Jersey Citizens Advice Bureau has said some grandparents, who are struggling financially as a result of having to raise a grandchild, have turned to the charity asking for money to buy school uniforms and in some cases food.
Malcolm Ferey, chief executive of the charity, said that although the numbers were not too high, he had dealt with quite a number of people who – out of necessity, not choice – have been left looking after their grandchildren, as a result of their own children’s struggle with substance abuse or addiction.
Mr Ferey said: ‘Let’s face it, we know Jersey has a drug and alcohol problem and being a parent doesn’t stop people having those problems.
‘It’s very sad to see it but you can understand that a parent would do anything to help their child who is struggling, but very often this puts a strain on their [the grandparents] own resources.’
He said that in the event of a grandparent becoming a child’s legal guardian, financial help would come in the form of income support, but added that in the short-term grandparents were often forced to turn to charities for help.
Jason Wyse, chief executive of the Silkworth Charity Group, a rehabilitation centre for Islanders with drug and alcohol addictions, said that while it was often inevitable for there to be financial repercussions on those taking on the responsibility of a recovering addict’s child, he added that each situation is different, making it very difficult to quantify the scale of the problem.
Mr Wyse said: ‘The knock-on effect is huge [for the grandparent or family member], but the cost impact depends on the family. And every case is individual. From what I understand, there is a lot of Social Security support offered to families in these situations but I am aware that not everyone falls into a category where help is available.’
According to latest figures an estimated 200,000 children in the UK are being raised by a family member other than their parents due to substance and alcohol abuse. Findings also show the burden often falls on grandparents, with many of them running up debts and even facing bankruptcy trying to cope with the unforeseen event of becoming a surrogate parent.