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Hello my name is Joy

Online support group leader 

My name is Joy Squires, I am a former Worcester City Councillor (2008-2021) and Parliamentary Candidate for Worcester (2015 and 2017). Before becoming a full-time politician in 2014, I was a consultant in Children’s Services, helping set up many ‘Sure Start’ programmes and, later, Children’s Centres. My work brought me into contact with many ‘informal’ kinship carers – family members who were helping out in times of crisis – but, looking back, I cannot remember any discussion with local councils about kinship care or how the needs of children and families in kinship care could be met through Sure Start programmes or Children’s Centres.

My eyes were opened to the challenges faced by kinship carers and the children in their care when, by chance, I was out canvassing for the 2015 general election and knocked on Enza Smith’s door. From that point on I started asking questions of Worcester’s local councils and did what I could to deepen my knowledge of kinship care. It very quickly became clear that local and national politicians had scant knowledge of kinship care issues. I realised I could use my professional and political knowledge and experience to help Enza and other kinship carers. I became a Trustee of Kinship Carers UK in late 2015 and started on my journey of raising awareness of kinship care issues.

 

What I do

As a Trustee and Board member my main role is to make sure that Kinship Carers UK is run properly, has effective governance procedures in place and is working to achieve the aims and objectives set out in its constitution and governing documents. We do this through regular Board meetings and reporting.

Over and above this, I am specifically responsible for keeping a close eye on any parliamentary or local authority changes that have an impact on kinship families and raising awareness of kinship care issues. Pre-Covid this involved observing and speaking at local council meetings, lobbying the local MP and even a trip to Parliament. Why is this important? Because, in the end, it is local and national politicians who can influence the local policies and legislation that affect kinship families.

 

My reward

Hearing from kinship carers how the support of Kinship Carers UK has transformed their lives for the better. Kinship Carers UK makes a huge difference to the kinship families it works with. I am very proud to be playing a small part in that.