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.

Thursday 27 February 2014

Herne Bay grandparent?

Here is another shout out, is there anyone near Herne Bay Kent who would like to meet up with a grandparent who is denied contact from their grandchildren? Or Canterbury?
Please contact me.

Legislate for your TV but not your children.

And so it looks as though you will be able to legally enforce a pre nup agreement, in other words there will be legislation, but the government will not legislate for Shared Parenting. Obviously material things are far more important than the needs of the children and their relationship with both parents.http://www.theguardian.com/money/2014/feb/27/pre-numpial-agreements-legally-binding-divorce-law-commission


Wednesday 26 February 2014


If you would like me to send you posters to put up  in libraries, Health Centres etc please let me know.

Edinburgh Grandparents.

If you are a grandparent in  Edinburgh would you like to meet up with other grandparents who are denied contact with their grandchildren?
Just to meet up and share a coffee and a piece of cake and to support each other?
Please contact me.

Grandpa Hurts Too.

In the heartbreak of being denied contact there is often one very important person who slips into the background, Grandpa.
When Marc and I were doing an interview for Inside out West some time ago, the producer asked Marc a question, "How does it make you feel, not seeing your granddaughter?" There was a long pause, and I felt his hand shake in mine, as I looked up at him he had tears in his eyes and said, "It is grief, just grief." The room was totally silent as his utter sadness enveloped everyone.
It was at that moment I suddenly realised that, the man siting beside me was falling apart himself.
Well, of course he was, he had lost his granddaughter who he loves so deeply, but it was the first time that he had actually shown his emotion.
When we talked about it later, he said that he felt that grandpas are of a generation of stiff upper lip, of being the head of the family of being stoical in times of stress, of not being able or wanting to express their feelings.
The producer of the programme who was visibly upset herself asked him if he wanted that part taken out and not shown when it aired.
With our any hesitation he said, "No it must stay in, it is truth, other grandpas need to know its ok to show their personal despair."
As the programme ended the phone rang, it was a grandpa.
So to all grandpas who are also going through this, we are here for you too, and to all the grans, don't forget that grandpa hurts too.  x

Look after number one.

That is a phrase I rarely use, but if is one I have used to every grandparent I have spoken to.
When we find ourselves going through this living bereavement it takes over our lives, it is all encompassing.
Some people find they can not focus on anything else, but total thoughts of grief of feelings of failure.
What we have to do is to understand how this is effecting us physically and mentally.
I know from my own GP that grandparents are seeking their help in large numbers.
Once we realise what this is doing to us, we have to do something about it.
We must self protect.
Keep healthy you owe it to yourself and your family.
Family members are worried about you, they can see how this is eating you up they need you to be you. To be the Mum and Dad that they love.
I also think it is unhealthy to bottle up your feelings, talk to someone about your despair, don't pretend that this hasn't happened to others, explain that you are estranged from your grandchildren.
I know grandparents say that they feel their friends and family 'get fed up' with hearing about it, so I am not suggesting that it is all you talk about. What I mean is that many people keep it to themselves and I don't think that is a good thing.
So it is the one time that you must look after number one!


Tuesday 25 February 2014

Every grandparent is unique.

Having spoken to well over 1,000 grandparents since 2007, you would think that I would have heard it all, and that I would in some way have become desensitised to a certain extent, but I haven't.
Every single grandparent I speak to is  unique and are going through their own person hell.
Many, many litres of tears are shed during all those calls, but every single tear is so poignant.
Why oh why have we reached a stage where we can no longer communicate with one another without saying hurtful things, these hurtful things are destroying family life.
If you are reading this and you are a grandparent going through this heartbreak, don't suffer in silence, get in contact we are here to help and support in any way we can.
We can ease the pain you are experiencing.

Monday 24 February 2014

Are you in Saffron Walden, Bishops Stortford or South Cambridgeshire?

Are you a grandparent in any of the areas above  I have grandparents who would really like to meet up and share a cuppa.
Please contact me if you are. ASAP.

47,000 visits to blog!

Thank you to everyone who has visited the blog, it is quite overwhelming.
Please contribute by commenting, you can remain Anonymous, all comments are moderated before published.
Thank you again.

A great grandchild.

A little while ago I heard from a grandparent who had not seen their great grandchild, I have just heard today that she has now been reunited and hugs aplenty have taken place.
She had some wise words.
She said it may not always be possible to forgive but leave the past behind, the consequences of not being able to do so will have the catastrophic result of not being able to be part of these precious little ones lives.
I am so delighted for them all, what a perfect start to look forward to the new beginnings of Spring.

The muddy waters of Parental Alienation.

In the world of Parental Alienation the waters get muddied by some, for me as a lay person trying to get me head around all the different points of view is often confusing to say the lest.
I am not a professional in the field and so I look to those who are to help guide me through this maelstrom.
All I know is from my own personal experience around PA and the havoc it causes all members of the family unit, is that we have a generation of children browning up believing that they don't need both parents in their lives, and they don't need extended family either.

Karen Woodall has many more profound words to say on this subject this morning;



Sunday 23 February 2014

No home for misfortunes.

"Next time there is a storm keep both doors open so that your misfortunes can’t find a home."


I find your love.

This for everyone who finds themselves suffering from Parental Alienation in all its forms.

Lyrics to I find your love by Beth Nielsen Chapman.

I'll catch your smile on someone's face 
Your whisper in the wind's embrace 
Through diamond stars and songs and dreams 
I find your love in everything 

The sun, the sky, the rolling sea 
All conspire to comfort me 
From sorrow's edge life's beauty seems 
To find your love in everything 

I've come to trust the hope it brings 
To find your love in everything 
Even as I fall apart, 
Even through my shattered heart 

I'll catch your smile on someone's face 
.....amazing grace

I promise my children.

I have posted this before but it is worth revisiting it:

I promise that I will not in any way put my children in the middle of any dispute I may have with their mother/father,and that I will put my children’s best interest above everything else.
I will not make disparaging comments to them about their mother/father, use my children as pawns or leverage, or try to turn my children against their mother/father, no matter how angry I may be. 

I will focus on enjoying and making the most out of the time I have with my children, and will encourage my children to have a good relationship with their mother/father. 
I will keep in mind that my children are innocent bystanders in this process, and it is up to both of us to protect them.
I will remember that my overall goal is to raise happy, well adjusted children who have a healthy relationship with both parents.
Author unknown.

Saturday 22 February 2014

You are not alone.

Just to keep you all updated we have had over 2,000 hits on the blog since working with Esther Rantzen and The One Show and the total just keeps on rising.
I hope that more grandparents now know they are not alone and we are here to give them support.
Remember you can contact me by phone, email, Skype or if local at our meetings.
Plus the closed Facebook page that  I set up for you, a place where you can get support wherever you are, in the UK or anywhere.

Support for Shared Parenting in the States?

The tide is turning in America


Support for Australian Grandparents.

I was contacted by several grandparents in Australia one of them is setting up a group. Good Luck and I look forward to watching it grow.

YOU ARE NOT ALONE............
COST  $0                                                        BRING A SMILE J
CONTACT:  KATE  0401 977 225

Friday 21 February 2014

Family Separation Clinic- Understanding Parental Alienation


How is denied contact seen from the other point of view.

BGSG is of course a support group for grandparents who are denied contact with their grandchildren due to family breakdown. I am never judgemental that is not my role.
I think we also need to be looking at why we find ourselves in this position, the fact is that both 'sides' believe they are right.
As a result of working with Esther Rantzen I have had communication with some parents who deny contact, of course as Esther said at the end of the item  she would like to hear from parents who feel it necessary to deny contact.
I would like to share a few points: These words are others words not mine.
:Parents say that it is their right to decide who their children will see or not see.
:Grandparents should never have any rights.
:Some parents deny contact due to their overwhelming love for their children and they say it is the right thing to do.
:Sometimes the hurt is so deep it is impossible to rectify the problem.
:Adult children feel emotionally drained and rejected by the loss of their family.
:The pain of the past is too much to forgive.
:Some grandparents don't want any contact, and that loss for the adult child is immeasurable.
:In denying contact I am protecting my child.
:My parents are so critical about they way I am bringing my children up.
: I never had a relationship with my grandparents and I didn't care.
: Not having a grandparent in my child's life won't damage them.

Those are just a few points that have been raised, there is no doubt that the pain and hurt is very deep indeed for all concerned and my heart goes out to everyone.
I find myself wondering how can we heal these wounds.
Some of the anger and actually hatred that comes across is so distressing.
If reading this has upset any of you ,I am so sorry but I do really feel it is important that we can have a frank and honest discussion.
Obviously, to deny contact is extreme, families fall out all the time, but it doesn't always end like this, does it?

Thanks to Waitrose.

I had a call yesterday to say that out local branch of Waitrose is going to include BGSG in next months Community Matters charities.
So the more green tokens customers pop in the box the more finds we shall get.
Good news.


Wednesday 19 February 2014

Facing Parental Alienation.

Ok, we know that Parental Alienation is fact, we strive to get the law to recognise it in a court of law, but what can, we do.
There is no doubt that it is abuse, children are being damaged by the drip, drip feed of the poison of alienation.
We can of course swear, rant and generally fall into the trap of stooping to the level of those who alienate.
So, how are we going to face alienation and how do we deal with the despair it causes.

What do you find helpful?

Those of you who attend our meetings will know that the group has always been member led and I would welcome your views.
At the moment I am trawling through all sorts of websites, forums and a variety of literature.
There are numerous 'help' sites ect, but are they helpful?
When I read some of this stuff it personally makes me feel so low.
Sometimes reading all the actions of alienators is overwhelming, by the nature of the subject they are descriptions of all that is bad within some families.
I am often asked to share links, to recommend books and I am always a bit cautious, what may be helpful to some can be detrimental to others.
Let me know what you think.

Tuesday 18 February 2014

Monday 17 February 2014

24/7 Helpline The Silver Line

Here is the link to The Silver Line 24/7 helpline and website http://www.thesilverline.org.uk

"How do I cope with this living bereavement?"

So many grandparents say to me, "I don't know how to cope."
You have no doubt heard that this is likened to a living bereavement, unlike a bereavement you don't have the opportunity to come to terms with your loss.
I can only talk personally and for me it has been a long drawn out process.
I remember the first emotion was one of shock and disbelief, I would cry, shake couldn't eat, couldn't sleep. All my thoughts were confused and it affected me physiologically  and physically.
That phase seemed to be endless.
Once I began to not feel so numb, I was angry, an emotion that I don't usually display. I was mostly angry with myself for allowing this to happen.
Of course that is completely irrational, because actually I couldn't have prevented it.
Then that ugly feeling of shame, similar to the one above but terrible feeling of as a grandparent I should have been able to make everything ok, ashamed at talking to others about it because I thought they felt it was my fault.
I then felt as though I was going down a dark spiral of sheer emptiness, I became low and useless.
In time I realised that I was slowly disappearing as a person, I was just a person who seemed to make everyone around her miserable.
I needed to take stock of what was happening.
I was not the only one who was feeling so wretched, I had a son who was grieving the loss of his daughter, I had a husband who was also suffering but in silence about the void in his life and the whole family were experiencing similar feelings to myself.

Ok, so thats how I felt, but what did I do about it?

I realised that how ever painful all these feelings were I had to go through them to come out the other side, so I went a bit easy on myself.
If I felt I wanted to cry then I would go and sit at the bottom of the garden and sob, at the same time I was at one with nature, with birds buzzing back and forth the gentle trickle of the pond water, nature was actually looking out for me.
When I felt angry I would get the spade out and dig for England or weed until I couldn't stand up straight.
Lastly when I was feeling a bit more like me I went about setting up the support group, which has been so therapeutic for me, being able to allow others just to unload there emotions and to be able to just say, "Don't explain, I know." is a small thing but it works.

I am not suggesting that everyone goes out there and does any of the things I did but it may give you some ideas.

Remember if you are in the early stages of this bereavement, what you are feeling is completely normal and you will come up the other side.

Don't hang on to the negative stuff, think of all the positives in your life and remember you are not alone.
I am at the end of the phone, email, Skype and at our meetings.

You must protect yourself as well, take care of yourself.


Sunday 16 February 2014

Why join a support group?

When I first set up BGSG a grandparent said to me, "I don't want to join a group that makes me feel worse than I do already."
They are words that I try to keep in mind at all times.
By the very nature of being a support group, those who need support are sad, angry and bewildered, it is important of course to allow members to be open and honest about their feelings.
As I am often the first point of contact, grandparents are able to unload their most personal feelings, to a complete stranger, but I hope someone who listens and understands.   Hopefully, no longer a stranger by the end of our conversation. In complete confidence.
So why join a support group in the first place?
I don't think that I can really answer that it is for others to do that.
What I don't want is for anyone to think  that our meetings are full of tears and great sadness, there is an element of that but because of the support that members give to one another it actually is a positive and uplifting couple of hours.
As  Marc and I see everyone out at the end of the afternoon no-one leaves without a smile on their face.
We enjoy ourselves so much 16 of us are off to have lunch together in March!

Saturday 15 February 2014

We are independent.

Incase there is any confusion.
Bristol Grandparents Support Group is an independent group we are not affiliated to any other group, on any internet platforms, such as Twitter or Face Book.


The Infamous Lemon Drizzle Cake!

If you saw Esther Rantzens report on The One Show you may have noticed that she said at the end of the film, "I think it's time for lemon drizzle cake,"
I have always made cake for our meetings from the very beginning, as it was "Tea and Cake For The Grandchildren," that got the group up and running, well I made a lemon drizzle cake for the meeting featured.
When I was interviewed by Geraldine on North Manchester radio, she asked for the recipe to put on the Face Book page, and it has become the infamous lemon drizzle cake.
Here is a photo of Geraldine's (Grandparents Support) amazing finished  masterpiece, does it mean I need to ice fancy things on the top  from now on?
Also need to mention that Lyns fruit cake also featured!!!!!


Anyone got a room?

Has anyone got a meeting room for approx 20 people in Bristol?

A reminder of what "Love is."

No words are necessary
How's your love life? - 1 Corinthians 13youtube.comAmazing short film about Love Life - 1 Corinthians 13 How's your love life? no copyright infringement intended.


Friday 14 February 2014

An MP calls for stronger court action re PA.

So good to read this, finally and MP who understands.

Thanks to all new visitors

We have had over 1,000 hits on the blog since the report with Esther Rantzen on The One Show, thank you so much for your comments and emails.
It takes the total visits to nearly 45,000 hits since I started it.

No improvement in over 40 years.

As I sat and watched George Gently on TV last night, it became abundantly clear the Parental Alienation was alive and kicking in the 60's.
The language that was used is still in use today, the ex wife was told she was controlling.
It makes my heart heavy to see that we have not improved at all in over 40 years, children were prevented from having a loving and meaningful relationship with both parents and they still are.

Thursday 13 February 2014

We are guilty of conflict ourselves.

There are many, many groups out there all trying to do what is right for the children of this country.
Why Oh, why can't we all be working together?
Being naive in these matters, it makes perfect sense to me, but it appears that things like political agendas, government funding, one group having a go at another  prevents that happening.
There is a view of various different groups held by people, a stigma almost. If you mention a group, then there is always someone who will be scathing about them.
For me, actually I don't care, what is wrong is that we find ourselves in this situation because of a family conflict, so are we not just continuing the conflict by not working together?
Sometimes I feel as though I am spitting in the wind.
I have one focus and one focus only and that is looking at what these conflicts are doing to the future parents of this country.
Not exactly good role models are we.

Children are suffering in silence.

And the reports say:

*This year has also seen an increase in the number of children contacting ChildLine about problems relating to their family situation. We have experienced a 122 per cent rise in children contacting us about their parents’ separation or divorce. As well as this, 3,930 children contacted ChildLine concerned about their parents’ drinking, twice as many as
in 2011/12.
*Childline Report.

A new report by Netmums suggests that separating parents are in denial about the impact their divorce may have on their children.
The parenting organisation surveyed 1,000 parents and 100 children separately.
According to the report:
Only 14 per cent of children were able to be honest with their parents about how upset they felt.

:Two in five (39 per cent) said they 'hide their feelings from their parents as they don't want to upset them' while one in five felt 'there was no point in telling my parents how I feel as they are too wrapped up in themselves'.

:̈One in 12 felt forced to look after the parent as the relationship broke down while more than a third (35 per cent) claimed one of their warring parents tried to turn them against the other.

:Almost a third of under 18s described themselves as 'devastated' by their parents divorce while one in 12 thought it meant their parents 'didn't love them' and had 'let them down'. One in eight (13 per cent) blamed themselves for the split.

:The trauma of the spilt was so bad for some youngsters that 31 per cent witnessed their parents fighting while one in 20 (five per cent) drank, and three per cent took drugs to cope. Shockingly, one in nine self-harmed (11 per cent).

:A further six per cent considered suicide and one in 50 tried it but was found in time.

The parents' perspective is somewhat different:

:Only five per cent of parents realised their children blamed themselves for the split, and one in ten thought their children were 'relieved' they left their partner.

:Ten per cent of parents realised their child had seen them fighting – three times lower than the true figure.

:Eight per cent admitted they had tried to turn their child against the other parent, almost four times lower than reported by the children.

:77 per cent of separated couples think their children coped well – but only 18 per cent of children are happy their parents are no longer together.

:Whilst over a claim one of their parents tried to turn them against the other, only eight per cent of parents admit to it.

:Whilst one in five children drank and one in nine self-harmed to cope, just one in 100 parents knew.

The study also showed the most common way that children learned that their parents were breaking up was for the mother to tell them face to face (28 per cent) followed by both parents telling them together (24 per cent). However, 13 per cent overheard it during a row and one per cent were told by text.
Once a decision was made by the parents to break up, of the parents leaving two in five left that day with a further 18 per cent doing so within a week.

Wednesday 12 February 2014

Keep Believing.

Here is the poem I  wrote and read out on NMFM last week:

Keep Believing.
When you look up into the sky,
Whether the sun is shining or the rain is pouring,
If I had wings that I could fly,
To see you, to hug you and stop this mourning,
The sky that you can see,
The birds that are flying and singing near you,
Is the same  sky, the same birds,
You have to believe because its true.
It is just one blue or grey sky,
Birds chirping and swooping high and low,
Lets close our eyes tight, you can if you try,
The earth is covered white ,where you are and here, with snow.
One day, we will look up at the sky ,together.
Watch the birds, flying high,
No longer alone, with your family forever,

So close your eyes tight, and do not cry.

Jane Jackson (copyright)

Tuesday 11 February 2014

Dear Mr Cameron and Mr Clegg

Dear Mr Cameron and Mr Clegg,
As the Children and Families Bill is sitting in the House of Commons for your rubber stamp, as you sign I believe you need to be reminded of something.
At the beginning of the Family Justice Reform you said how important families were and that you fully backed family life.
There was a glimmer of hope that finally politicians were going to do the right thing for a generation of children.
That glimmer of light has been totally extinguished.
There will be no legislation for Shared Parenting in fact  not even the word 'presumption.' The children will now have even fewer rights than they do at present.
So we will continue to have non resident parents, usually fathers, fighting battles just to be able to see their own children.
We will continue to have millions of children growing up without a loving and meaningful relationship with both their parents and extended family.
Children being victims of Parental Alienation, going through the trauma of believing that one of their parents, who they love, have apparently stopped loving them.
Society needs families, the stability of family life, families are fractured and so is society.
It is a violation of the UN Children's Human Rights, children are learning by example that Dads in particular are not important and not needed, when they become parents they will continue this learnt behaviour.
You are the people who could have put things right for the children, instead you have bowed to the legal profession, feminist group the single parent groups and those who sit in The House of Lords who just do not understand at all.
It is NOT in the child's best interest to deny them the love and care of both their parents.
This is a very sad  day for the children of our country.
Jane Jackson
Bristol Grandparents Support Group.

The power of the media.

Every time I think that numbers of visits to the blog will level out, they don't.
As of this morning 11th Feb since Esther Rantzens report on The One Show visits are over 800.
To say I am overwhelmed would be an understatement.
The total visits since I first started writing this blog are now 44,320.
Thank you for those who contribute by commenting  and please keep sharing.
People who seek out support in this way know what it means to be denied contact, and to that extend I am preaching to the converted.
By sharing the blog, I hope to raise awareness to the general public who have no knowledge of Parental Alienation and the devastation it is causing non-resident parents and the extended family.
Please share via Twitter and Facebook.

Monday 10 February 2014

North Manchester FM podcast of programme.

Many thanks to Geraldine for her welcome this afternoon and for allowing me to share 30 mins chat on North Manchester FM about grandparents denied contact.


I apologise.

To my DIL I apologise for anything and everything I did in the past to make you dislike me so much.
It was never my intention to somehow cause this destruction of so many lives.
I know I was never the mother- in- law you hoped for, again I am sorry if I didn't live up to your expectations.
It is 7 long years now, and time has moved on.
What can I do to make things right, not for me or you but for a Dad and his daughter?

Sunday 9 February 2014

Closed FB group.

If you are trying to access Bristol Grandparents Support Groups page on FB, it is a closed group so you have to be invited to be a member.
I have sent some messages to people and the message, as we are not 'friends' will go to your 'other' folder. If like me until a few weeks ago, didn't even know I had an 'other' folder, if you click on your message icon at the top of your FB page, in grey it says, 'other' click on that and thats where my message should be!
www. bristolgrandparentssupportgroup.co.uk

Saturday 8 February 2014

A patron who is against shared parenting.

A very interesting blog, in particular the last paragraph as far as grandparents are concerned.
http://childrenandfamiliesbill.wordpres … parenting/


Contacting Esther Rantzen via The One Show.

If you want to contact Esther Rantzen on the issue of Grandparents being denied contact email her here
theoneshow@bbc.co.uk in the subject line write Esther Rantzen re Grandparents denied contact.


Friday 7 February 2014

14million grandparents, a force to be listened to.

So after an extraordinary couple of weeks, time to take a breath and look to the future and where do we go from here.
Those of you who attend out meetings will know that we are a small charity, with a constitution and trustees.
We need to consider becoming a registered charity, the pros and cons.
Being a registered charity you have to have an annual income of £5 k, as you all know, we get excited if we have £50 in the kitty for running costs of the group etc.
So consideration required.

On a different tack, there are 14million grandparents in the UK a force to be reckoned with. We are a generation who plod up to the ballot box with our votes, we can make a difference a huge difference on getting the government to accept Parental Alienation is abuse, in our case it is abuse of grandparents.
Abuse is an offence this emotional abuse is effecting a million grandparents.
If we have all grandparents supporting us, just think what we could achieve?
I know that many, many grandparents who are denied contact find it so hard to talk to others about this issue, but I see it as vital.
We can no longer hide this away, pretending that this abuse of grandparents is not happening.
It is also abuse of a generation of children, emotional abuse of denying them a relationship with their grandparents.
It is against their Human Rights.
I had a long conversation on the phone this afternoon after the meeting with a grandparent, who said she doesn't tell atone at all that she is denied contact, because she thinks people will think she is a bad person.
Until we do talk about this it will remain something that few people have any knowledge of denied contact. That is until it happens to them, and as we all know it can happen to anyone.
So don't hide this away like a skeleton in the cupboard.


Contact details.

I am very aware that people are trying to find a contact for me, so, email me jane@bristolgrandparentssupportgroup.co.uk
or T: 07773258270

Interview with John Darvall BBC Radio Bristol.

 I did an interview with John Darvall on Radio Bristol here is the link   on Feb 6th available for 1 week for the actual interview you need to fast forward 2:10mins :


Esther Rantzens item on The One Show

Here is the link it is the first item :


Thursday 6 February 2014

More support via contact page.

Please contact us via the contact page on our website http://www.bristolgrandparentssupportgroup.co.uk/contact_us.php  then I can give you more details ,for example I have a closed Facebook page that you can get support from others who are denied contact.

Wednesday 5 February 2014

More fatherless children as a result of government amendments.

Only one word, disgusted.


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.


Tuesday 4 February 2014

Esther Rantzen on The One Show.

Today we welcomed Esther Rantzen to Bristol and to meet with some of BGSG, She is doing an item on grandparents being denied contact in conjunction with The One Show on Thursday 6th Feb at 7pm.

Monday 3 February 2014

The cost of going down the legal route.

I am often asked about the cost of going to court to try and achieve a contact order to see your grandchildren, it is difficult to get a true figure but here is one breakdown I found.

http://familysolicitor.co.uk/legal-costs/fixed-fees/fixed-fees-for-disputes-about-children/ -The amount you pay depends on the stage your case reaches. Exactly what is included at each stage, and details of the cost, are set out below:

1. First meeting – £75, deducted from your first bill if you decide to proceed with your case.

We feel it is essential that we meet you face to face before we take any steps on your behalf. This way we get to know you well and we get to understand your particular worries and priorities. It also gives you a chance to meet the solicitor who will be acting for you and make sure that you feel comfortable with him or her.

At the initial meeting we would usually discuss your own situation with you, touching on issues relating to yourself, your children and your finances. We would usually be able to give you some helpful advice on these issues which is personalised to your own situation and to answer any particular questions which are worrying you.
We usually expect the initial meeting to take about an hour, and most of our clients say that they find it very helpful indeed. If you cannot come to our office because you live overseas the meeting can take the form of a long telephone call.
Following the meeting can discuss whether you would like some written information about the topics we have discussed, but the fee does not include this nor does it include any other steps, for example writing to other parties or their solicitor.

2. Trying to reach an agreement without starting court proceedings - £450

You may wish to instruct us to try to negotiate an agreement with the other party or his or her solicitor. This usually involves exchanging correspondence to establish what your position is, then formulating and putting forward proposals. As an alternative to this you may want to consider using other options such as mediation or collaborative law. 

In most cases we would expect you and any other party to reach an agreement without proceedings, perhaps with the help and guidance from solicitors. It is important and sensible to do this but, also, it is important to recognise when discussions and negotiations are fruitless, and to consider other options available.  We recognise that drawn out negotiations are rarely in a child’s best interests.
The fixed fee includes:
  • Writing to the other party to confirm your proposals or future arrangements and seeking confirmation of the other party’s proposals.
  • Advising you about the issues arising.
  • Advising you about any proposals you receive and helping you to formulate your own proposals.
  • Negotiating with the other party and his or her solicitor, usually by letter or e-mail, to try to reach agreement.
The fixed fee does not include:
  • Charges made by other people to provide information.
  • Direct “face to face” meetings with the other party and his/her solicitor. We can arrange these meetings where they are appropriate but we would need to charge you separately.
  • Drawing up a formal agreement if an agreement is reached.
  • Further negotiations after we conclude that there is no realistic possibility of an agreement, or after six weeks from the start of this stage.
  • Negotiations after you or the other party has issued an application to the court.
  • Any issues in relation to applications for abduction, enforcement or financial provision for children.
  • Negotiations with more than one other party.

3. Completing the application to commence court proceedings – £275

You should try to reach an agreement without any court proceedings, and we hope that, with our help, you will achieve that, ideally at an early stage in order to minimise the cost to you. If, however, this is not possible and you wish to ask the court to resolve matters we can prepare your court application. 

The fixed fee includes:
  • Drafting an application for an order.
  • Sending it to you for approval and discussing the detailed wording with you.
  • Sending the application to the court for issue and arranging service on the other party by post.
  • Dealing with any questions the judge may raise in correspondence before issue.
If you receive an application issued by another person we can advise you regarding this and complete an acknowledgement of service on your behalf and arrange for this to be lodged at court.  The cost of this will be £100.
The fixed fee does not include:
  • The court fee.  The fee depends on the type of application issued but is typically about £215.
  • Being represented at court by a solicitor.
  • Any charges in relation to tracing the other party if their address is not known.
  • Completion of a supplemental information form.  This form is required if allegations of harm are made

4. Representing you at a first court appointment – £650

There may come a point when it is clear that we are not going to reach an agreement. Long negotiations which get nowhere are deeply frustrating, so it may become necessary to issue a court application, or the other party may decide to do so. You can ask us for more information about the court process.
The fixed fee scheme is available in relation to applications for residence, contact, parental responsibility and specific issue orders.
The fixed fee includes:
  • Going to the first court appointment with you if it is in Bristol, Weston-super-Mare or Bath, and representing you at court. If the court appointment is at another court we will also represent you but we will charge you extra for travel, etc
  • If your case settles without us actually having to go to court we will reduce our fixed fee by £400, but if you need us to prepare a consent order for which we will charge you £100.
  • Advising you about any proposals received, helping you to formulate proposals and negotiate with the other party’s solicitor in correspondence.
  • Representing you and negotiating for you at court and, if an agreement is reached at court, preparing a consent order setting out the terms of the agreement.
The fixed fee does not include:
  • Applications for enforcement, abduction, prohibited steps orders, or applications for permission to remove from the jurisdiction permanently.
  • The court fee which you have to pay if you issue the application.  This is currently £200 for most applications.
  • Writing to other people for documentation.
  • Any other application you or the other party might make.
  • Any charges made by third parties for providing information, and any charges for expert reports, such as drug testing, DNA testing, psychological reports, etc.
  • Representation at court by a barrister. We would not normally recommend you to engage the services of a barrister at this stage of the proceedings, but, if you do so, his or her fee would be payable separately and we would also have to charge you an extra £250 for the administration involved and preparation of a detailed brief to the barrister.
  • Proceedings in which there are more than two parties.

5. Helping you to deal with the steps following the first court appointment up to and including representing you at a further directions/review hearing – £1,500

In our experience, it is not always possible to resolve matters at the first hearing.  If it is necessary to continue beyond that point the judge will give directions as to what further information should be provided, and will usually set a date for a further hearing a few weeks later.

We will help you to comply with the court’s directions, we will prepare all the documentation needed for the next hearing and represent you at that hearing.
The fixed fee includes:
  • Drafting a statement on your behalf, if the court directs this.
  • Pressing the other party’s solicitor to comply promptly with any directions made against him or her.
  • Advising you about any proposals received, helping you to formulate proposals and negotiate with the other party’s solicitor in correspondence.
  • Going to the directions or review hearing with you if it is in Bristol, Weston-super-Mare or Bath, and representing you at court. If the court appointment is at another court we will also represent you but we will charge you extra for travel, etc. If your case settles without us actually having to go to court we will reduce our fixed fee by £500, but if you need us to prepare a consent order we will charge you separately, see above.
  • Representing you and negotiating for you at court and, if an agreement is reached at court, preparing a consent order setting out the terms of the agreement.
The fixed fee does not include:
  • Representation at court by a barrister. We would not normally recommend you to engage the services of a barrister at this stage of the proceedings, but, if you do so, his or her fee would be payable separately and we would also have to charge you an extra £250 for the administration involved, preparation of a detailed brief, etc. The barrister’s own charges would be extra.
  • Writing to other people for documentation needed to comply with the judge’s directions. We think that you would probably prefer to do this yourself, so we have not included it in our costings. Of course, we can write these letters for you if you wish but we would need to charge you extra.
  • Any charges made by third parties for providing information, and any charges for expert reports, such as drug testing, DNA testing, psychological reports, etc.
  • Commissioning reports from third parties, which may be required, such as drug testing, DNA testing and obtaining psychological reports, etc.
  • Drafting statements on behalf of witnesses or third parties.
  • Representation at a finding of fact hearing, if allegations are made by either party.
  • Drafting or responding to a schedule of allegations in relation to a potential finding of fact hearing.

6. Further hearings and court directions

In applications concerning children several hearings will often be necessary to resolve matters.   We will be happy to represent you at further hearings and to help you to comply with court directions if this is necessary.  A fixed fee can be agreed with you in advance in respect of any further assistance that you may need.

7. Preparing for a trial/final hearing and going to the trial/final hearing with you – £3,000.

Taking a case to trial involves quite a lot of detailed preparation work. We will carry out all the necessary preparation work for you for this fee. It does not include our advocate actually representing you at court; we would discuss and agree a separate fee for that when we know more about how long the trial is likely to take and what the issues are. 

We may recommend you to engage the services of a barrister at this stage in the proceedings, and if so we will probably suggest you have a meeting with the barrister (known as a ‘conference’) a few weeks before the trial date so that he or she can advise you and also point out any additional information he or she thinks you should produce or any other steps he or she would like us to take before the trial.
The fixed fee includes the cost of arranging and briefing the barrister, and going to the conference with you. It also includes coming to court with you and your barrister on the morning of the trial to deal with any last minute points and to be present during negotiations before you go into court. It does not include staying at court throughout the remainder of your day. If you or your barrister wish us to do that, however, we will charge you an additional sum of £500. It does not include the fees charged by the barrister.
The fixed fee includes:
  • Helping you to comply with any court directions.
  • Commissioning any reports or addendum reports from third parties which may be required, such as psychological reports, drug testing, DNA testing, etc.
  • Pressing the other party’s solicitor to comply promptly with any directions made against him or her which remain to be complied with.
  • Advising you about any proposals received, helping you to formulate proposals and negotiate with the other party’s solicitor in correspondence.
  • Drafting a position statement if required.
  • Going to a meeting with a barrister, and going to court with you on the morning of the trial with you and the barrister.
The fixed fee does not include:
  • Representing you at the trial
  • Fees charged by a barrister for your meeting with him or her and for representing you at court.
  • Any charges raised by third parties for providing information, and any charges for expert’s reports, such as psychological reports, DNA testing, drug testing, etc.
  • Fees charged by any third parties, such as psychologists, for attending court. It is rare for an expert to be asked to attend court but, if it happens, he or she will make an extra charge. --
Note that barristers fees not included.

Always, always get a breakdown before you embark on going to court, bearing in mind that if the resident parents decides not to adhere to the order, you have to go back to court and square one.