A SINGLE mum who runs her own cupcake business has set up a support group for families who take special guardianship of children.

Elaine George, from Accrington, became a special guardian for two children but struggled to find a local support network.

A Special Guardianship Order (SGO) is made under the Children's Act 1989, which provides children who cannot live with their birth parents a legally secure placement or home.

Ms George, who opened the Pudding Box in Accrington last year, decided to set up her own support group at her shop.

She said: “I have one biological child, Abbie, and two children on an SGO, so decided to start a support group for other families who have a special guardianship or who are going through SGO assessments. An SGO is a lesser order than adoption, so social services aren’t involved.

“This can be hard because many of the children have faced difficult times, just like children who are adopted or fostered, and we take them in with very little training or support.

“SGO children also still get to see their birth family in most cases, which can sometimes be unsettling, and again this is something we have to deal with by ourselves. If the children were fostered or adopted there would be mandatory training for parents, but having an SGO means we are not eligible for access to these courses.”

Ms George, a former foster carer of seven years, said one of her SGO children, a little girl, first came to her home at seven weeks old, and quickly had a huge impact on her life. When she found out about the opportunity to apply for an SGO she jumped at the chance and started with the assessment process.

However, a week before the end of the assessments, Ms George was told her ‘daughter’ and her little brother were being put up for separate adoptions.

She said: “I was heartbroken, to find out they may be adopted and separated from each other, so I rang my solicitor, who advised me that I could take both children if I wanted to.

“This was very hard, as I didn’t know the little boy at that time and had to get to know him.

“However, in August 2015, the SGO was granted and both children came to live with me. We had limited support and it felt very lonely.

“Both children have additional needs which can sometimes be challenging and with no support it’s even harder. Having the Pudding Shop as a base has given me the strength to set up the SGO Support Group for others going through similar things.

“I want people to know they’re not alone and help make a difference for families that take out an SGO.”

The SGO Support Group takes place every Tuesday at 10am at the Pudding Box, Church Street, Accrington.

For more information visit Lancashire’s SGO Families or @oldschoolpudding on Facebook.