Heart of Midlothian FC players Zdeněk Zlámal, Peter Haring and Steven MacLean with Karen, Kinship Carer and her grandson Jojo
This week Big Hearts honoured over 300 guests at their 5th Kinship Care Family Day, known to be Scotland’s largest gathering of families living in this under-represented form of care.

This free open day hosted at Tynecastle Stadium – Edinburgh, offers Kinship Care families a host of fun activities to enjoy on the last day of the autumn school break. Owls petting, multi-sports, magic show, free lunch and stadium tours are designed to celebrate the resilience of children and adults living in a kinship setting. Over 18 local organisations are joining Big Hearts to promote support services available across the community.

As the charity of Hearts football club, Big Hearts uses football to raise awareness of Kinship Care and identify vulnerable families in need of support. Prior to this event, the charity released a short film.

In October 2015 Big Hearts launched their flagship Kinship Care programme. It offers a range of comprehensive support for young people and their adult carers, including a weekly after school club, a befriending service involving volunteer Hearts’ fans and a male carers group aimed at improving their wellbeing and social connections. The programme is currently supported by The National Lottery Community Fund and the Corra Foundation.

Danny with Bethany (3 years old) and Zach (10 years old) at Big Hearts’ 5th Kinship Care Family Day.

Craig Wilson, Big Hearts’ General Manager commented:

“At Big Hearts, we believe Kinship Carers are unsung Super Heroes who are doing an amazing job to raise and build a happy life for the young person they care for.
Our charity has been helping Kinship Care families thrive since 2015 and we are committed to continuing our work to increase public awareness and reach out to many of these ‘hidden’ families who could benefit from practical or emotional support.”

Carol, Kinship Carer from Gorgie Edinburgh, with her family Aaron, Tracy, Stuart and Aidan

Quote from one of the Kinship Carers supported by Big Hearts:

‘I started taking care of my grandchild when he was 10 months old. He is almost 6 now. Becoming a kinship carer has been a life-changing experience. Before I had a career and a social life, but I had to give up work. I progressively became isolated because my friends were not in the same situation anymore, and I became not as secured financially. All the paperwork and administrative jargon to go through… It was very unsettling. It took me a few years to make the step and come to Big Hearts’ Kinship Care after school club.

Nicole, Lewis, Morgan and Dean coming from Irvine, Ayrshire at the 5th Kinship Care Family Day at Tynecastle Stadium

‘At first, I thought I had everything under control, but I was struggling. It all changed when I met other kinship carers through Big Hearts. I didn’t feel judged – everyone in the room was in the same boat. It helped me talk comfortably about my challenges.’