Kinship Active Families Leap Forward

A project in Teesside to help kinship families get more active has reached its first major milestone.

Kinship carers step in to raise the children of family members or friends when their parents can’t any more, keeping children in the family and out of the care system. Kinship Active – the three-year project led by national charity Grandparents Plus in partnership with Teesside University and MFC Foundation and funded by Sport England – marked its first three months with a celebration event for over 40 kinship families.

Teesside has one of the highest concentration of kinship care families in the country, with an estimated 2,200 children being raised by family members and friends in the region. Over half of kinship carers are grandparents and they often struggle to maintain active lifestyles. A survey by the charity showed that a third of kinship carers were worried about their physical or mental health and that they might not be able to continue looking after the children. If this happened, there’s a risk that these children will end up in care.

Kinship Active has been supporting kinship families in Middlesbrough and Redcar and Cleveland by bringing them together and running fun activities. The local community has jumped on board to support the project and there are now £1 swimming sessions, table tennis groups, walking groups and a budding partnership with Street League who are running activities such as frisbee golf. A recent trip to South Shields saw over 130 carers take part in beach activities.

The celebration event took place at the Riverside Stadium recognising the achievements of the families taking part – including those who have carried out sponsored walks – with awards presented by club mascot Roary.

Dr Lucy Peake, Chief Executive of Grandparents Plus, said: “I’m constantly amazed by the incredible commitment kinship carers have. Many carers in Teesside have told us that they struggle to maintain an active lifestyle, which is why we’re so pleased and grateful to Sport England and our partners at Teesside University and Middlesbrough Football Club Foundation for making this project possible. It’s been brilliant to see how much fun families have been having, and also to see the support they’ve been giving each other.”

John Fothergill, Operations Manager at Middlesbrough Football Club Foundation, said: “Grandparents Plus’s Kinship Active project is a terrific initiative which diligently supports kinship care families, and thanks to funding by Sport England, it gives both children and guardians a wonderful opportunity to enjoy physical activity together. Many kinship families on Teesside will reap the rewards of this programme, and together with Teesside University, we are confident this ground-breaking project will be hugely beneficial to the community.”

Dr Liane Azevedo, Senior Lecturer in Physical Activity and Public Health at Teesside University, said: “I am delighted to work with Grandparents Plus on this project, which is unique in terms of promoting intergenerational physical activity intervention for grandparents and other relatives or friends raising children because their parents aren’t able to. There is a dearth of research in this area and our project has the potential to support the overall health, wellbeing and relationship for kinships families in the most deprived areas in our region.”

A recent survey showed that 32% of carers were worried about their physical or mental health and their ability to carry out their caring role.

Kinship Active is a three year project, led by Grandparents Plus in partnership with Teesside University and Middlesbrough Football Club Foundation, and has been awarded by Sport England.

Grandparents Plus is the only national charity in England and Wales dedicated solely to supporting kinship carers. They support all kinship families, whatever their situation. They believe that no kinship family should have to fight for the support they need. Find out more at