‘I haven’t had time to grieve’: Woman caring for grandchildren after daughter’s death left with no support

A 61-year-old woman who was left caring for her two grandchildren after her daughter died earlier this year, said she has been left without support from the council.

Margaret Bastin, from Stockwell, Lambeth, has lived with her two grandchildren Lacy, 12, and Lucas, 10, since her daughter, Ella, died from ongoing health issues in July. 

The children had previously lived and had been enrolled in schools in Lewisham.

She said: “My daughter passed away on July 22, and as long as I am alive I will look after my grandchildren.

“When I asked the social workers in Lewisham for help organising a child arrangement order and for financial support they told me they didn’t have the money.”

A child arrangement order would make Ms Bastin the official guardian of her grandchildren.

She said: “I was chasing and chasing these social workers and every time they said they were in a meeting, on holiday, rushing to court and all promised to call me back but no-one did.

“Then in October I got two shopping vouchers. One was £15 and one was £40.

“Lewisham have shown complete disregard to our situation.”

From left, Lacy, Margaret Bastin and Lucas (Picture: Margaret Bastin)

Since they moved to Lambeth in July, neither of the children have been accepted into a new school and have missed the first three months of their school year so far.

Ms Bastin said: “I contacted Lambeth council but they said they were having problems getting my grandchildren’s information from Lewisham council because they hadn’t closed the case over there. 

“One school accepted my grandson but they didn’t know he had Special Education Needs (SEN) and my social worker in Lambeth said the school couldn’t get the funding from the council.”

Ms Bastin said her grandchildren’s mental health has suffered because of these delays.

She said: “I’ve reached out to everyone trying to get support for these children. They have been moved to a different borough with no friends and no mum.

“We’re in the cost of living crisis and there is no money –  without an arrangement order I don’t get child benefits and we are not entitled to emergency funding.

From left, Ms Bastin’s youngest daughter Melissa, Margaret Bastin, Ms Bastin’s daughter Ella who passed away (Picture: Margaret Bastin)

“I haven’t had time to grieve for my own baby, the children have had no bereavement councilling – my granddaughter says no one cares about us.

“I’m trying to stay strong dealing with everyone’s emotions.”

Ms Bastin said Lambeth council sent her a food parcel with toothbrushes and toothpaste and a £60 voucher – for food, gas and electricity.

She said: “Lambeth has been good to me but I’m struggling to make sure my grandchildren have food to eat.

“I’ve had to buy books from Amazon so my grandchildren can try and keep up with the school they’re missing.”

Ms Bastin attended a hearing for the child arrangement order yesterday and is now awaiting the certificate.

A spokeswoman from Lewisham council said: “Both children are now Lambeth residents and the relevant information including funding responsibility has been transferred over.

“The children remain on the roll of Lewisham schools as they are waiting for places to become available at a Lambeth school, this appears to have been delayed as they haven’t been places available in Lambeth schools.

“However, this has to be addressed by the relevant teams in Lambeth.

“The family has been supported throughout the process with advice on the school application and counselling, and financial support has been provided for food and other costs to do with the move to Lambeth.”

Pictured top: From left, Ms Bastin’s youngest daughter Melissa, Lucas, Margaret Bastin and Lacy at Ella’s funeral (Picture: Margaret Bastin)

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