Role of Sheffield grandparents is becoming more vital

Sheffiled 50+ Club
Sheffiled 50+ Club

Grandparents are often portrayed as retired, grey-haired people who have plenty of time of their hands.

However,a new survey examining the contribution grandparents in Sheffield make towards the lives of children and young people has unveiled a different story.

Sheffield 50+ has discovered many city grandparents play a vital role in caring for their grandchildren.

Many also spend time caring for a parent, older relative or neighbour, while one in six have had to either give up work, reduce their hours or take holidays in order to care for their grandchildren.

Sheffield 50+, an independent voluntary group, sent the survey to its members in its network – with 266 responses sent back.

Susan Marshall, aged 63, of Walkley and husband Alan, 65, regularly look after two of their grandchildren – Jacob, seven, and six-year-old Paige – as well as elderly relatives.

Alan said: “I wouldn’t want anyone else looking after them. We get out with them, we try to teach them things. Hopefully they learn things. Trying to keep them off the X-Box is hard.”

Grandfather-of-11 Christopher Longden, aged 70, from Halfway, said: “I wouldn’t change a thing, apart from my health. I can’t do as much and get frustrated.

“We have just altered our situation. We had three bedrooms, but one has been converted for our youngest granddaughter to stay in.”

Retired Patricia Deakin, 62, of Stannington, helps care for Freya, 10, who suffers from celebral palsy, and five-year-old William.

She said: “Because my daughter is divorced from the children’s father, it’s more a role of stepping in to do things.

“It’s a couple of hours here and there because she is on her own.”

The survey was the brainchild of former Hillsborough MP Helen Jackson, a member of the management committee at Sheffield 50+ and a trustee of Grandparents Plus.

She said it showed how vital the role of grandparents was.

She said: “The striking thing is s just how the significance of grandparents roles isn’t decreasing.

“People think of grandparents as the very elderly, when actually 75 per cent of grandparents are aged between 45 and 65.

“We are talking about three-quarters of those who are looking after their grandchildren full-time are of working age.”

Helen said the organisations are working to get the role of grandparents recognised.

She said: “One of the big things we have done is to get employers, social services, local authorities and the Government to take that care seriously.

“They lose money out of it and they are often keeping their children in work and doing a very valuable job.

“A lot of what we do is strengthening that cause and get grandparents recognised.

“They actually give up their lives and frequently give up their jobs.”