Celebrating Morriset Grandparents as Parents group
Samaritans Grandparents as Parents (GAPS) seeks to support grandparents who care for their grandchildren when circumstances mean the child is unable to live with their parents. As part of Samaritans GAPS service, there are 11 friendship groups that run weekly across the regions. One of these groups is our Morisset group. The Morisset GAPS group has been supporting grandparents who find themselves caring for their grandchildren for over twelve years from the All Saints Church within the Parish of Southlakes.
The group has been led in this time by a team of enthusiastic volunteers who wanted to support locals who found themselves in a challenging situation and needing someone to talk to.
Meeting weekly, the group reported that it was “difficult to count how many people we’ve supported over the twelve years” and looked back fondly on all of the people who had come in and out of the group.
“Many of the people we have been supporting for years now have adult grandchildren, but they keep coming back to the group to share morning tea and to support other people going through the same thing- somethings are just not meant to wind down!” Volunteer, Joy said.
Volunteers and grandparents alike agreed that through caring, some great friendships had been formed between grandparents, but also their grandchildren.
“Just last week we all went along to a music performance of one of the grandchildren. It’s great to support each other- knowing there are other people going through the same thing does help,” Volunteer, Ann said.
The group was small at first but picked up over the years.
“There seems to have been a change- we’re in a different era now, we know that asking for help is okay and so that change saw more people coming along to the group. That and of course, the winning cream cakes that we have for morning tea!” Ann said.
“It’s nice to be able to come to the meetings each week and to be able to reflect on the week in a safe space. We know we can listen to each other and there’s no judgement. It’s crucial for our sanity because it’s not always easy raising your grandchildren,” one of the Grandparents said.
The Grandparents reflected on the challenges they face as they care for their grandchildren.
“Sometimes it’s hard to make ends meet- you’re being paid a senior’s pension and sometimes it’s difficult to access support payments but you still have to feed very hungry teenagers!
“We’re ageing and often they (the children) have suffered significant trauma. It’s good to talk about these things with other people who understand rather than feeling isolated in the community,” a Grandparent said.
Volunteers and grandparents agreed that the group is providing life-saving assistance to grandparents.
“Samaritans is able to provide us with support and links to FACS so that we knew where to go and how to get assistance when taking children into our care. They helped us to advocate for our needs with local members and to bring some light to the challenges of raising grandchildren.
“The volunteers here need a gold medal every day of their lives for the difference they’ve made. I just don’t think we could ever thank them enough,” a Grandparent said.