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 29 September 2010


Yesterday I did some filming for ITV Daybreak programme re denied contact, it should be aired on Friday morning.

Sunday 26 September 2010

Why join a support group?

I asked people what motivates them to come to non contact support groups and these are some of the replies.
 DESPAIR!! The support is an added bonus. My reason is to try to find some common sense in what is happening to us all - not just legally but in the horrifying way in which this next generation is callously sweeping away history and the reasons and means by which civilization itself has evolved and survived. I am also very angry that we are not being allowed to partake in enjoy the fruits of our labours and even sacrifices.
I attend the Support group because I am with people who have similar experiences and I have no family in or near Bristol with whom I can discuss how I feel. I also get a great deal of information at the Bristol Grandparents' Support group.
 I want to be able to share my story.
 I want to know I am not on my own.
I can phone Jane and talk when I feel low.
 Its good to know that it is not my fault.
 My experience might be able to help someone else.
 It keeps me up to date with any progress.
 I don't have to hide what has happened, my friends don't understand and they get fed up with me talking about it.


New logo

This is the new logo for The Bristol Support Group.

Saturday 25 September 2010

Our Story.

I can vividly remember the day my son rang me at work to tell me his little girl, my Granddaughter, had been born, he was overcome with emotion and wonder and I cried!

It is difficult to explain in words what happened to me that day. What an enormous responsibility to be a Grandparent, what delight and fun we would have together.

Goodness, did that mean I would have to start behaving in a different way, and be more sensible? No I didn’t think that would be necessary!
My son and his wife lived in the North and we were in the South, so not a quick trip to see this very special little girl, but we packed the car with lots of spoils for her and set off.

When we arrived and I first set eyes on this beautiful bundle of innocence I was captivated, holding her in my arms was the proudest moment of my life, the future looking up at me, full of expectation.

The future was not as I had imagined at all.

My son and daughter-in-law had been married for a couple of years when the cracks began to show. During this time my Granddaughter came down to Bristol for visits ,where we had the most wonderful times, doing all the things that she loved to do, mostly messy stuff, involving paint, glue and sparkly bits, most of which seemed to be on the floor! I would be still cleaning bits up months later. I was determined to give her the most precious thing I had to give, my time.
I was in no hurry to do anything whilst she was with us, boring things like cleaning and ironing could be done later.
I recall one Easter in particular, I had made signs with a picture of the Easter bunny on and Marc and I put them all over the garden, with directions on how to find the Easter eggs. She was shrieking with delight in the garden, carefully following her instructions.
Finally she was found in our summer house at the bottom of the garden, trying to make that difficult decision as to which one to eat first.

It became clear that my son and daughter-in-law were going to separate.
My son decided to move into a small flat, not far from their house so that he could keep in contact with his daughter, he was miserable and very lonely, and phoned us regularly in a distressed state, things were just becoming intolerable for him. He made the heartbreaking decision to come back down to Bristol .

 At first our granddaughter made regular visits but they became less and less and communication finally broke down all together .

The last time we saw her was in 2007, and when we asked her whether she liked her birthday and Christmas presents she didn’t know what we were talking about when we described what they were she had been told they were from someone else. The letters I wrote either were returned or she just wasn’t given them .

She said that she had been told to dump her family in Bristol.
My son has had no contact with her either no phone calls, emails nothing. Despite solicitors letters requesting contact .

His ex-wife has now remarried and had another child .

It is impossible for me to describe how it feels to have lost my precious little girl, she was 10 in June, and there is not a single day that goes by that I don’t wonder what she is doing and is she safe and is she happy?
There is a knot in my stomach that just never goes away .
It is the same feeling when you loose someone close to you. A living bereavment.
 Time is ticking away, when my son heard from his ex wife’s’ solicitor that he can’t have any contact as his daughter no longer wants to see him, can you possibly imagine what that is doing to him, and to us .

If he continues his fight, and it is just that a fight, it will be court cases, anxiety for his daughter and it is his daughter that is the most important person in all of this, she needs to be able to live her life without all of this stress and worry .

We all just hang on to the thought that we will be here for her when she wants us, when she is older perhaps she will want to know about her family in Bristol.

A grandparent , in the same situation as ourselves, who I know ,answered her door and there was a handsome young man standing there, he said, ‘Hi Gran, I have missed you.’
So we are waiting for that knock on the door.
Jane Jackson

Thursday 23 September 2010

Reply from Lambeth Palace

Dear Ms Jackson,

Thank you for your message to Lambeth Palace on behalf of the Bristol Grandparents Support Group. The issue you raise about grandparental contact after family breakdown is an ongoing concern, given the immense potential relationships with their grandparents have in children’s lives.

It is very good to hear of the work you are doing in Bristol. I do hope that work continues to provide such valuable support and that ultimately such support becomes less necessary.

Yours sincerely,

Helen Dawes
The Revd. Helen Dawes
The Archbishop of Canterbury's Deputy Secretary for Public Affairs
Lambeth Palace, London, SE1 7JU

Sunday 19 September 2010

Bishop Mike.

Hi Jane,

Thanks for this.  I was encouraged to read that the network is up and running and that the feedback you are getting is heartening.  Keep up the good work!

As ever,


Bishop of Bristol

It Does Happen!

I had a call from one of BGS group to tell me with enormous excitement that she has contacted her grandchildren, and they have had a wonderful reunion.
She is looking forward to being part of their lives again and watching the future grow and blossom.
Never give up hope.

Thursday 9 September 2010

Word of warning

If you are going through a court case with regard to gaining contact with grandchildren, do not write anything on networking sites or other sites that could be used in court.
I understand that pages from these sites are now permissible in court to count against you.

Sunday 5 September 2010

Letters, emails etc

I am trying to collate responses from letters, emails etc, so they are not in date!!!

Response email from Bishop of Bristol-Dec 2008

Dear Jane,

Thank you so much for your letter.

I have just spent the past few days over Christmas with my own lovely
grandchildren and I cannot begin to think what it must be like for you and
many others like you, who, for a variety of reasons are not able to have
contact with your grandchildren.  Yes of course I am supportive of your
overall cause because I am a great believer in family and do not like it
when family breakdown occurs as it so frequently does in our present
In the context of my message in the Cathedral at Midnight Mass I added to
the list of those who would find Christmas a struggle, “the many
grandparents who will not  see their grandchildren, because they are
refused access by their parents.”
I think you may have a fighting chance of getting a support group off the
ground, though I doubt in the current climate that a change in Family Law
is tenable because of the governments proper pre-occupation with
protecting children from harmful adults.  
I would suggest therefore, as your letter implies, that the creation of a
support group is your best contribution at the present time.  Possibly the
bigger vision is an investment in helping families in breakdown to get
help in getting back together, rather than a change in the law which I
think would not be a tenable vision in today’s world.
You and those who find themselves in your predicament have been on my mind
this Christmas.  I do sincerely hope that despite your situation you
managed to find some enjoyment this Christmas.

As ever,


David Cameron Reply

Dear Mrs Jackson, I am writing on behalf of David Cameron to thank you for your e-mail. I am sorry for the delay in my reply. David is grateful to you for raising this important issue with him, and he understands the sadness and frustration which many children and grandparents feel because of separation. We believe that the family is the most important institution in Britain, and that we must look into ways of supporting families and encouraging marriage if we are serious about tackling the causes of poverty and social breakdown. While we would like to see more parents stay together, we do understand that there are times when sadly the separation of parents is the only course of action available. In these circumstances, it is very important for children to enjoy stable relationships with members of their extended family. David very much agrees with you that it is in the interests of children to be able to have contact with their grandparents, and has said publicly that grandparents should continue to have access to grandchildren when families break up unless there is a good reason to the contrary. Many children benefit enormously from the care, support, and attention of their grandparents. We would like to see these opportunities extended to more children whose parents live apart. Following on from the UNICEF report in 2007 which showed that British children were the unhappiest in the Western world, David Cameron commissioned David Willetts to look into the problems of modern childhood as part of the Childhood Review. The Review emphasised the importance of the extended family for children’s well-being and called for the law to be changed so that Courts must take into consideration the desirability of contact between the child and their extended family. The Shadow Cabinet is examining closely the recommendation the Childhood Review about grandparents’ access to children from broken families. Thank you, once again, for writing to David Cameron and outlining your concerns on this important issue. Yours sincerely, Lara Moreno Perez Office of the Leader of the Opposition House of Commons London SW1A 0AA

Letter reply

Dear Ms Jackson Thank you for your email dated 18 September, sent to Jim Knight, Regional Minister for the South West. As you will appreciate the Minister receives a great deal of correspondence and is unable to respond to them all personally. Your email has been forwarded to the Department of Children, Schools and Families (DCSF), and I have been asked to reply. I want to begin by explaining that the Children Act 1989 (the Act), which provides the legislative framework in this area of law, does not define a legal relationship between grandparents and grandchildren. The Act focuses on the needs of the child rather than the rights of parents, grandparents or other relatives. The Government recognises and values the important role which grandparents can play in children’s lives. Many grandparents are already involved with the care of their grandchildren and most children see their grandparents as important figures in their lives. However, the primary responsibility for bringing up children in most families lies with their parents and there may be cases where parents prefer to limit contact with grandparents. Under the Act grandparents may, provided that the permission of the court is obtained, apply to the court for an order granting contact with the child concerned. The requirement for the court’s permission is not designed to be an obstacle to grandparents or other close relatives but to act as an initial filter to sift out prejudiced applications that are unlikely to succeed. Experience suggests that grandparents (or other interested relatives) would not usually experience difficulty in obtaining permission where their application is motivated by a genuine concern for the child. I am aware though that there are concerns, which a number of MPs have written to the Department about, that grandparents who are denied contact with their grandchildren are unable to seek adequate redress through the courts. This issue was raised during debates on the Bill stages of the Children and Adoption Act 2006 and a review was announced of the requirement in private law cases that leave of the court must first be sought before applying for contact, where it relates to grandparents. We want to assess if it is the case that the leave requirement acts as a barrier to grandparents denied contact and if they are unable to seek redress through the courts. We consulted on this issue in 2007. Responses were received from the President of the Family Division, the Family Law Bar Association (FLBA), National Youth Advocacy Service (NYAS), the British Association for Adoption and Fostering (BAAF), the Grandparents Action Group and the Coalition for Equal Parenting. Responses showed that there is no widespread support for a change to the law that would remove the requirement for leave of the court to be sought by grandparents before making an application for contact. Of course, while grandparents may seek the leave of the court to apply for contact, it is usually a more fruitful route for parents and grandparents to work cooperatively to ensure that children have ongoing contact where it is in their best interests. To support this we published a revised edition of the Parenting Plan which highlights a range of issues parents and relatives may wish to consider in reaching agreement about contact arrangements. The Plans also provide a range of case studies giving examples of how others have reached agreement as well as a comprehensive list of support and advice agencies where parents and relatives can, if necessary, turn for advice. I hope this clarifies that the law is not aiming to discriminate against grandparents; rather it is ensuring a focus is maintained on the best interests of the child. Yours sincerely Pamela Kearns Public Communications Unitwww.dcsf.gov.uk

Nick Clegg

Dear Mrs Jackson Thank you very much for the message you sent to us via Nick’s website. Nick receives a great deal of correspondence every day and so I hope you will understand that he is unable to reply to every email personally. He has asked me to reply to you on his behalf and to express his sympathy with the difficulties you are having in seeing your grandchild. Liberal Democrats believe that family stability is an important factor in the secure upbringing of children, and that it can promote the health, well-being and creative development of Britain’s children. That is why we are deeply concerned when we hear stories like yours about relationships breaking down and the aftermath this can have in terms of children being denied access to their family. We are grateful for you taking the time to write to us and for sharing with us your personal story about the impact of the lack of grandparents’ rights. It means that we are able to take this into consideration when developing our family policies in the future. Thank you once again for writing in, and we hope that you are able to resolve your family disputes and resume contact with your grandchild. Best wishes Anna Brown Correspondence Manager Office of Nick Clegg MP

Getting ready for Christmas? Article.

GRANDMOTHER Jane Jackson is wrapping her Christmas presents. It's a scene
being repeated  in households across the land as the countdown to the
festive season begins in earnest.

No surprise, either, to discover the gift is one destined for her

There is one significant difference, however, which sets Jane Jackson
aside from the majority of doting grandmothers.

Jane, you see, will send off her present aware of the heartbreaking
reality she will not hear from her grand-daughter.

No acknowledgement, no Christmas card, no contact.

Why? Because the relationship which once existed between the girl's
mother, her former daughter-in-law, has disintegrated.

So Jane Jackson is left to yearn for the little girl who was once so much
a part of her life.

Jane has been married to husband Marc for 36 years and home is a
comfortable semi-detached in Henleaze, Bristol. It's the house Jane was
born in and both her sons were, too.

It's her oldest son, now 31, who is pivotal to the heart-rending story
which unfolds as we talk.

"He was married in the north-east of England. They had been married about
three years but the relationship was breaking up," says Jane.

By then, though, the couple had a daughter. She is now eight years old.

"My son was working up there and moved into a very small bedsit to be near
his daughter. The daughter and her mum stayed in the  house they had

"It became very clear he needed to be back down here because of the stress
of the situation, so he came.

"At that time he had very regular contact with his daughter. When he moved
back to Bristol, as he doesn't drive, travel was a big issue.

"But his daughter used to come down and stay, partly with him, partly with

"His ex-wife had another partner quite soon after the marriage break-up
and it became clear to us that, while our grand-daughter was with us, that
she was having a drip-feed or alienation of her family down here.

"The last time we actually saw her (19 months ago) she said she had been
told to 'Dump her family in Bristol.' She said she did not want to do that
because she loved us."

Jane stresses that in all the time since the marriage failed her son has
never stopped paying maintenance for his daughter, But the situation up in
the north of England was changing. The little girl's mum had another baby.

There was some friction, too, when Jane, worried about the
grand-daughter's hearing problems, contacted the child's school. They, in
turn, told the former daughter-in-law about Jane's telephone call.

This appears to have been the catalyst which has caused Jane so much

For, in Easter 2007, she would see her beloved grand-daughter for the
final occasion.

"There was no hint that it was going to be the last time," she says.

"I cannot possibly describe the devastation it causes because being a
grandparents is the proudest moment in everyone's life.

"We had such fun together and it has all been snatched away."

of course, Jane Jackson has not let things just lie there like that.

"We have taken solicitor's advice about it. They said we could apply for a
custodial order but it is extremely costly and if the mother should decide
she is not going to comply,  the courts, on the whole, do not follow it
up. It's very rare that they do so."

The upshot is that Jane, undaunted, continues to send her grand-daughter
letters and cards and presents. They come back as returned mail.

"I just know she has not seen them and we know she never got her previous
Christmas or birthday presents."

Her experience reinforces her belief that the time is ripe for a new
Charter for Grandparents.

On the day we met she had written to Prince Charles. She's already penned
letters on the same subject to every MP and Prime Minister Gordon Brown is
going to get a Jane Jackson missive, too.

"My plan is to set up a support group for grandparents like me in
Bristol," she explains, revealing that, currently in Britain, an
astonishing one million children are denied any contact with grandparents.

"I find that figure obscene."

Jane Jackson says she knows that there are circumstances where some
grandparents do undermine the parental role, "So there are cases where
that is an issue. However, I have had so many e-mails of support for my
cause over the last few days. One was from a 79 year old lady who has not
seen her grandson for seven years and  thinks she will die without being
in contact.
We need to follow France, where it is enshrined in law that children continue a relationship with their grandparents after a separation/divorce."

For now, though, Jane Jackson is thinking of Christmas and the heartache
her grand-daughter's absence will have on her life. The little girl's
father, she says is totally heartbroken. He has taken the decision not to
pursue things through the courts, lest it turns out to be damaging for his

Jane Jackson, though, is battling on."I have just bought her Christmas present.While my son has set up a website in her name and there are messages on it which we hope, one day,she will find."

There's also the little matter of this year's Christmas tree.

Every year we have a Christmas tree in our garden for grandparents to write messages to their grandchildren, you can email Jane with your messages.

*IF you are interested in Jane Jackson's campaign to establish a local
support group for grandparents in a similar situation to hers then contact