Our Employability Program
While it’s been a dream from the beginning for our founder, Anna-Lou, our Employability Program launched in Feb 2022 with it’s first kinship carer being offered paid work within the Kinship Kitchen Catering company.
We’ve previously discussed the benefits that come from the community we’ve created with our Kinship Carers Cooking Club, and how were offering families skills to cheaply make healthy meals at home. While we support the current campaign for equal allowances with foster carers, we felt that something more/different was needed to address the ongoing (and seemingly ever increasing) financial needs of kinship carers.
Like Anna-Lou had heard over and over again in her experience of many years spent working with kinship carers as a Local Authority social worker, the research also shows that there are often significant challenges kinship carers face. Research by Selwyn et al. (2013) found that some of the main challenges affecting kinship care placements were:
- Most kinship carers live in poverty, often as a result of their caring responsibilities
- 70 per cent of carers had a long-standing health condition or disability
- Around two thirds of carers were clinically depressed (and many were affected by bereavement)
- Carers and children often had difficult relationships with the children’s birth parents
- Coping with children’s emotional and behavioural difficulties (a third of children in kinship care had abnormal levels of difficulty)
- A lack of support from family members and Children’s Services.
Those who had been in work before becoming kinship carers often find they need to reduce their hours or give up work entirely to be able take on the full-time care of their family member or friend’s child, often causing them to struggle greatly with finances due to the low rates of financial support they are offered in return of their care of these children. In some cases carers that had previously retired, have found themselves in the position of needing to return to work to meet the level of finances needed to raise additional children that sometimes enter their care in a very urgent, unplanned way. In June 2021, Kinship UK launched their first Kinship Care Financial Allowances Report (2021). They found:
- 76% of kinship carers do not feel they have enough financial support to meet the needs of the children they are caring for, for those caring informally, it’s 92%.
- 82% of kinship carers had worried about their financial situation over the past year.
- 36% of kinship carers receive no financial support from their local authority, it’s 85% of kinship carers on an informal arrangement.
- The average weekly allowance for informal carers is just £18.46.
- The average weekly allowance for carers with a formal special guardianship order is just £91.31.
- Last year, one-quarter of kinship carers said their allowance was cut following annual means testing.
Full Kinship report is available here: https://kinship.org.uk/financial-survey/
Kinship Hub’s pilot employability program is currently targeted at Kinship Carers in six Local Authorities in South London who have either had to leave employment to focus on their caring role, or are having difficulties re-entering the world of work due to their caring role. The program involves supporting carers to obtain food safety qualifications, receive mentorship, and gain paid work opportunities through Kinship Hub's commercial catering activities within Kinship Hub’s trading arm, Kinship Kitchen. Kinship Carers taking part in the scheme are also able use the qualifications obtained to gain employment outside of the scheme, or start their own business. We’re incredibly proud to have launched the first employability program in the UK specifically targeted at Kinship Carers.
The main aims of the employability project are to:
- Offer a route out of poverty for Kinship Carers, a flexible way for kinship carers to enter/ re-enter employment.
- Improve the self-esteem/mental health of Kinship Carers.
- Create a source of sustainable funding for Kinship Hub through our commercial activities.
To find out more about how you can support this program and help us to offer more paid work opportunities to even more kinship carers, check out our Kinship Kitchen offerings at https://www.kinshipcarershub.org/kinship-kitchen-catering and be in contact to discuss partnerships, or your private/party/corporate catering needs.