About Us

Kinship Care

Across the country there are estimated to be 300,000 children who cannot be looked after by their birth parents, who are being looked after by the wider family (data provided by Grandparents Plus). There are many reasons for this from death of the parents, to ill health, disability, or because of abuse or neglect due to a number of factors, often drugs or alcoholism. 

Most people think that when a child is removed from a family they go into foster care and are looked after by strangers. This isn’t always the case.

Kinship care is different. 

  • Kinship Children are looked after by the wider family or friends, there are estimated to be 200,000 kinship carers in the UK.
  • Kinship carers regularly don’t get the financial, practical and emotional help that would be offered to regular foster carers and find themselves out of their depth navigating the social and legal systems.
  • Kinship carers may be expected to give up work, move house and pay for equipment for the children brought into their care.
  • Quite often kinship carers find themselves out of pocket and their lives having been turned upside down.
  • They can feel isolated from their friends, feel like they are different and that they have nowhere to turn for help and advice.

Data sourced from members own comments and recollections as discussed on the support forums, this is a closed site and access is strictly limited to kinship carers only. 

Who we are

Kinfest is a Registered Charity number 1171491 and is run entirely by volunteer kinship carers, all funds raised are used to fund future Kinfest events.  

The current Kinfest Trustees are Vicki O’Leary, Janellen Redington, Mathew Bushell, Rob Pitman, Anna Clough and Neil Stow.

What we do (Aims/Goals)

The aim of Kinfest is to alleviate the isolation felt by kinship children and their carers and ‘sharers’. They do this by providing opportunities for them to share recreational time together so that they may support each other and create memories together as a family unit, helping to promote bonds within the wider family; as well as meeting and becoming part of a wider social support network of over 1000 members.  This is done through an annual holiday, day trips and social events, as well as an online support forum.  

Kinfest’s annual holiday originated from the combined desire to share a holiday by kinship carers from the online support group with their children.  The first holiday site in Skegness was quickly moved to another local site where facilities were more appropriate to the needs of the group.  However since then the annual Summer Kinfest has started to move around, from Skegness to Tattershall to Mablethorpe, always fairly central in the UK. 

Kinfest Summer is now an annual event. Some lifelong friendships have begun at Kinfest. During the week there are a number of events organised to promote families spending time together, however families are not required to attend any of these events, and may wish to just relax as a family away from home.  In previous years the organised events have included a Sunday roast lunch and a circus skills workshop afterwards, a BBQ, sports day, high tea, and ‘bring a dish’ evening to name a few! 

A Mini-Kinfest was started in 2016, when demand for a holiday outstripped the availability in the summer.  2016 Mini Kinfest was held at Camber Sands during the Whitsun school holiday.  2017 Mini-Kinfest is based on the Isle of Wight, at the same time of year.  2018 saw 120 carers and children descend on Cornwall and in 2019 Snowdon is being invaded by kinship carers.

Kinfest organises a Christmas Party each year, with a meal, a disco and show, with presents for all the children who attend, delivered, of course, by Father Christmas himself.  

Kinfest also organises day trips and visits to places such as Theme Parks, Stately Homes, Football Stadiums, and Fire Stations.  In addition it organises ‘Walk and Talks’, coffee, cake and chat mornings, evening drinks and various other social events and gatherings. 

Why we do this

Kinship Carers are regularly the “forgotten” families of the Care system. We very often do not know what a Kinship Carer is until we become one. The feeling of isolation is very real, the children, carers and sharers all believing that they are the only one in such a situation.  We want to change that and bring the carers, children and sharers together to share experiences, make new friendships and feel a sense of inclusion and belonging.

Our aim is to raise funds to enhance not only the Annual Kinfest holidays but also short breaks and days out for Kinship families.

The little extras we provide on these gatherings really make a huge difference to the children and families.   The BBQ and family fun day is a highlight, where the family units have an opportunity to work together as a team in a contest against the other families to win the coveted ‘Laura Warner Trophy’.   The activity packs we put together help the children work together with other family members as well as keeping them amused on the frequent ‘wet days’ of a British Summer Holiday.  The children also receive spending money, sometimes this is all the pocket money they may have, for that little treat.

Reports back from previous Kinfest attendees comment on the new friends they have made, how their children could empathise with others, feeling at home and part of a wider family.  The children spend time with friends ‘like them’, something that they probably do not do at home or school.  For first time ‘Kinfesters’, they comment on how they suddenly feel relaxed, often for the first time since having their kin-children.  The carers do not feel they have to justify to anyone why they do what they are doing, they are just accepted.  For some it is the first family holiday they may have had.   Many families are also restricted to UK holiday destinations due to passport issues, or gaining permission to leave the country.