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.

Tuesday 29 November 2011

Response on non-residents access to info in schools.

If any non-resident parent is experiencing problems with schools this might be helpful.

Dear Mrs Jackson

Thank you for your email of 22 November requesting clarification about non-resident parents' rights to access information about their child’s progress from their school.

Schools are required by law to ensure that records are kept about each child's progress and achievements. This information is reported to parents, at least annually, through the head teacher's report. The report should include: achievements in all curricular subjects and activities, comments on general progress, examination results, vocational qualifications gained and curricular tests undertaken, assessment information for those children with SEN, attendance, and arrangements for discussing the report with the child’s teacher.

I can confirm that schools must, wherever possible, ensure that they record the contact details of all parents. Education law requires all schools to take reasonable steps to ensure that they report annually to all parents, not just the parent with whom the child lives, on their child’s progress. It also requires them to provide, where requested, access to information recorded on their child’s school records within fifteen days of that request.

Outside of legal obligations, schools usually ensure that all parents known to them have more frequent information about the school and opportunities to contribute to key decisions relating to their child’s education. This includes attending parents’ evenings and discussing any concerns with their teacher. Where separated parents do not agree, however, for example in discussions about how their child’s education takes place, schools must be able to exercise discretion and make judgements based on the circumstances known to them.

Parents should contact the school their child attends and ensure that they record their details as a parent. The school may want proof of identity and relationship with the child. They should then have the opportunity to record how the parent would like to be kept updated on their child's progress.

I hope this information is helpful.

Yours sincerely

Ruth Neale
Public Communications Unit

As part of our commitment to improving the service we provide to our customers, we are interested in hearing your views and would welcome your comments via our website at www.education.gov.uk/pcusurvey

Your correspondence has been allocated the reference number 2011/0078521. To contact the Department for Education, please visit www.education.gov.uk/contactus

The original of this email was scanned for viruses by the Government Secure Intranet virus scanning service supplied by Cable&Wireless Worldwide in partnership with MessageLabs. (CCTM Certificate Number 2009/09/0052.) On leaving the GSi this email was certified virus free.
Communications via the GSi may be automatically logged, monitored and/or recorded for legal purposes.

Last Meeting of this year.

The last meeting of Bristol Grandparents Support Group is on Saturday December 3rd at 7pm.
I will have available Christmas Tree labels if you wish to write a message to your grandchildren.
I look forward to seeing you.

Sunday 27 November 2011

Why is writing a letter harassment?

Time and time again grandparents find themselves issued with an harassment order because they have written a letter.
I have tried to get the term 'harassment order' clarified and it seems it is a grey area. One source says..................

If you mean a harassment warning from the police, someone makes an allegation, the police come round and give you a bit of paper which warns you that the behaviour is considered harassment and not to do it again. They do it because harassment requires a course of conduct, so if you do it again after you've been warned it's a course of conduct.
Of course, them warning you about it doesn't necessarily make whatever it is you've apparently done illegal, or even mean it actually happened. It's not a criminal record and it doesn't mean the police have investigated it and believe you've done anything, it just means they've given you a warning not to do something you might never have done anyway.
Although it has no status as a criminal record, it's still an 'official' warning from the police (official in that it's on headed police paper and given out and recorded by the police) not to do something, and obviously it's not right for them to go around officially warning you not to do something you've not done."

So what is a course of conduct?
"Harassment Act 1997 Section 2 - "You commit an offence if you pursue a course of conduct which causes another person harassment, alarm or distress and knew, or ought to have known, that harassment would be caused" (or words to this effect). There is a defence available of "reasonable conduct" (or else banks wouldn't be able to keep sending you upsetting letters when you owe them money!)

This law was drawn up specifically for stalkers but can apply to so much more (nuisance phonecalls, text messages, ongoing threats between neighbours etc)

The important part, is "course of conduct". This means that there must be at least two seperate instances where harassment was caused and the offender knew (or ought to have known) that their behaviour was causing harassment."
As you can see, clear as mud!
Which still doesn't really answer the question, why if you write a letter is it harassment?

Wednesday 23 November 2011

Write your message to your grandchildren for the Christmas Tree.

Once again we will be having a Christmas Tree in our front garden for grandparents to come and write messages to their grandchildren, let me know if you would like a message written for you.

Monday 21 November 2011

Even lawyers are appalled by Family Justice Report.

Thanks to M for alerting me to this blog, very interesting and coming from a lawyer as well!


Family Lives Report-Child Aggression


Family Lives’ updated aggression report* finds calls to its Parentline regarding aggressive behaviour have increased by 2% and only 56% of respondents to an online survey had sought help for their child’s problem.

As part of its ‘Instructions Not Included’ campaign**, Family Lives reveals that a growing number of parents are seriously concerned about their child's aggression and that many are unsure as to why their children display aggressive behaviour. The updated report, ‘When Family Life Hurts: Family Experience of Aggression in Children’ calls for Government to recognise – in addition to early years support - the particular needs of many parents of older children and teenagers.

The updated report shows that:

Between July 2010 and June 2011, of 39,258 calls made to Parentline, 27% of callers were seeking advice from the charity’s helpline regarding their children’s behaviour with parents frequently reporting feelings of desperation, helplessness and shame.

Key Family Lives Aggression Facts and Figures

Statistics from Parentline, Family Lives’ free helpline for families showed that:

· Calls about a child’s physical aggression have risen by 2% and calls about a child’s verbal aggression have risen by 4%

· 42.9% of calls about behaviour related to children aged 13-15 years

· Parents calling about their child’s aggression were 30.3% more likely to suffer from stress than other callers, and 8.3% more likely to be suffering with anger

· Children are more likely to suffer from identified or unidentified depression if they have behavioural concerns compared to other issues raised in long calls***. They are more likely to self-harm, feel suicidal and suffer from hyperactivity and feelings of isolation

· Compared to June 09 - June 10 statistics, child stress, confusion, isolation and anger have increased by an average of 5.3% where a child is being verbally aggressive and by 5.4% in calls where a child is physically aggressive

· Children who are physically aggressive were significantly more likely to be using drugs -(10.1% compared to 3.2% of all calls) and to be in with a bad crowd - 10.9% compared to 3.4% of all calls.

Jeremy Todd, Chief Executive, Family Lives says: “Family Lives’ updated report highlights that children’s violent and aggressive behaviour in the home is a hidden and stigmatised issue and we must all continue to support families to help change their child’s behaviour and ultimately improve life chances. There are many reasons that can explain why children behave in an aggressive way at home. Answers commonly include an inadequate approach to parenting, a lack of respect, sudden and unpredictable changes to the family routine, parental domestic violence or bullying at school, which causes the anger and hurt to spill out at home. Children or young people often feel that home is a safe place to vent ones feelings. Divorce and separation is considered to play its part in displays of aggressive child behaviour if co-parenting strategies are not discussed, agreed and implemented. Children can end up playing one parent off against another, or the non-resident parent may end up taking a back-seat with regards to discipline as they spend less time with the child. Whatever the reasons, children, parents, families and ultimately society will pay a huge cost if this growing area of concern is not addressed and parents must feel able to come forward to seek support without worrying about being judged.”

Family Lives asked respondents via a recent online web survey why they felt that their child behaved aggressively, what they felt influenced that behaviour and why they felt it was worse in the home. Large numbers identified their children’s friends, or other members of the family as influences on their child’s aggressive behaviour, but a significant number (38.8%) were unsure, expressing their frustration with comments such as “That’s the $10,000 question”.

Parents talked about bullying, domestic violence, disabilities and mental health problems as triggers for the aggressive behaviour and identified inconsistent parenting and divorce and separation as other contributing factors.

Seeking help

Family Lives’ most recent online survey found that only 56% of parents had sought help for their child’s aggressive behaviour. This figure remained consistent with the findings from our 2010 survey, showing that families are still trying to cope alone with difficult behaviour. An alarming 35% had not sought help because they did not know where to go to find that help, and a further 11% did not seek help because of they felt there was stigma attached to it. Despite the impact on their family life, 20% of families did not seek help for fear of damaging their child’s life chances and instead suffered in silence trying to manage the behaviour themselves.

Family Lives Recommendations

The Charity is calling for the Coalition Government:

· To ensure in its response to the Family Justice Review that Parents receive the support they need to meet their child’s needs during separation as early as possible in the process. Divorce and separation has been identified by a number of families responding to our online survey as a trigger for their child's aggressive behaviour.

· To ensure that in focussing support on the early years, they do not lose sight of the problems of older and teenager children, further stigmatising the seeking of support for families experiencing difficulties with children in this age bracket.

· To commit to looking for sustainable ways to better integrate family support services with universal services.

To review the report visit http://fmly.me/wordshurtreport

Parents concerned about verbal or physical abuse from their children can call Family Lives’ free and confidential helpline, Parentline, on 0808 800 2222, or email parentsupport@familylives.org.uk for a personalised reply within 3 days.


'Gran was the backbone of the family'

When we lose special people in our lives it has a profound effect, a very good friend of mine today lost his Gran, and in his utter sadness he said that she was 'the backbone of the family.'
What better tribute can you have as a grandparent?
Thoughts with him and his family.x

Friday 18 November 2011

Fathers just need to go to court to see his children!!

That is what was said to me last night, and not for the first time, it makes me so angry that the reality of non-resident parents is still not getting out there.
It is such important issue and apart from the occasional headline of tabloid press, the public still have no idea at all of the situation and what goes on, in Family Courts and with ex partners. People of course don't know what goes on in The Family Courts because it's secret.
So here it is, again as plain as I can say.
There are thousands of non resident parents in the UK who are not having any contact at all with their children, because their ex's say so.
Yes fathers have a right to see their children, but it is not as simple as that.
If a couple part, and their is conflict and contact is denied, the non-resident parent has to go to court to apply for contact. Firstly why on earth, should you have to go to court to see your own children?
It can cost thousands and thousands, £20-£30..... and then if a contact agreement is made, it is still down to the ex if they turn up at agreed time and place, if not back to court.
Yes, the resident parent may well be breaking the law, but there are few if any consequences as it is detrimental to the children.
Is it not detrimental to the children in the fact that they are being kept from seeing both parents?
In the mean time in the months that this is all going on, what is the effect on the children? What is being said to the children about the non-resident parent?
So, some fathers after much heart-searching decide for the sake of the children to back off.
It is the hardest sacrifice of all.

Wednesday 16 November 2011

Grandparents providing child care.



To court or no to court?

I am often asked why we decided not to go to court when we were denied contact with our granddaughter.
It was not a decision we took lightly in fact one of the hardest decisions we have ever made.
It was all about what was the best thing for her at that time in her life. She had to live the life she was living and if we started going to court and all that, that entailed it would have made life more difficult for her, we wanted her to be able to get on with her life without us causing her anymore difficulties.
I often ask myself the question, "Does she think we don't love her anymore?"
If she ever reads this or her blog, I hope that she will understand we all love her so much and not a day goes by that we don't all think of her.
We are all still here if or when she wants us.
She will always be our first and eldest granddaughter.


Sunday 13 November 2011

Dates for next years meetings.

Please not that ALL meetings will be on a Friday afternoon, having tried this year with alternating between a Friday afternoon and Saturday evening, (as asked to by a few members,) in all honesty those who asked did not actually attend on the Saturday evenings, so we are going to revert to original day. It is very difficult to suit everyone. Also for your information April meeting will be incorporate the AGM.

Dates for Meetings 2012.

Friday Feb 3rd 2pm

Friday April 6th 2pm ( AGM)

Friday June 1st 2pm

Friday August 3rd 2pm

Friday October 5th 2pm

Friday December 7th 2pm.


Friday 11 November 2011

When will Family Justice Report be implemented?

I have been asked by grandparents now that the final report has been published how long will it be before it is law?
Well, as I have said previously, this report is 'recommendations,' so it goes to government and they will write responses, and it is possible that it will be published in the New Year. That is when they will decide as to whether they agree with the recommendations or to drop parts or add parts.
Any legislation would have to be in draft form, debated and then move through the appropriate stages in Parliament.
It is anyones guess how long this will all take, but we are talking about a couple of years, I would think, before it will take effect.
With everything being in such turmoil, economically etc, it will depend on time allowed in Parliament and how far up the agenda of importance the report is deemed to be.


Would you be prepared to be interviewed?

I have had a request from Radio 4 for grandparents who are prepared to be interviewed for a possible forthcoming programme.
It is at the research stage.
Please contact me if you are interested, my understanding is that they are looking to speak to grandparents who have been denied contact after a family breakup.
More details when I have them.

Thursday 10 November 2011

Soldier gets contact.

With all the doom and gloom everywhere, some great news.
TC, soldier who went to Afghanistan unable to see his daughter, went to court today and he has got contact.

Saturday 5 November 2011

Template letter to MP

If you are unhappy with the family Justice Report, I would urge you to write/email your MP, these are recommendations, as yet not law.

Here is a template letter/email for you to use. Personalise it by adding your own story and name,your constituency etc.


I am writing to you to register my profound disappointment and disgust at the recommendations made in the final report of the Family Justice Review.

The final report rejected not only a presumption of shared parenting following family breakdown in law, but also a statement to recognise the importance of the role of both parents in a child’s life. The report also failed to provide recommendations for strengthening the child’s right to contact with grandparents and the wider family.

It is stated in the report that the answer to improving outcomes for children in private family law is to ‘make parental responsibility work’. Parental responsibility was formally defined in the Children Act 1989; if parental responsibility alone were the answer, we would have seen improved outcomes for children over the past 20 years. Sadly, we see only ever increasing numbers of children becoming estranged from their parents through no fault of their own, to the detriment of their psychological, emotional and social wellbeing.

The family justice system is not in a state of crisis because people are unaware of the meaning of parental responsibility; instead, the problem is that it is all too easy for one parent to simply ignore this and omit the other from their child’s life, with a system which is unable and unwilling to take firm action to prevent it. Only a rebuttal presumption of shared parenting in law, where no risks to the child's welfare have been identified, will be enough to ensure that justice is served for children caught up in these most intractable cases.

The UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, to which Britain is a signatory, guarantees a child’s right to maintain a meaningful relationship with both parents following separation or divorce, where to do so would not put the child at undue risk. It should be a source of shame for all of us that our current family law system produces outcomes so diametrically opposed to this simple, yet laudable, aim. That the Family Justice Review has decided to sidestep this issue is an opportunity lost, and one which risks betraying a new generation of children.

The Family Justice Review does of course only provide recommendations; not law. I therefore urge you in your capacity as Member for CONSTITUENCY to make representations to the Secretary of State for Justice The Rt. Hon. Kenneth Clarke MP and Parliamentary Under Secretary for Children and Families Tim Loughton MP, and request that any legislation proposed on family law will ensure that a child’s right to a meaningful relationship with both parents and their wider family following divorce and separation are respected and supported.

I keenly anticipate your reply.

Yours faithfully,
Your Name

(Thanks to SteveGr)

Family Justice Final Review.

Apologies for not commenting earlier on the Family Justice Review Final Report, but have been attending a family funeral.
I have had grandparents leaving me messages upset by what they are hearing.
I have read the report and actually can't see that it is significantly different from the first draft, no surprises.
Once again the media, have used highly emotive headlines which are not helpful.
The need for grandparents to apply twice to the court remains, I personally don't think it makes a great deal of difference, the need to apply for 'leave' was removed in Scotland and there has been very little change in applicants.
I have always said that that we are talking of a cultural change, which has to start with education. The importance of both parents and the wider family, this will take time.
In one daily newspaper I have just read there is a quote , saying that not all grandparents are good grandparents, I will argue, equally not all parents are good parents, it is a non argument.
here is the link to full report.

Please let me have your comments.

Tuesday 1 November 2011