A KWINANA-based group set up to provide support for grandparents looking after their grandchildren has seen a rapid growth in membership from nine to 73 since it started last year.
The Grandparents Raising Grandchildren Kwinana and Southern Suburbs has embarked on awareness and fundraising campaigns to help fund support services and carer breaks.
Co-ordinator Kathy Webb said the group was started by three local families, comprising three grandparents and six grandchildren last year, with that number growing to 24 and 49 respectively.
“Grandparents raise grandchildren for many reasons such as death of the parents, mental health issues, and incarceration, drug and alcohol addictions,” Ms Webb said.
“Sadly, due to the rise of parental substance abuse there has been a rapid increase in the numbers of grandparents raising their grandchildren.”
Some of the grandparents were in their 80s. “It’s tiring the second time around, it’s exhausting,” she said.
Public relations officer Mel Shaw said the group helped break down isolation in the community.
“We’ve got a great group and people want to come onboard and get involved,” she said.
The group meets once a month at the Kwinana Red Cross building but is looking at holding twice-monthly meetings to cater to increasing demand.
“We meet to provide friendship and emotional support to one another, share knowledge, problems and plan future events,” Ms Webb said.
The group is fundraising, seeking donations and applying for grant funding to produce information packs and to hold respite weekends for carers.
The rapid growth of the group’s membership highlighted the “extreme need” for the community and government to overcome the lack of financial and emotional support currently available to grand families.
“So many grandparents feel isolated and alone and don’t know where to turn for help or support,” Ms Webb said.
“Our aim is to empower grandparents to know how and where to seek support from the very first day, allowing them to access current resources available.”
For further details about the group, contact Ms Webb on 0434 169 566, Maralyn Martin on 0405 168 797 or email firstname.lastname@example.org