Emmerdale star Jay Kontzle, who said he owes his grandparents everything, is backing a campaign to better support kinship carers to receive “the recognition they deserve”.

The soap actor, 32, who plays Billy Fletcher in ITV’s Emmerdale, was raised by his grandparents from the age of 4 following the death of his mother.

As part of a charity campaign, he is urging people to sign a petition calling on the Government to better support kinship carers.

Kontzle, who is an ambassador for the Kinship charity, said: “I owe my grandparents everything. They raised me and looked after me through thick and thin.

News and Star: Jay Kontzle/PAJay Kontzle/PA (Image: Jay Kontzle/PA)

“They gave me a purpose and a sense of belonging but they never received any recognition or support for what they did and the sacrifices they made.

“I’m backing Kinship’s campaign because kinship carers should be supported to bring up their own flesh and blood, not penalised.”

The actor, who is married with two children, features in a campaign video, explaining his wish for people to understand how important kinship love is.

He said: “My nan had to quit her job as a nurse to look after me, and my granddad had to work night shifts to earn more money.

News and Star: Jay Kontzle/PAJay Kontzle/PA (Image: Jay Kontzle/PA)

“They really struggled to get by and used their pensions to care for me. Being a kinship carer can be overwhelming sometimes, without any emotional or financial support for themselves or the child.

“My behaviour was terrible as a kid and I could be a nightmare sometimes because of what I’d been through, but they never gave up on me.

“My grandparents hadn’t planned to raise me but they did because they loved me, and yet they didn’t receive any help at all, despite all the sacrifices they made, and that’s not right or fair.”

News and Star: Jay Kontzle/PAJay Kontzle/PA (Image: Jay Kontzle/PA)

The actor added that kinship carers need to be recognised and supported for trying to do the right thing.

“If it wasn’t for them, I would have grown up in care and goodness knows what would have happened to me,” he said.