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ALMOST nine years ago loving granny Irene took over the care of her tiny grandson.

John (not their real names) was only four months old at the time, but Irene's son and his wife were both drug addicts and unable to look after their baby.

He risked being taken into care but Irene and her husband Bob (not his rea; name) stepped in and have been his kinship carers ever since.

John has grown up into a loving young boy who is a keen footballer and the apple of his gran's eye.

But his tragic start in life left the youngster suffering from methadone withdrawal as a result of his mother taking the drug during pregnancy.

And even today, he has ongoing problems related to his introduction to methadone in the womb.

Irene, 62, who lives in Springburn, admits taking on the care of her grandchild has not always been easy.

But she insists she would not change a day of the past nine years, and is clearly de- voted to her young charge.

More than 100 kinship carers from across Scotland visited the City Chambers today for the launch of the National Kinship Alliance and to campaign for the rights of the children in their care.

Most are grandparents who have taken on the role because their children are affected by drink or drugs or have died.

Alliance chairwoman Anne Swartz, who is from Dumbarton, said: "We are sick of seeing the children in our care suffer without the basic support from local authorities.

"Kinship children are routinely written off and discriminated against while foster placements have access to a wide range of support and services.

ENOUGH is enough. We have come together to put a stop to this institutionalised discrimination and fight for the rights of our children.

"The Alliance was partly formed in response to large charities being tasked with representing and supporting kinship carers.

"We do not feel these agencies represent us and want direct access to policy makers and politicians.

"We are the experts with the best knowledge of the issue and its solutions. From now on, we should be the first port of call on kinship care for all service managers and policy makers."

Anne Marie Peffer, Scotland manager of children's charity Buttle UK, said relatives who bring up a child face a huge personal cost.

She added: "Kinship carers keep children out of the care system and with family where they have stability and continuity.

"The children are thriving but we have been taken aback by the poor health they suffer and the severity of the financial hardship they are enduring.

"While scrimping and saving, unable to provide even basic items, they are saving the Scottish Government millions in care costs each year."

A council spokesman said: "We are committed to supporting kinship carers through our formal kinship scheme and through our support to the five kinship groups across the city.

"In this year's budget, more than £380,000 was pledged to employ extra staff to work with kinship carers and provide support for them.

"Special payments for birthdays and Christmas will also be made to kinship children and we will continue to support the Notre Dame Centre to work with carers.

"We fully acknowledge the vitally important role played by kinship carers and the commitment they have to the children in their care is greatly appreciated."

vivienne.nicoll @eveningtimes.co.uk

THE aims of the new National Kinship Alliance are:

l to campaign for the rights of the children in their care.

l to fight for the same funding as foster carers.

l to get more support from local authorities.

l to get direct access to policy makers and politicians making the decision.