Six years ago, I had to leave a good job after the owner left and his son took over. He was very difficult to work for, and we didn’t get on at all, so I didn’t feel like I could work there anymore. I was a carer for my grandchildren when my daughter went back to work, but after three years I decided to start job hunting again.
I found it very difficult to get a job despite my experience, as an older person I had a suspicion that my CV was ending up straight in the shredder.
I did eventually find a job, and agreed a start date. Before I could start however, my son and his partner split up, and there was a court case over custody of my granddaughter. While the case was going on, neither were considered suitable guardians.
Taking on full time care of a grandchild
There were two choices: for me to take my granddaughter in, or for her to go into care. Of course, I took her in. She was a baby, barely a year old, so I quit the job I hadn’t yet started to look after her full time.
The court case ended about a year later, with neither partner found suitable. I applied for special guardianship, as I wasn’t going to let my granddaughter go into care. It was a very intense and intrusive process, but I managed to apply successfully. I now care for her full time, as well as caring for my adult son who has mental health needs.
I am now in a very tough situation financially. I didn’t get the financial support I expected, and had been told I would get, during the special guardianship application. I get a very small amount of money every fortnight as maintenance for my granddaughter, a tiny amount compared to what a foster parent would get. I work seven hours a week at a minimum wage job, and I get Universal Credit. I was born just too late to retire at 60, so will have to wait a few more years for my pension.
‘I feel stuck’
I live in a house I own jointly with my ex-partner, who still lives there. We have to keep up this awkward situation as we can’t afford to sell. I would need a house for me, my granddaughter, and my son, which I can’t buy with my share of the house.
I feel stuck. I don’t want to stop caring for my son and granddaughter, but I also can’t move away from my ex-partner. I’m barely getting by, with no luxuries, and I haven’t had a holiday for years now.
There are lot of grandparents out there in my situation, and I feel like the Government does not appreciate us.
We save them a lot of money by providing child care, and keep grandchildren out of foster care, which is also very expensive. The assumption is ‘oh they’re all alright’, but a lot of us don’t even have £1000 in the bank.
Have you been affected by any of these issues?
This blog represents one individual’s experience; personal circumstances differ – if you have been affected by any the issues in this blog and want some advice about your own situation please contact Independent Age’s Helpline on 0800 319 6789.
The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the policy or position of Independent Age.