by Chris Tobin
For Timaru grandparents struggling to bring up grandchildren, help can be found, Margaret Pink says.
The Oamaru woman is a volunteer support co-ordinator with Grandparents Raising Grandchildren and has been travelling to Waimate regularly over the past 18 months to assist people.
She was also prepared to come to Timaru.
“I had my first contact from Timaru and she indicated there were others in a similar situation.”
The issue of grandparents raising grandchildren has been highlighted recently in a series of articles in The Courier regarding the widespread use of meth (P) in Timaru and South Canterbury.
There have been multiple instances of children being taken from the care of a meth-addicted parent or parents.
“It [meth] is common everywhere, which is sad. It’s causing huge breakdowns in families and splitting them up,” Mrs Pink said.
Meth was one of the reasons children could be taken from their parents at a very young age, from only months old up to teenagers.
Mrs Pink and her husband raised three grandchildren, all of whom are now adults.
She said many people did not realise the great pressures placed on grandparents who had to reorganise their lives just at a time when they were looking forward to taking a step back.
“They are struggling a lot. They do get a benefit but it’s not a huge amount. They are in their 40s or 50s and some are in their 60s.”
The financial burden was difficult, Mrs Pink said, and often grandparents had to give up part-time jobs to look after the children.
“That can cause resentment; grandparents feel they have lost their independence.”
Grandparents felt guilt sometimes because of what had happened with their sons and daughters.
“It’s hard to handle and the children often come to their grandparents with psychological problems and are physically damaged.
“It’s huge for grandparents to come to terms with.”
Mrs Pink said there was also a stigma in society against grandparents bringing up their grandchildren.
“People are judging them when they turn up at kindy.”
Mrs Pink said people in Timaru and other parts of the region wanting her help should log on to the Grandparents Raising Grandchildren website grg.org.nz and lodge their request.