Heart of Midlothian FC – Kinship Care Programme
Launched in October 2015, the Kinship Care Programme delivers a range of support to families living within a Kinship Care Setting. Kinship Care was chosen as the main area of initial focus under Big Hearts’ family-focused strategy, and it continues to provide support to more families.
The Kinship Care Programme was designed to let Big Hearts Community Trust use the power of the club’s crest to support families in need, especially Kinship Care families.
Big Hearts Kinship Care Programme is being delivered in partnership with Mentor Scotland, a charity dedicated to protecting children and young people across Scotland with a key emphasis on supporting Kinship Care families.
Kinship Care is where a child lives with a family relative or close family friend for either a short period of time or permanently as their parents are unable to care for them. This is due to a number of reasons such as substance misuse, mental health issues or death.
Kinship Care families are widely unsupported across the country. They receive little support financially or practically. Many families are struggling to care and support these young children who typically experience multiple disadvantages and are likely to have experienced some form of abuse or neglect.
Located in the Gorgie Suite at Tynecastle Stadium, the after school club is for the whole family to attend and features a host of activities including for both kids and carers. A healthy and nutritious family meal is also provided. Importantly, Big Hearts provides opportunities for carers to meet, gather information and share the various challenges they can face.
This is an annual event organised by the Big Hearts Community Trust for Kinship Care families to have fun and enjoy interesting activities. In October 2017, Big Hearts held the 3rd annual Kinship Care Family Day at Tynecastle with over 300 guests attending.
As part of the ongoing development of the Kinship Care Programme, Big Hearts launched the Emergency Essentials Fund in 2017 to offer a new range of support for kinship families facing challenging financial circumstances. This was delivered in partnership with Buttle UK, a long established provider of crisis grants across the UK, helping Kinship Care families replace essential household items such as beds and beddings, white goods (cookers, washing machines, fridges) or furniture and kitchen equipment.
To date, and thanks to Big Hearts’ investment, Buttle UK has delivered over £26,000 in crisis grants – making a significant difference to the life of 60 vulnerable Kinship Care families. The latest report shows that 100% of applications received have been successful and the average grant per application is £425.
In 2017, Big Hearts launched a new project to provide additional support to the most vulnerable kinship young people. Called ‘Big Hearts’ Befrienders’, this project offers the opportunity for children aged 7-14 who are in kinship care to engage in social activities every week, in the company of an adult mentor who is also a trained Big Hearts volunteer. Choice of activities depend on the young person’s interests. By building a relationship with a trusted role model, these kinship young people get the chance to improve their emotional well-being and get more active in their community.