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.
MEETING DATES 2018:
Shenley Church End Parish Council meeting room, Milton Keynes.
Tuesday 29th May - Tuesday 26th June
Monday 30th July - Tuesday 28th August
Monday 24th Sept - Tuesday 30th October
Tuesday 27th Nov - Monday 17th December
Manning Watts House, Garners Way, Harpole Northants NN7 4DN
Friday 18th May - Friday 15th June
Friday 20th July - Friday 17th August
Friday 14th Sept - Friday 19th October
Friday 16th Nov - Friday 7th December
See contact page for details (click Contact)
In October we will be holding two Macmillan Coffee Mornings.
The first will be at Manning Watts House Harpole on Friday 19th October, 10:30am - 1:30pm and then on Tuesday 30th October at Shenley Church End Parish Council Community Centre Milton Keynes 10:00am - 1:00pm.
Please come along and support this great cause and enjoy our raffle, tombola and lucky dip plus lots of fantastic cakes.
On Friday August 17th South Northamptonshire Council Chairman Richard Dallyn came along to our meeting at Manning Watts House.
After listening to the group, we explained our plans on promoting GranPart in order to gain greater awareness. Richard was able to offer advice based on his previous experience working in the media.
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.
WESTMINSTER HALL DEBATE
Click on image above to watch the debate.
On the 2nd May 2018 a debate was held in Westminster Hall when Nigel Huddleston, MP for Mid Worcestershire, moved a motion that the House considered grandchildren's access rights to their grandparents.
t is not the first time that this issue has been debated in the House of Commons. A similar debate took place about a year ago. Unfortunately, because of purdah rules close to the election the then Minister was unable to give the full response as expected.
The debate featured many MP's talking about constituents who have visited them at thier surgeries with stories of grandparent alienation.I
Northampton MP Andrew Lewer and our patron Iain Stewart MP mentioned the great work Granpart is doing to support members of their constituencies.
Following on from the debate Nigel Huddleston wrote in his August newsletter 'I also met with Justice Minister Lucy Frazer to reiterate my calls for action to be taken to improve grandchildren’s access rights to their grandparents. This meeting was a follow-up to the Westminster Hall debate I led on the issue earlier this year and I was pleased to hear that the changes to legislation I proposed in the debate are being considered by the Ministry of Justice. I am still receiving correspondence from families across the country who have been denied access to their grandparents or grandchildren and I will continue my lobbying efforts on my return to Parliament in September'.
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
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