As we work through 14 years of running Bristol Grandparents Support Group, we have reached an unenviable milestone.
We have been contacted by over 8,000 grandparents who are facing the most heartbreaking time, they are all being unjustifiably estranged from their grandchildren, often not even knowing why.
The aim and objection of all support groups should be, helping those in need of help and support, at the time it is required.
It is not about self interest (ego), it is not about point scoring from one group to another.
Over 14 years I have tried to get all groups to work together, after all are we not all championing the rights of grandchildren to caring, ongoing relationships with all their family members?
As I have written many times previously, sadly it is not as simple as it seems.
Any group or organisation should not be about one individual, about one person seeking the limelight, it should always be about those we strive to support.
Once those fundamental values get lost, the aims and objections have gone.
Over the last year it has been certainly been a difficult time for many charities, not able to physically support people has taken its toll, zoom meetings will never replace being able to sit in a room and hold someone’s hand, not being able to be out out and about fund raising etc.
It has also been a time for reflection, and to consider how things have changed in those 14 years.
In all honesty nothing has changed, the numbers of families facing this living bereavement goes on increasing. Visits to government and meeting a variety of ministers, holding debates has done nothing to improve the situation.
Court never was or will be the place to resolve the issues involved in family breakdowns, we are all too aware of what can happen when a breakdown goes wrong, we need to help and support those going through family problems, to stop the issues of unjustified estrangement before it starts. Agencies coming together to work towards a positive outcome for the children, putting their well-being and welfare at the forefront of all decisions.
The same applies to the ‘Grandparents Rights’ call.
This is not about the rights of adults but about the responsibility we all have to ensure children are put first.
For fear of repeating myself, which I am, there are many reasons that Grandparents Rights, wont happen.
Perhaps someone would like to tell me how exactly rights for grandparents would work?
Let’s just think, if tomorrow the government announced there would be rights for grandparents to see their grandchildren.
Would you contact those who are denying you contact and say,’ I am allowed to see my grandchildren now.’
Would they say, ‘Of course you can.’
Even more importantly what would it do to the grandchildren?
You may have been apart for several years, you couldn’t just suddenly demand ‘your’ rights.
I have always been of the opinion that, we have to look at a society and cultural change, a change in attitude to family life, to reinstate the importance of all family members and to once again value family life, to the next generation and beyond. A responsibility not a right.
All too often a frenzy of activity rises up, a call to arms, false hope is given to people who are at their lowest ebb, false hope given by those who should know better.
I now question emails and calls from people who say they want to support BGSG, which I get on a daily basis, I find myself asking what does this person want to gain out of their ‘allegiance’ with us, and all too often, they are actually only interested if it shines a light on themselves, or promotes themselves in some way.
A headline, as we know becomes tomorrows fish and chip paper.
The hurt and pain for those personally affected, is real, that continues.