I saved my grandkids from a criminal home, but now I'm skint

DEAR DEIDRE: I COULD lose my little grandchildren as I can’t afford to look after them.

Last year my husband and I went to court to become legal guardians of my daughter’s children, a girl aged one and a boy aged three.

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My 30-year-old daughter had gone off the rails after leaving her husband.

She met an awful guy, who is heavily into drugs and crime.

She got into drugs too, was arrested for shoplifting, seriously neglected the children, and finally social services took them away.

She had moved a long way away from home so I had no idea any of this was going on until a social worker contacted me.

I’m 55 and was happy to take on my grandchildren, as was my husband, who is 58.

We were told we’d get money to cover my loss of income, as I had to give up work, but what we’ve been paid doesn’t nearly cover my wages.

As a result we’ve run up huge debts, we are late paying the rent and in danger of being evicted.

The court has refused to give us any more money.

My husband is working himself into the ground and says that if things don’t improve, the children will have to go into care — and that’s the last thing I want.

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He’s not my daughter’s father, so the grandkids aren’t his blood, which means he doesn’t have such an emotional investment.

But I want them to stay with us, and they’re settled and happy.

I just don’t know how to make the sums work.

Are there any charities that can help us? I’m so angry at my daughter for creating this mess.

DEIDRE SAYS: It must feel like you are being penalised for doing the right thing.

By caring for your grandchildren, you are saving the local authority a lot of money, and you should not be forced into poverty as a result.

There is money for people in such circumstances and it should be made available to you.

Please contact a charity called The Family Rights Group (frg.org.uk, 0808 801 0366) who will understand the issues here and can help you to access what you’re entitled to.

As for getting the things you need for the children, there are various websites offering free equipment/toys/clothes, such as Freecycle.

You can also get in touch with citizensadvice.org.uk who can give you more advice on benefits and allowances.

My support pack on Solving Debt Problems should help, too.

Please explain your difficult circumstances to anyone you owe money to – they may be more sympathetic than you expect.

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