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LONE PARENTS TO RENT A GRAN

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Children without grandmothers will soon be able to have publicly-funded substitutes under a government-backed schem...
Children without grandmothers will soon be able to have publicly-funded substitutes under a government-backed scheme to be announced today.

The Sunday Times (p4) reported that mothers with small children who do not have close relatives to help out can apply for 'community grandmothers'. The pilot project, covering Thurrock in Essex, will be run jointly by the local authority and voluntary groups. If successful, the 'rent-a-granny' scheme could be extended, depending on the level of interest from families and the number of experienced grandmothers willing to take part.

The DfEE said: 'It will be like creating an extended family. When a person is feeling low, they will have someone to turn to'. However, critics fear the scheme will simply create an army of government-sponsored babysitters and say that, by artificially attempting to rebuild lost structures, the scheme will fail to address the root causes of family breakdown.

Valerie Riches, director of Family and Youth Concern, said the scheme was misconceived. 'The whole idea is just quirky,' she said. 'Rent-a-grans would not have the sense of commitment of a real grandmother, whose relationship is bound with love and a blood tie. It is very difficult to judge the suitability and motivation of a volunteer.'
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