There are many grandparents who, due to circumstances very often beyond their control, never get to see their grandchildren.
The reasons can vary considerably. It can be due simply to a falling out amongst family members, sometimes the parents of the children have divorced or have simply moved a long distance away.
In other more serious situations parents of the children involved may suffer drink or drug related problems, the children may be removed for safety reasons, in some cases fostered, meaning grandparents have no legal access to their grandchildren.
The support group was first formed following a difficult situation I found myself in when it was made difficult for me to see my grandson.
Things came to a head soon after his first birthday and I had no contact for nearly three years.
When I started sharing my situation with other people it soon became clear that I wasn't alone, and that many other grandparents were suffering similarly, and like me they found it difficult to share what they were going through with other people who were not suffering.
GranPart is designed simply to give grandparents who are going through this difficult time an opportunity to meet others in a similar situation. In an informal environment we chat and share experiences and can be empathetic and supportive to each other.
OUR NEXT MEETINGS:
Shenley Church End Parish Council meeting room, Milton Keynes.
Tuesday 29th August
Monday 25th September
Monday 23rd October
Tuesday 28th November
Monday 18th December
Manning Watts House, Garners Way, Harpole Northants NN7 4DN
Friday 18th August
Friday 22nd September
Friday 20th October
Friday 17th November
Friday 15th December
See contact page for details (click Contact)
Mayor and Mayoress offer their support
We were delighted to welcome Milton Keynes Mayor David Hopkins and his wife Susan to our meeting on Monday 24th July. They listened intently as members of the group told their heart-breaking stories of how their lives have been turned upside down and they offered support and advice.
The group explained how GranPart had helped by giving support and the opportunity to meet with others in similar situations. Solicitor Tina Shah, who has been a long-term supporter of the group, was also there to offer advice.
GranPart Raising Awareness at Summer Fetes
Our first ever outdoor event kicked off with Shenley Church End Summer Fete, held at Medbourne Pavillion Milton Keynes.
This was a huge learning curve for the group, as we weren't sure what to expect. We decided that our stall would consist of a game for children, cakes provided by Marion's daughter Rachel, who has her own small bakery business, and lots of information about the group itself.
It was brilliant, with all the kids loving our Fish Pong game where they could win bags of sweets.
The following Saturday we attended Broughton & Brooklands MK50 Festival and this was an even greater success. We then went on to do the Harpole Scarecrow event on the 9th September.
On the 25th April 2017 David Mackintosh MP moved the motion to debate grandparents' rights to access to grandchildren in Westminster Hall.
He spoke strongly about the issues surrounding grandparents access and the rights of grandchildren and called for changes in the law to be further debated. He received support from other MP's who have also experienced grandparents visiting their surgeries with stories of their own traumatic situations.
We were also delighted that David mentioned the good work GranPart are doing and we thank him for his support.
Lobby Day at Westmister 31st January 2017
The day started early for me as I was asked by 3 counties radio to talk about what we were hoping to achieve. (click to listen Media)
I attended Lobby day accompanied by Iain Stewart MP who is Patron of my group. The aim of the day was to raise awareness amongst politicians of the desperate need to recognise the rights of grandparents.
The law does not presently convey an automatic right to grandparents to have contact with their grandchildren.
At present grandparents, must firstly get over the hurdle of applying to the court for leave (permission), then if such leave is given they will formally apply to see their grandchildren for what is known as "a child arrangement order".
Solicitor Vanessa Lloyd Platt, a passionate supporter of changing the law, spoke to the group along with Dame Esther Rantzen another long term supporter.
Lynn Chesterman OBE said there will be a petition and hoping to get 100,000 signatures.
She wants to see the application for leave of court abolished and that children should have the right to see their grandparents and that children should be the main priority as grandparents play such an important role in a child’s life.
Dame Esther was impressed at the loyalty shown at the event by the number of grandparents in the room.
She had 238 testimonials from when she appeared on the One Show a few years ago with Jane Jackson from the Bristol grandparent group and she read a couple out which were all too familiar stories of most people in the room. She refers to the fact that this loss is a living bereavement. In France they already have automatic right and do not have to apply to the courts.
She touched on the fact that yes you can take this to court but at a cost a very expensive one at that.
Vanessa is a grandmother of 3 and extremely passionate about grandparent’s rights as she has lots of clients that come to her for advice.
She wants the application for leave of court abolished, as we are behind the times with this and children should have the right to see their grandparents. She will not stop pushing this till this law is changed. She went on to say that even when you apply for a child arrangement order it is not always successful and so that is money not well spent.
In 2010 MP’s looked into making changes but no change was ever made. However, after today’s event hopefully MP’s will discuss it and put it in the manifesto.
There are many reasons why grandparents are denied access but we still should remember family loyalties and respect.
Rabbi David Mason supports a group from Hendon and he quoted the 5th commandment “Honour thy Mother and Father” which says it all really.
Lynn Chesterman did the summary of the discussion and said this WILL go to the policy board and in the next manifesto for the next election.
There are thousands of grandchildren in the UK who are prevented from enjoying the love, warmth and care of their grandparents, and consequently thousands of grandparents trying to manage their lack of contact every day. This 'living bereavement' can have a significant impact on grandparents' health and well-being. It is therefore so very very important to provide support groups that can help grandparents through their pain and loss. These groups can provide support, information and advice to grandparents in a confidential environment. With the support of groups like GranPart, grandparents no longer feel isolated and know there are people who understand their pain and are there for them throughout the difficult times. Suzanne Viora - Grandparents' Association