Tuesday, 27 December 2011
How to set up a support group.
I am often asked how to begin the process of setting up a support group.
It definitely helps if you have experienced denied contact, but is not absolutely necessary.
There are a few things to think about:
• How to publicize the event?
• How many people?
• Where to hold it?
• Timings, during the day or evening?
• Aims of group?
It doesn’t necessarily happen quickly, I tried for ages to no avail and was getting somewhat despondent. As there are over one million children denied contact with their grandparents in the UK, I knew they were out there some here.
So I gave it one last go, wrote to my local paper,again, I had written several times before, but with the headline, “Tea and Cake for the Grandchildren,” and gave a date time and place and amazingly grandparents appeared out of the woodwork.
Cake did it!
We have been meeting every two months since.
I wrote to all my local mags, which we get posted through my letter box monthly, I wrote my own posters, put them in the library and post offices etc.
I contacted local radio and TV, both have done interviews with us.
I have a Christmas tree every year in my front garden that grandparents come and write messages to their grandchildren, by Christmas eve it is full, usually local media come and do a piece on it.
The group is well known now and grandparents contact me daily, having been given our contact number through C.A.B, family lawyers,help and support databases and via our website. It seems to have gained its own momentum.
There is no membership fee to be part of the group. So if you need funding you need to start writing to organisations who fund local groups, local neighbourhood partnerships, local funding foundations etc. You only need to do this if you are incurring costs of course. My husband and I covered costs for the first few years but then realised that if we wanted to have proper leaflets, posters etc then we couldn’t continue doing that so needed to find funding from somewhere.
I admit that it does take time and effort to do this, you need to have a charity constitution, trustees and treasurer, sounds daunting, but it isn’t, if I can do it anyone can. You only have to be a registered charity if your income is going to be over a certain amount.
My local MP also is a great supporter of the group, so write to your MP.
I write constantly to David Cameron,MP’s, media of all shapes and sizes, to keep the issue of denied contact out there.
I decided to alternate the meetings, so one month its Friday afternoon and then Saturday evening, to try and help grandparents who are working during the day.
I did hire a room at one stage but we found it felt a bit impersonal so we now meet at my house, you never know from one month to another how many will turn up, but we manage to squeeze people in, and no I don’t have a big house, a normal semi-detached. Surprising how many people you can get in, by moving furniture about, a bit!
My husband is here as well, so we get grandads coming too.
The meeting it self runs itself really, everyone has tea/coffee and CAKE, I just welcome anyone new, which there always is, tell everyone what has been going on the last 2 months, press releases,new reports, etc and then its over to everyone else. Once someone starts talking, they are off, and it just happens.
Help, advice and support.
Every meeting I have ever had always finishes with grandparents laughing and joking with on another.
We are all here for one reason and one reason only, our grandchildren.
If you want to talk it through get intouch.