What do you hope to achieve in your new role?
I want to make sure that grandparents are recognised for the vital role they play in caring for children, whether that is a few hours a week after-school care, or taking on a full-time caring role. I also want to build on Grandparents Plus's formidable policy and research reputation. We will continue to work with grandparents, Government at all levels, and in partnership with other charities to do this.
We will be consulting with grandparents to make sure we understand their needs and develop new services to meet them, as well as speak out on issues that concern this very diverse group.
What experience do you bring to the role?
I've worked in the voluntary sector for 16 years - always in charities focused on children and young people. Before that I was a researcher with a specialism in gender and politics.
My last role at The Fostering Network was incredibly broad and varied - including membership development and engagement with more than 60,000 members, campaigning, fundraising and business development. I think all these skills will be relevant as Grandparents Plus grows and develops its reach, its services and its influence. And I will continue to put children and young people first.
What the main issues currently affecting grandparents?
Grandparents are a very diverse group, and their caring roles differ enormously. One in 74 children in England are being brought up by relatives because their parents are unable to look after them, and just over half are being cared for by their grandparents. At the same time, many working families rely on grandparents for childcare.
The Chancellor recently announced plans to give grandparents paid parental leave. What impact do you think this will have?
We are pleased the Government has recognised the important role grandparents play in supporting working families.
But we know that one in four working families rely on grandparents for childcare when they go back to work and many grandparents end up reducing their hours or giving up work so they can provide childcare. We need to extend their rights to flexible working and time off as grandchildren grow up. This would make a huge difference to families and enable parents and grandparents to balance work and care responsibilities.
You are considering merging with the charity The Grandparents' Association. When will this happen and what will be the benefit?
Grandparents Plus and The Grandparents' Association are continuing to discuss a merger. If this goes ahead, the plan is to continue with all the vital work that both charities do and to build on it so that we're more relevant to a larger number of grandparents, and also a more vibrant and sustainable charity.