If you were a grandparent and, completely out of the blue one morning, you received a telephone call from social services to tell you that your grandchildren were about to be taken into care, what would you do?
Imagine you are retired and all of your life you and your husband have been waiting for the day you could ease back on the throttle and spend your hard earned pension doing the things you want to do and see the sights you have both dreamed of seeing.
This situation faces many grandparents up and down the country on a daily basis.
Many put down the phone , put on their coats, go into battle on behalf of the little ones and by evening find themselves facing an extra twenty years of parenthood.
If you talk to any grandparent in this situation the problems follow a similar theme. Stress due to restricted income and the lack of support, financial or otherwise, from local authorities.
Many grandparents feel isolated and lonely, daunted by the prospect of having to rear teenagers without the support network available when they were younger.
Also, there is usually the problem to deal with which created the situation in the first place; drugs, death, despair or all three.
In Mid Bedfordshire, thanks to the work and sustained effort of one very wonderful lady - Karon Jennings - grandparents facing the future as parents, do so with the emotional support that can only be provided by others who know exactly what you are talking about when you need to talk a problem through.
With help and effort it may now be possible to influence the way funding is allocated. The debate needs to be raised, as it has been a number of times in Parliament, however, local authorities now need to step up to the plate and realise that each child being looked after by a grandparent saves the local authority around £4,000 per week.
As one councillor said to me recently, “If two or three children suddenly needed to be taken into care that would play havoc with the budget”.
I am sure it would, which is why every local authority needs to recognise and respect the job being undertaken and wonderfully done by those grandparents who, like so many others, had looked forward to some of the nicer things in life they have worked so hard for.
If you are a grandparent/parent in Mid Bedfordshire or if you know of any Grandparents assuming parental responsibilities, than please give them the following number and contact details.
It could make all the difference.
For more information, Karon can be contacted on:
0789 508 4604