March 20-26 is Grandparents Raising Grandchildren Trust Awareness Week.
It's a growing trend where grandparents, through necessity, are having to raise their own grandchildren. The children's parents could be absent, incapable, unwilling or violent, leaving the grandparents to step in and assume responsibility, often at great cost - financially or otherwise - to themselves.
Grandparents Raising Children Trust (GRG) has 9000 members nationwide, so it's that number of grandparents at least who are raising children a generation removed.
"That's just the tip of the iceberg," says local GRG co-ordinator, Jenny Morton.
To raise awareness and to let grandparents in that situation know that they are not alone and that there is help out there, Jenny has booked a space at Trafalgar Square on Monday and Thursday that week, from 9am to 6.30pm.
Grandparents who are raising their grandchildren, whanau carers, and anyone who needs information, advice or a willing ear, can talk to GRG members then. There is written information available and ways in which GRG can help.
Many people in that situation are unaware of their entitlements, so GRG can support with advocacy when dealing with Government departments, Jenny says. Places like Work and Income, ACC, CYF, Family Court and Youth Justice can be daunting and GRG provides support and advice.
"A lot of grandparents have to give up work to bring up their grandchildren and they are just not recognised," says Jenny.
Some face family intimidation so are afraid to claim their rights and any help to which they are entitled.
GRG is also holding a picnic at Kowhai Park on Saturday, March 25 from 11am. Families can bring a picnic lunch and share some time and stories with people in similar circumstances.
Donations to Grandparents Raising Grandchildren, as well as membership applications, can be made on the website www.grg.org.nz
GRG's services support and empower caregivers when grandparents suddenly have to take care of their grandchildren under Rights and Responsibilities, Relating (to grandchildren), Rebuilding (lives), Resolution and Resilience.