Mary has been raising her 3 grandchildren, Stephen age 13, Jamie Lee, age 12 and Cathlin, age 10 for the last 9 years.
Mary took on the full time care of her grandchildren when her daughter fell ill. Her daughter subsequently died, leaving Mary to bring up the children. Despite a number of serious health issues, including a brain tumour, Mary stepped in to care for her grandchildren because she didn’t want to see them split up or being taken into care.
Mary spends 2 hours every week organising our ‘Kin Together’ Support Group in Belfast and another 6-10 hours calling with kinship carers and taking them out for a cup of tea to make sure they are doing ok. Over the last 18 months Mary has organised tea parties and information days, even familiarising herself with the Internet and Microsoft Publisher to design leaflets advertising support group activities.
Mary supports some of the most vulnerable kinship care families in her community. She responds to calls as late as 10 o’clock at night – putting everything, including time with her grandchildren to one side to listen to the concerns of carers. She has been instrumental in helping kinship carers develop friendships with each other so they feel less isolated and more confident in their kinship role.
Mary’s biggest fear is that she will die and her grandchildren will end up in care. This causes Mary to get extremely upset as her youngest grandchild is 10 and she is terrified she will not live long enough to see her grandchildren grow up.