Hi everyone and welcome to Bristol Grandparents Support Group blog. Although we are Bristol based we have grandparents from all over the UK and beyond as members.

It is estimated that over one million children in the UK are denied contact with their grandparents due to family breakdown which may have been caused by divorce/separation, alcohol/drug dependency,domestic violence,bereavement or family feud.
Every child has the right to have contact with their grandparents
if they wish and unless proven unsafe for them to do so. To deny contact from a parent or grandparent has to become as socially unacceptable as drink driving.
I hope to keep you up to date with what is going on in BGSG and I shall continue to campaign for the rights of children to have a loving and meaningful relationship with both parents and their extended family. So please join in as good to hear your views, not just mine!
I also will support via Skype.
There is no membership fee to be part of Bristol Grandparents Support Group.
Esther Rantzen says, " To every grandparent, links of love can never be broken in our hearts."

Please contact during office hours.

Wednesday 5 February 2014

Raw emotion from heartbroken grandparents.

Last week Marc and I travelled up to London for a meeting with Esther Rantzen.
It all started when I wrote to her to ask if she would like to write a message for our Tree of Hope at Christmas time, which she did.
I later wrote to thank her for taking the time to write such a thoughtful message, I explained in a bit more depth about us and said if she ever wanted to discuss the issue facing grandparents denied contact I would be delighted.
That same day I was sent several dates that she would be available, and yes she would like to hear more.
To say I was astonished doesn't even begin to cover how I felt!
So off we went, I don't know what I was expecting, I just knew that Esther cared, and that was all that mattered.
We met at The Silver Line office in central London, Silver Line is the support helpline that she recently became involved in.
The first thing that i was aware of was that she was not as tall as I thought she would be!
She came down to reception to meet us, a smile was all it took and we were both put at ease.
You are instantly aware that here is a lady who gets things done, nothing is a problem just a challenge.
She gave of her time so generously, she shared her experiences in being the founder of Childline and her wealth of knowledge of running a charity.
Esther is also a grandmother, her grandson is 18months old, it is clear of the utter unconditional love she feels for him, she said that it was a shock to her when he was born her total all encompassing love towards him.
We spent time sharing photos of our grandchildren, just like grandparents do, over a cuppa!
The day before we went to London, Esther rang us to say that she was going to be doing some items in conjunction with The One Show and that after our meeting, the producer would be joining us.
Esther and the producer talked to us about what they were keen to do and would we be willing to be part of that. Esther said that she would like to come to Bristol to film and to meet other grandparents in our group.
As a result of that, this week has been busy with conversations with the director of the film, gathering grandparents together, those willing to be filmed, making sure everything is in place to make people feel comfortable.
The day started with Marc suggesting we go down to our local cafe for breakfast, as he thought we probably would have no time for eating for the rest of the day. He was right.
We spent an hour in relative calm and quiet, just contemplating the day to come. To focus on why we were putting ourselves through this.
The reason of course, our granddaughter and the million other grandchildren who are unable to have a relationship with their grandparents, so we had to get this right for them.
Esther and Paul the director and Simon the sound man arrived at about lunchtime.
If you have never witnessed the process of what goes on behind the films that we watch everyday, it is quite daunting.
Your house suddenly becomes a film set.
The director went out into the garden to find various places we could film, not that easy as so wet and muddy, but we were so lucky to have a dry day, something that has been rare down here in the South.
Eventually we were as it were, sitting comfortably and the cameras started.
Esther started by asking us how we felt when we first saw our granddaughter, moving on to how it feels to be estranged from her.
However often you do interviews, it is always very difficult to say what you want to say and trying to keep your composure, I always have a plan but it always goes right out the window and the emotion of it all takes over. Marc and I tend to hold each others hands very tight.
Having done some filming inside we then did some outside in the Summer House.
We moved on then to get ready for other grandparents, soon they were all here kettle on the boil, tea made and Esther handing round cake!
As with us Esther very quickly put people at ease and started gently asking them about their feelings and their hopes for the future.
Normally when we have grandparents meetings, they are light hearted, informal and quiet sharing of feelings in small groups.
This was different and people willingly bared their souls, displayed raw emotion of total heartbreak. I can honestly say it was one of the most moving things I have seen for a very long time. Esther was in tears herself, and said, " there is so much pain in this room."
Several hours later, it was all over.
We waved Esther, Paul and Simon off, taking with them precious footage, footage that took enormous courage for people to share with 4 to 5 million viewers of The One Show. I believe that the footage is in safe hands and as I write is beginning its journey of empathetic editing.
My hopes for the film?
If one person who is alienating children from a parent or grandparent thinks about their children first and the enormous damage it does, and maybe does something about it, it will all have been worthwhile.
Lastly, I would like to thank everyone who gave up their time and their feelings, and a huge thank you to Esther for her support and sensitivity to the subject, and to Paul Wells, Director and Simon for their genuine concern and thoughtfulness.


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