I am often asked how to set up a support group, it was always an aim of BGSG to help grandparents to set up their own groups so that there is a network across the UK.
All groups are independant and how they are run is up to the leader of that group, some may just be via zoom ect,others may be in person, some will be both, you can find a list on our website under ‘In Your Area.’
If you can’t find one in your area, then how about setting one up yourself, it doesn’t have to be arduous or large, it is entirely up to you.
There are a few important things to remember.
Meetings must be confidential, grandparents need to know that they have a safe space.
Never be judgemental.
Don’t pretend to be a legal expert, you aren’t, suggest proper legal advice is sought.
If you don’t know the answer to a question, say you don’t know but you will find out and get back to them.
The clue is in the title, support group, you are there to give support.
Here is a simple ‘To Do List.’
: Write down your aims and objectives
: Publicity is key.
: Don’t forget you!
Your aims and objectives will of course be personal to you, but think about what you want to achieve.
If people don’t know you exist, they can’t contact you. So put up posters in your local area, libraries, medical centres , shops (many supermarkets have community boards.)
Write to your local papers, you could write to their letters page, explaining what you want to do and why. Make sure you fix a time, date and meeting place.
Write to your MP, to raise awareness.
If you are trying to get a group together, you need to think about where to hold meetings and how often. Maybe your area has small halls, or maybe a local office allows community groups to use an area for a low cost or free. Sometimes local lawyers have unused space. (Just be aware that people may be reticent to go to a lawyer’s office.)
Running a group can incur costs, hire of a room, refreshments ect so think about how you are going to raise funds. It may be that you can ask members for a small donation at meetings, or apply for funding, many supermarkets have fund raising schemes.
Fundraising might be holding a raffle, having a cake sale, a sponsored activity.
Remember to get support for yourself.
Supporting those who are in despair can and does take its toll, you must make sure you have a trusted person you can unload to in confidence.
Ask your members to give you practical support when needed.
The last thing is to not give up!
It takes time and perseverance.
The difference you can make to another is enormous.
We will support you in any way we can.
It is important to know that it doesn’t have to be a formal group, you can just link up with one or as many as you like, to share a cuppa and a natter.
All you need is the desire to support others in the same situation as yourself, to prevent isolation and loneliness that grandparents feel when they are estranged from their grandchildren, and above all else you must be a good listener.