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.

Saturday 30 November 2013

Tree of Hope- for grandparents, non-resident parents all family members.

Most of you will know that for the last 5 years I have had a Christmas Tree of Hope in our front garden for grandparents to write messages to their grandchildren. Although this started for grandparents who are denied contact it is of course there for anyone to come and write messages of hope. It may be you are a non resident parent who is denied contact with your children, any family member who is not able to see a family member due to family breakdown.
Anyone is welcome to come and add their message, we have children who come every year to write their own very special messages for families who are not seeing children particularly at Christmas time.
If you are not local you can always message me your message and I will add it on your behalf.


Thursday 28 November 2013

Misleading information.

I have just read an article on a well known website about what to do if you are denied contact with your grandchildren, it  has completely wrong information, and is very misleading.
It uses the word 'custody' which is a word that is no longer used as it as it means imprisonment.
Also it says that it is ok for grandparents to have indirect contact if they want to, not as an order, grandparents can phone the grandchildren etc, mind it does say that it might be a good idea to tell the 'parents' that you are going to do it.
This is another corker "Custody is generally granted to the mother, so maternal grandparents end up being the providers of more of the emotional and financial support following the divorce."
Is it any wonder at all, that the public get the wrong idea about family splits, when there is content like this everywhere.
Finally, this -The onus will be on the parents to honour the relationships that matter to the child, meaning that arrangements for contact with grandparents will now have to be part of parenting agreements that are drawn up at the time of divorce - and it's only when these break down that the courts will get involved.-
"have" my understanding is that the importance of grandparents will be stressed, nowhere have I read the word "have".

Incandescent is such a good word to sum up how this sort of rubbish makes me feel.
When a grandparent finds themselves in this heartbreaking situation you try to find answers anywhere you can, and that includes the internet, this sort of thing just gives grandparents false hopes.


Thank You.

I would like to publicly thank those who have sent cheques to Bristol Grandparents Support Group, it costs money to run the group mail costs, phone costs, etc.
Without you it would be very difficult.


Monday 25 November 2013

Helpline for Older people.

You may have seen that a new helpline for older people was launched today, they are also asking for volunteers if you are interested take a look


Sunday 24 November 2013

The stupidity of Family Justice once again .



Grandparents feelings of contempt.

I was reading today some comments  amongst grandparents who are denied contact with their grandchildren and one thing that they all have in  common is the feelings of contempt.
Just reading them made me feel so sad, how on earth can there ever be any form of reconciliation when such apparent hatred for other parties is being banded about.
These particular grandparents were using real names etc, so easily identified, is it because they are unaware that all forms of social media are public.
I have written before about forgiveness ect, and I know that many, many people who are estranged from children/grandchildren say they never will forgive, and I do understand, but and it's a big but, if we all have this hatred in our hearts how can we take our situation forward?
I can only talk personally, but I know that I said things that I shouldn't have so I am to blame as well, I am by no means perfect.
How many of us can honestly take a step back and say, I was totally blameless?
It becomes a defence mechanism to badmouth those that have hurt us deeply, but where will it get us.
By slagging off those who have prevented us from having a loving relationship with our children/grandchildren is not the answer.
That doesn't mean I have the answer , I don't, what I do know is that being constantly angry is pointless and achieves nothing.
Those that have caused such heartbreak are not going to respond to bitter words, in fact they wont even hear them.
You see both sides of the argument believe they are right.
The Internet is a great place to find all sorts of information from all over the world, and for some reason all of a sudden there appears to be groups setting up globally, most shouting loudly about standing firm for their RIGHTS, whose to say anyone has one right over another, I hate the word, it is like some form of one upmanship. "I have one right over and above you."
What I do know however is that it still results in adults inflicting pain on their children/grandchildren by involving them in an adult conflict world that no-one understands.
So maybe think before posting comments on any forms of social media, your children/grandchildren might well be reading them.


Thursday 21 November 2013

How Long Will I Love You.

The lyrics to Ellie Golding's song are just so appropriate for non resident parents and grandparents who are denied contact.

How long will I love you
As long as stars are above you
And longer if I can
How long will I need you
As long as the seasons need to
Follow their plan
How long will I be with you
As long as the sea is bound to
Wash up on the sand
How long will I want you
As long as you want me to
And longer by far
How long will I hold you
As long as your father told you
As long as you can
How long will I give to you
As long as I live through you
However long you say
How long will I love you
As long as stars are above you
And longer if I may
We're all traveling through time together
Every day of our lives
All we can do is do our best
To relish this remarkable ride

Christmas Trees of Hope around the world.

The Tree of Hope that started its life in my Bristol front garden is being replicated all over the UK and USA.
Manchester support group are planning to have one and Austin Texas.
It would be great to have lots of trees all over the world, if you think it is something you would like to do get in touch and I will give you some tips.
Remember that the weather can ruin your messages so use white plastic sheets, the sort used for modelling, cut into squares and use permanent marker pens or pens that write on acetate, punch a hole in one corner and thread coloured ribbon for tying, and tie on tight!
Or if you are sent messages, print them out and laminate them.
Please let me know if you are planning to have one it would be good to see photos as well.


Monday 18 November 2013

Transparency in Family Courts.

From Family Law newswatch


12 NOVEMBER 2013

Sir J Munby PThe controversial relationship between the media and the family courts and the Court of Protection was at the heart of Sir James Munby P's speech at the Society of Editors' Annual Conference this week, where he spoke strongly about the pressing need for greater transparency in the family courts and the Court of Protection.
Speaking of the public interest at the heart of family proceedings, he said:
"The workings of the family justice system and, very importantly, the views about the system of the mothers and fathers caught up in it, are matters of public interest which can and should be discussed publicly. Many of the issues litigated in the family justice system require open and public debate in the media. It is important in a free society that parents who feel aggrieved at their experiences of the family justice system should be able to express their views publicly about what they conceive to be failings on the part of individual judges or failings in the judicial system. And the same goes, of course, for criticism of local authorities and others."
He spoke of the ‘inevitable fallibility of human justice', putting forward the prevention of miscarriages of justice as another argument in favour of open justice:
"We must have the humility to recognise - and to acknowledge - that public debate, and the jealous vigilance of an informed media, have an important role to play in exposing past miscarriages of justice and in preventing possible future miscarriages of justice."
A further key point was visibility and the promotion of public confidence in the courts:
"It is vitally important, if the administration of justice is to be promoted and public confidence in the courts maintained, that justice be administered in public - or at least in a manner which enables its workings to be properly scrutinised - so that the judges and other participants in the process remain visible and amenable to comment and criticism."
Sir James Munby P also spoke of the freedom of the press to report, arguing that the family court judge should have no editorial control over the manner in which the media reports information:
"If there is no basis for injuncting a story expressed in the temperate or scholarly language of a legal periodical or the broadsheet press there can be no basis for injuncting the same story simply because it is expressed in the more robust, colourful or intemperate language of the tabloid press or even in language which is crude, insulting and vulgar. A much more robust view must be taken today than previously of what ought rightly to be allowed to pass as permissible criticism. Society is more tolerant today of strong or even offensive language. ...
As the Strasbourg court has repeatedly said, ‘journalistic freedom also covers possible recourse to a degree of exaggeration, or even provocation.'"
Referencing back to the 1927 case of Whitney v California, he quoted Brandeis J, who said:
"If there be time to expose through discussion the falsehood and fallacies, to avert the evil by the processes of education, the remedy to be applied is more speech, not enforced silence."
The final version of the Practice Guidance ‘Transparency in the Family Courts and the Court of Protection - Publication of Judgments' will be introduced later this year. The President called for consultation on how the media might access documents used in court, and how the rules governing the family court and the Court of Protection might be revised and aligned to achieve greater transparency.    

Inappropriate Comments.

Running a website,blog and support group sadly can attract people who have a desire to make inappropriate and to say the least insensitive comments.
Let me make it quite clear, once again, ALL comments on the blog are moderated and they ARE deleted.
If you make inappropriate and hurtful comments to grandparents who comment on FB, they WILL be removed and you will be removed from my FB page.
I know that I would be naive to think this is never going to happen, and after nearly 40,000 hits on the blog it is quite rare, but I WILL NOT stand for it.
If you are a parent who is denied contact, particularly, you should know only too well what to be denied contact means, sadly a couple of remarks lately have been from those parents.
I will and always have given support to non contact parents as well as grandparents, but if this continues believe me you are not doing your position any good at all.
Grandparents are suffering from this heartbreak, some make the decision to end their lives because they can't deal with the pain from not seeing their grandchildren, and yes, if you leave hurtful comments you are adding to their pain.

Sunday 17 November 2013

Tree of Hope, messages to your grandchildren.

So , it is creeping ever closer for you to be thinking of what you might like to write for the Tree of Hope.
For those of you who have just joined us, for the last 5 years I have put a Christmas Tree in my front garden for grandparents to come and write messages to their grandchildren.
If you are not local then you can email me your message and I will add it to the tree, as we reach Christmas Day it is a beacon of bright light full of love and hope.
You can email your messages to jane@bristolgrandparentssupportgroup.co.uk


Tea and Cake For The Grandchildren.

For those of you who have asked, here is a template letter that I sent to my local paper when setting up the group.

Tea and Cake For The Grandchildren.

There are over one million grandparents in the UK who are denied contact with their grandchildren, due to family breakdown.
This can be as a result of separation/divorce, drug/alcohol issues, domestic violence, bereavement or family feud.
To be denied contact is like a living bereavement and you are enveloped with feelings of isolation.
I am setting up a support group for grandparents who find themselves in this heartbreaking situation, so if you are one of those grandparents I would like to invite you to come for a cuppa and a piece of cake on ........................... at............................ Time:............
I look forward to seeing you.


Please feel free to use this, making it personal to you.
Just a reminder, remember you are NOT a legal expert and the point of the group is to give support.


Grandmother dragged into court.

Here we go again a grandparent dragged into court for wanting to see her grandchildren.
Having lost her son prematurely contact with his children was lost.
I have had many grandparents who contact me having lost their own children only to then find the partner who is left, for what ever reason removes all connection to the lost partner.
So grandparents who are grieving the loss of their child then suffer a further bereavement from loosing contact with their grandchildren.


Saturday 16 November 2013

Children as Confidantes.

When my boys were growing up I know that I would share my feelings and thoughts with them all the time, but I now question whether I should have done.
Was I sounding them out, looking for an adult opinion?
After all , they were children and I am quite sure not at all interested in whether I needed to do this that or the other.
Was I putting undue responsibility on their young shoulders?
I think it is an easy trap to fall in.
When a relationship breakdown occurs involving either your son or daughter, it is so, so easy to fan the flames to become judgemental about one or the other parent.
We can and do burden children with all sorts of unpleasantness.
It is hard enough for them to know that no longer are they going to be living as the family they once were, that fundamental change is about to happen.
What ever has gone on with their Mum and Dad the children still love them both just the same.
 We go through, all sorts of emotions when one of our children are going through separation/divorce, we are parents after all and we still want to protect out children from being hurt, even if they are adults.
In a way we have to keep our distance and not get embroiled in the turmoil that might ensue, we need to be there as a constant stabilising influence for the children.
Well, doing it is not always the case.
I certainly spoke out of turn, said things that I shouldn't have said to my granddaughter, I spoke to her as though she was an adult expecting her to give me adult responses, when her Mum and Dad had separated.
She was trying to deal with her Mum and Dad living in a different city from each other, she had half her family at one end of the country and the other half at the other end, she was dealing with different people coming into her life, but at that time, she still loved everyone just the same.
Children are children for such a short time they must not be burdened with adult issues, they must be allowed to grow and flourish in what can be at times a bewildering world.
Separation and divorce, is a difficult and traumatic thing for the whole family all members of that family need support and understanding to enable them to move through the process knowing that everyone is working to the same ends.
Conflict achieves nothing, except pain and suffering.
When you next find yourself in using children as your confidante, think again.


Services not available.

 I have had a very distraught grandparent ring me this morning, full of apologies for ringing me on a Saturday morning, saying that social services etc are never available over the weekend and she needed to speak to someone, now.
We spoke at length, I listened and we talked her situation through,  she said she felt 'ashamed', so often we as grandparents use that word, we think being grandparents we should be able to sort things out, to make things better, and we feel ashamed when we realise we can't.
This grandparent had been given BGSG's number 3 years ago, and she has been summoning up the courage to ring all that time, but it took a very serious climax for her to pick up that phone.
As I said to her, that is the most difficult part, the rest is easier.
It also made me realise of course, that sometimes we just need to speak to someone and it isn't always during 'office hours.'

Thursday 14 November 2013

Can you help.

As you know we are independent group and there is no membership fee for becoming a member.
Obviously, since setting the group up in 2007, it has cost money to run the group, the day to day running such as postage, phone calls, literature, publicity etc mounts up.
I am going to apply for some funding to cover the cost of updating the website etc, when I apply for funding from community funding options, I have to have a specific project and have to give account of exact costs etc, and community foundation charities wont give you a grant for day to day running.
So this is where you come in, I have never asked before but any donation would be gratefully received, any amount however small would be great, cheques can be made out to Bristol Grandparents Support Group ,or if you prefer I can give you the groups bank details for electronic transfers, please get in touch for those details.
Many thanks.

Tuesday 12 November 2013

Light a candle for your grandchildren online.

You can go to the link below and light a candle for your grandchildren, the candles burn for 48 hours, you can light as many as you wish and return to keep the hope burning.
Our group candles are in the BGSG group.

Karen Woodall's latest article, on the transition bridge being faced by alienated children.

For those of us who live in hope of being reunited, this shows what we need to expect and I know from grandparents who have been reunited that they are still working hard on regaining the trust of their grandchildren.


Wednesday 6 November 2013

Be grateful for today.

Over the last 10 days I have been overwhelmed by the responses of people using all forms of social media to share their concerns for a grandmother who is still missing in France, her car has been found but as yet no sightings of Carol.
I have never met this lady, I was alerted to the fact she was missing by a friend, and it was obvious to me to try and alert people through my own social media network.
What it has done is to make me focus on what is important.
When I wake every morning, wondering if she has been found, I just hold on to that moment, that moment of being part of a new day, not a wet, grey dank Wednesday morning, but a unique day.
A day full of opportunities.
I need to look  up into the sky, a sky that is ever changing from one minute to the next, I need to look into the eyes of people I meet today, all are unique, no-one the same as the other, all with their own stories to tell.
I need to take time to listen and to watch.
Brushing past a spiders web, I need to remind myself of the hard toil that has been for a small creature, the wonder of the dew that has formed on every thread.
There is nothing compared to a smile, a touch of a hand, sharing laughter or mopping up tears.
I am so grateful for my family, friends and the privilege of another day on this magical earth.
So it can never be, just another day.


* Sadly after I had posted this, the authorities discovered Carol's body, my thoughts are with all of her family and friends.

CAFCASS transfer to MOJ.

Will they continue to mess up families lives?
Answers on a postcard please!


Dads love for their children is total.

A short film of a Dads total love for his children.


Sunday 3 November 2013

British Grandmother still missing.

Those of you who are in France please can you share this poster in any way, FB, Twitter etc.
It is now 6 days since Carol left her home and has not been heard of since.