and continued to meet many wonderful Kinship Carers that became their new family. From that point, Sandy set up her own local support group (Hinckley Rocks) and continued to support and campaign for other Kinship Carers. To date, Sandy is still studying towards her degree with a view to supporting other Kinship Carers and their children in a professional capacity. Sandy also lectures part-time to educate Early Years professionals of the issues and barriers of Kinship Carers and their children.  Sandy is also the mastermind that created the now famous blue handprint that is fast becoming a well recognised symbol for Kinship Care.