Our Beneficiaries


Kinship Children are the children of a family member or friend, who can no longer be looked after by their own parents, they may often have been fostered first before being looked after on a more permanent basis by their wider family or friends circle.  Many young children and babies will not have known anything different, but as they grow up it will become apparent that their situation is not ‘normal’, being able to make them feel as ‘normal’ as possible as they grow up is a very important undertaking of any kinship carer.  Older children often have feelings of neglect, abandonment, sometimes offering very challenging behaviours for the kinship carer to deal with. 

Harry, when told he was going to Kinfest on holiday and that he would meet other children living with family rather than with their parents, burst into tears and said to his Aunty “you mean there are other children like me?”


The family member or family friend that takes on the responsibility of a parent to one or more children who would otherwise have been placed into the social care system.  Carers are often grandparents, but also consist of older siblings, aunts, uncles, cousins, etc.  Often carers have no formal training, other than personal experience of being a parent.  However many of the children coming into the carers home have some deep emotional and behavioural problems caused by the environment from which they were removed/left.  This can include domestic violence, drugs, alcoholism, bereavement, their own disability that meant the parents were unable to cope, neglect, and abuse.   Carers often have their own feelings and emotions to deal with, the loss of their own child, or acceptance that they are classed as ‘unfit parents’.  Many carers are shunned by other family members, and can lose touch with their friends, who either don’t understand what they are experiencing or no longer feel they have anything in common with them.

J (who wishes to remain anonymous) looks after her 3 grandchildren, this is what she told us:

“I had to give up my career, not just a job but my lifelong ambitions.  Along with the career went my friends and work colleagues.  I no longer had a social life, even if I could get out I was never invited anywhere.  No one at my previous work wanted to hang round with 2 and 3 year olds.  I didn’t experience friendship again until I came along to Kinfest.  Now my best friend is a kinship carer, and amazingly lives in the same town as me.  I cannot thank the organisers of Kinfest enough for making that possible”


Sharers are those people, mainly children of the kinship carer(s) but can also be elderly relatives that live with the kinship carer(s) or other family members that form part of the family unit.  When a kinship carer decides to take on a kinship child, they will discuss the ramifications with any sharers.  However, it is often not until the child is actually placed with them that reality kicks in for everyone. Sharers suddenly find that they are having to share their bedroom, the dinner table, the bathroom, their parents’/carers’ time, toys and games, their space, even their feelings and emotions.  It can be a very turbulent time for sharers in the beginning, and they can feel just as isolated and lonely as the carer or the kinship children.  Sharers can often take on some parenting roles as well. 

Charlotte is 21 and currently studying at Bournemouth University.  She became a sharer at the age of 15 when her mother took in her sister’s two children, one of whom has FAS and ADHD.   

“Being a kinsharer. When my mother gained custody of my niece and nephew I was over the moon as I could still be large part of their life and enjoy watching them grow up. Although there are many perks of living with them both there was some drawbacks. An example of this is how it strained my mother’s finances as she did not plan another two children. Not only was this (an issue) but space (was also) an issue. This is when three of us were in one room and it became extremely cramped and it did not help routine due to the large age gaps as my niece was seven and I was eighteen and wanted to come back late at night. However I would not have changed the arrangement. It allowed me to watch my niece and nephew grow up and cross important milestones. For example watching them learning how to walk and talk. Having S and A live with me allowed me to have contact more than what I would have if they were placed in foster care or put up for adoption. Although family dynamics change it has made my family stronger.”

What do the beneficiaries gain by using our services

Benefits to Children

  • The knowledge that they are not the only child(ren) in the world not living with their parents, and more importantly living with their Nan, or Gramps, or Aunty etc.
  • The opportunity to spend time with other children in the same or similar situations as them.
  • The ability to share experiences and stories.
  • Making memories with their ‘new’ family, creating bonds and shared experiences.

Benefits to Carers

·       The opportunity to spend time with other carers in the same or similar situations as them.

  • The ability to share experiences and stories.
  • Making memories with their ‘new’ family, creating bonds and shared experiences.
  • Seeing their children and kin-children bonding and sharing with other children in similar situations.
  • Being able to relax without the feeling the need to justify what they have done to anyone.
  • The knowledge that other carers are around and should they require help or assistance with their children, be it kin-children or sharers, there will be someone to help them.

Benefits to Sharers

  • The knowledge that there are others like them.
  • The ability to share experiences and stories with their peers.
  • Seeing their parent(s) relax, enables them to do so too.Making memories with their ‘new’ family, creating bonds and shared experiences.
  • Having some ‘pre-kin-children’ time with their parent(s).Being allowed to have a break from being a carer too.

Ashleigh is now 22, she became a sharer 6 years ago when her mother took in her niece as a baby.  Ashleigh works in a nursery.  Here is what Ashleigh has to say about her experience with KINFEST:

“I was very worried about going to Kinfest the first time, but upon arriving we were instantly welcomed and I was able to meet people, like me. Others who had to share their parents and home with a kinship child. It’s a strange relationship with the child that nobody really understands, until I went to Kinfest. I made friends who understood exactly how I felt towards every situation, sharing my parents, my home, the relationship I have with my niece and also my brother (her birth father) it is so nice to be able to speak to people whose families are crazy like mine and understand every emotion. The friends I’ve made I know I could count on anytime – Kinfest made me feel like I wasn’t the only one feeling like my life had been tipped upside down!”


Kinfest knows that what it does makes a difference to the people who are able to attend the annual holiday, or any of the various other events organised during the year.

Although the organisation has only been going 8 years, Kinfest and its social support network, now assists over 1000 members who have in total over 1500 children in their care (taken from our membership poll).   Many cannot afford a holiday at all, and for some Kinfest is the only holiday they have.  We aim to increase the numbers currently able to access Kinfest holidays and events, and in order to do so we need regular funding.