Sunderland charity More than Grandparents receives £5,000 funding to provide further help for families across the region

A Wearside-based charity is set to deliver more essential services to families across the region following a £5,000 donation.

Wednesday, 3rd August 2022, 4:37 pm

More than Grandparents, based in Atheneaum Street has received £5,000 from The Bernicia Foundation, a charitable Trust set up by North East housing association.

The charity offers essential support to grandparents and families who take on the role of parents to keep vulnerable children out of the fostering or adoption system.

More than Grandparents is now looking to use the money to provide a new 26-week wellbeing support project to help those suffering from or in isolation, requiring trauma attachment therapy, living in poverty and needing our close intervention or general counselling services in Sunderland and Durham.

More Than Grandparents CEO, Melanie Nichols (right) with Grandmother, Maureen Harrison.

The Wearside charity helps over 300 families, including single people who have become parents to young children.

Following the pandemic, the group has seen their reach spread further afield so are now hoping to take their expertise to families, instead of families having to make the journey to Sunderland for 1-2-1 support, counselling-based sessions or use of the facilities.

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More Than Grandparents’ CEO and founder Melanie Nichols, said, “We’re seeing more and more people coming to us, a lot through word of mouth, so we’re looking to put the money towards a new 26-week wellbeing support project.

Charity More than Grandparents has received £5000 in funding from The Bernicia Foundation.

"It will also help us to maintain our much valued peer chat groups, 1-2-1 advice sessions, after-school recreation and craft clubs, creche facilities, therapy and counselling, and an in-demand food bank to many more kinship families across Wearside and Durham. However, this all comes with ongoing costs.

“We’re very grateful of the funding from The Bernicia Foundation as without external donations like this, we simply could not do the job we do for the hundreds of families.”

Grandparent Maureen Harrison, is one of many kinship families in the North East and as primary carer to her ten-year-old granddaughter, she has relied on the charity’s services for almost eight years.

She added: “They just get it, they’re tremendous and are there for us, by our side whenever it’s needed. By having a place to meet, where people will listen and you can chat things through without judgement relieves a lot of pressure. They help with everything and I can’t praise them enough.”

“The reality is that families are just not given the right support, financially or otherwise from the beginning when it’s needed. We need to go searching for it and charities like MTG and Mel become a daily lifeline to so many."

More Than Grandparents is also calling on the UK Government to put in place recommendations from a recent report due to ‘the lack of financial assistance’ available to carers who being impacted by the cost of living crisis.

Melanie added: “This is recognition at a very high level that the system just isn’t working for kinship carers, and as a charity working closely with hundreds of North East families, we see this first hand.

"The lack of immediate financial support is obstructive, more so now with the cost of living crisis, and it is putting extreme strain and unnecessary worry onto families when they have stepped up, with unconditional love, often unplanned and in a time of emotional crisis, to raise and parent a child as their own for years to come.”