It has been almost 11 years since I founded Bristol Grandparents Support Group when we found ourselves estranged/alienated from our granddaughter.
I had never heard about this sort of thing happening and if I am honest for a while I went to pieces, not only had we apparently lost a beautiful little girl who we loved dearly but our son was going through the most dreadful of situations, where a child says they no longer want you in their lives. As a Mum to watch my son being destroyed in front of my eyes was unbearable.
As time past I realised that I was not helping anyone by going down the dark spiral of depression, I still had family members who needed me, who loved me and more importantly who were suffering just as much as I was.
I had to turn this negative into a positive.
What had happened had happened there was absolutely nothing I could do about it, so what could I do?
I soon found out what an enormous social tragedy being denied contact was.
There were groups and organisations who were banging on about Grandparents Rights, which made me feel really uncomfortable.
After all here was my son and hundreds of thousands, now millions, of non resident parents who were being prevented from having a relationship with their own children, so how on earth could grandparents think they should have rights, over and above parents?
From that day on, I made a conscious effort NOT to use the Grandparents Rights phrase.
Bristol Grandparents Support Group (BGSG) was not founded with Grandparents Rights at its heart.
It always was about the rights of the grandchildren.
It continues to be a hard slog to try and change the mindset of many grandparents, who do believe they have a right. For those grandparents BGSG maybe not be the place they are looking for.
BGSG, is for grandparents who are looking for support and who are wanting to support others who find themselves in this horrible position.
We never advise anyone to go down the legal route, for a variety of reasons. It can be extremely expensive, some grandparents use their entire life savings on going to court, it is very stressful and there are no guarantees. Even if a Child Arrangement Order is granted, if the resident parent decides not to turn up at the agreed time and place you are back to square one and back to court. It is rare that a breached order has a consequence.
I have supported 4,000 grandparents in 11 years and I know how they can suffer through the court process, they have false allegations made against them and the most dreadful things said about them. Some feel suicidal as a result.
I don’t want anyone to feel that way.
The fundamental ethos of BGSG, has not changed, we are here to support, to listen and to show grandparents that they are not alone.