Carers need all the help they can get

I am writing in response to your article about grandparents who raise their grandchildren  (0-19, Comment, August 2005).

I have looked after two of my grandchildren since March last year and have a residency order for them. This is due to my daughter – their mother – having a drug addiction.

When they first came to stay with me and my husband, we found it difficult financially as, although social workers are involved with my grandson, they are unable to help financially because family looking after their kin cannot be paid.This has been a difficult time, as we do not have the energy we used to have and my husband is very poorly with Myotonic Dystrophy. However, we love our grandchildren dearly and are very proud of them – our grandson is attending mainstream school despite his Muscular Dystrophy, and our granddaughter is attending a child care course at college despite missing a lot of school looking after her mother, brother and sister and being unable to sit any GCSE exams.

Several months after our grandchildren arrived, I applied for child tax credit and now receive a substantial amount, which has made life for all of us so much easier. I also receive child benefit for them, and we get a substantial rebate on our council tax.

We know many people do not apply for what they are entitled to because of the numerous and complicated means-tested application forms. But, by swallowing my pride and perseverance with these forms, it has all been worthwhile. If only carers could be informed automatically as to what help is available.

Name and address withheld

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