There are over one million children across the UK who are denied contact with their grandparents, due to family breakdown. This can be as a result of separation/divorce, alcohol/drug issues, domestic violence issues, bereavement or family feud.
As with so many experiences in life, you have no idea that this can happen to you, until it does.
I was denied contact with my granddaughter in 2007, we had been a big part of her life for seven years, and when my son and his wife divorced , contact was stopped.
A grandparent has no automatic legal right to see their grandchildren.
It is possible to go down the legal route, you have to apply for leave, to apply for a contact order, and then apply for an order. I have to say that I never advise grandparents to go down the legal route, firstly because it is a very emotional, stressful ordeal, and very costly. I have grandparents in my group who have spent their entire life savings on going to court, and still no contact.
One issue is that even if a contact order is agreed, should the resident parent decide not to turn up at the agreed time and place, you are back to square one and back to court.
For me I felt I just had to do something, and so I set up Bristol Grandparents Support Group, it took around 18 months to get going, I knew that there must be lots of grandparents feeling just like me locally, so I wrote letters to local newspapers, magazines, etc, I soon discovered that grandparents are so afraid of making the situation worse ,they are reticent in putting their head above the parapet. I gave it one last chance and wrote a letter with the headline, ‘Tea and Cake for the Grandchildren,” inviting grandparents who were denied contact to come and share a piece of cake and a cuppa, and it worked, the first meeting nine grandparents turned up.
Maybe the moral here, could be always involve cake?
So the seed was planted, and it has grown and grown, I give support over the phone, email via my website and at regular meetings.
I have to date been contacted by grandparents all over the UK, America, Israel, and beyond.
I now have grandparents who want to set up groups in their own areas, in Norfolk/Suffolk , London ,Yorkshire , Sussex, and continuing to grow. I am linking up with a lay Pastor in Virginia, America who is setting up a group.
I am very happy to support anyone who is interested in setting up a group.
There is no membership fee in becoming part of the group and I am independent from any other organization.
Not only do I have a website, where you can find lots of information but I write a blog which is where I am able to keep grandparents up to date with what is going on.
If you are a grandparent denied contact with your grandchildren then please get in touch, you are not alone.
Bristol Grandparents Support Group-
Almost exactly 5 years ago our first grandchild was born. He has given so much pleasure, joy and hours of free entertainment. He now has a brother so we have double the fun! The thought of not being able to see them is too awful to contemplate.
I was therefore disappointed to read yesterday that David Norgrove, in his Family Justice Review, has recommended that fathers and grandparents should not be given any legal rights to see the children following a marriage break-up. We have witnessed the heartache caused to friends of ours when access was denied
Grandchildren often form very close bonds with their grandparents who invest huge amounts of time, emotion and often money in the relationship. This can be a source of great stability and continuity to children caught in the crossfire and turmoil of marriage break-up.
It is understandable that nobody would welcome lengthy and expensive custody disputes. We must put our trust in Ian Duncan Smith, the Works and Pensions Secretary who says he will ensure that the Government does more to further the rights of fathers and grandparents . We must not underestimate the special relationship that can exist between children and their grandparents.
If you feel strongly about this, express your views to the Government via silverlinksnetwork.