On Tuesday morning many grandparents made their way to London, to Parliament to attend a lobbying day that had been organised by Lorraine Bushell and sponsored by her MP Matthew Offord.
There were several speakers including Dame Esther Rantzen and lawyer Vanessa Platt.
13:00 Welcome and Introduction -Lorraine Bushell
13:10 Chair welcome and grand parenting insights-Lyn Chesterman OBE
13:25 Parliamentary viewpoint- Matthew Offord MP
13:35 The importance of grandparents in grandchildren’s lives – Dame Esther Rantzen
13:55 Legal perspectives for grandparents in maintaining an ongoing relationship with grandchildren- Vanessa Lloyd Platt
14:15 Can religious leaders help in supporting grandparents/grandchildren ongoing relationships? – Rabbi David Mason
14:30 Summary of discussions and Q&A.- Lyn Chesterman
14:50 Thanks and meeting close – Lyn Chesterman
15:00 Meeting end.
The object was to try to push for the need for grandparents to have to apply for ‘leave’ when applying for a Child Arrangement Order to be removed. Matthew, I think surprised many when he said that he would like to see this included in a future Manifesto and that there were several MPs who were concerned about this, and hopefully they will set up a committee to discuss it further.
Dame Esther talked about the importance of the grandchild, grandparent relationship. She shared the results of the survey we had after the features on The One Show we did. Listening once again to them was very moving. The responses that she and I had made very difficult reading.
Vanessa Lloyd Platt talked about the legal perspective.
Rabbi David Mason spoke about how religious leaders should work together in supporting families that were going through estrangement.
There was a little time for general discussion, I felt that there were many people who wanted to speak and to share their experiences but didn’t have the opportunity.
For me, I came away thinking that this is just the beginning and that we need to keep the momentum up and to hold the MP’s to account.
I also don’t believe the legal route is the way.
My real wish would be that everyone who is involved in one way or another could come together and be that voice for the grandchildren. People who have experienced estrangement, so are indeed the experts, not people who are actually working in the sector and just doing it because it is their job.
People who don’t have hidden agendas in any way.