National charities Grandparents Plus and Family Lives, with the support of the Big Lottery Fund, have launched a social experiment video in the hopes of lifting the nation’s blindfold and making kinship carers more visible. Social change company Shape History were commissioned by the charities to create a two and a half minute social experiment video to spearhead their kinship care campaign, highlighting the important role kinship carers play in the lives of the young.
There are roughly 200,000 children under the guardianship of kinship carers in the UK. Kinship carers step in when parents can no longer look after their children and often as a much needed measure to prevent children going into local authority care. Whether due to family tragedy or troubles in their day to day lives, they play a hands-on role in the upbringing of children across the nation and provide a much needed safety net for the next generation.
“The role of kinship carers doesn’t just refer to the everyday interactions an adult may have to support a child in their life. They find themselves taking on the unexpected role of becoming a parent – sometimes suddenly. Without them, they would likely enter the foster care system. That’s why when we were commissioned to make this video, we leapt at the opportunity to bring the subject to the forefront of public consciousness,” says Mike Buonaiuto, Executive Director of Shape History.
Providing a platform to ensure kinship carers are heard, through the launch of this social experiment film, the charities hope to change the attitudes towards such an impactful responsibility. The video introduces kinship carer, Rochelle, who now brings up two of her granddaughters full time – an 11 year old and 3 year old – and describes the struggles of taking on the role of guardian, explaining how she never envisaged bringing up a family again. Sharing her personal account of how she came to take on the responsibility, she reveals the stark and hard hitting realities of what would have happened to the children had she not been in their life.
Her story serves as an introduction to the social experiment, which sees Rochelle and her granddaughter visit Trafalgar Square with a board, detailing what a kinship carer is and inviting members of the public to provide messages of support. The aim of the video is to raise awareness of the unique role kinship carers can play in a child’s life and the importance of role models such as these in the lives of the people they look after. Had it not been for Rochelle, her granddaughters would have been separated, with the youngest being put up for adoption and the elder granddaughter taken into care.
The nationwide campaign launched on the 20th September across social media channels and invites audiences to share the film to build further awareness of the topic. Shining a spotlight on an issue that is far removed from public conversation but relevant to so many lives, the charities hope to build further support for kinship carers and let them know that they are no longer invisible.