When I went through the courts in the battle to maintain contact with my granddaughter there was one thing that stuck in my mind, if I lost the established contact with my granddaughter then so would the rest of my immediate family, all 40 + members, my brothers, sisters, her great Aunts & Uncles, my daughters – Aunts, and all the children, cousins and second cousins.
They didn’t all come along on those first prescribed, supervised contact visits, but I did take along a couple of my daughters, (her immediate Aunts,) because their relationship was already established, and to my mind it was important for the continuity and stability of my granddaughter, she needed to know that whilst she understood there was a problem and a breakdown in family relations, that her family would still be there to look out for, and love her.
You don’t need to have gone through a family separation to understand how vital those bonds are, but if you have already experienced it in your lifetime it can have a detrimental effect on your health and well-being – physically, emotionally and mentally.
I had gone through it twice in my life as a child, firstly when I was adopted as a baby, (unusually my biological mother remained in the adoptive family home until I reached the age of 5) and then again when I was placed in a care home aged 12, until I reached 16 and was set ‘free’ to make my own way in the world!
You could argue that it informed the way I deal with alienation, and how abhorrent it has become to me, I don’t think I ever got over the feeling of rejection, that’s not to say I became a victim either!
This leads me to today, and just as I was contemplating giving up Grandparent Support Ltd, (there are far bigger organisations out there with vast resources, lottery and Government funding, doing amazing work, I prefer to work independently – I have the right to voice my opinion and shall not be censored!) I received a phone call from a lady wanting to know why the extended family couldn’t be included in their visit, (2 members only) I hadn’t had this problem as nobody had objected when I had done it, but I all too readily identified the problem, differing local authorities seem to adopt different practices- this unfortunately I had encountered, and as we know things are dealt with on a case-by-case basis.
It is a basic human right- the right to family life, both for the child and the members of that child’s family,
Although as stated within the act it is “a qualified right”.
This lady has already qualified as a special guardian for her grandson and together they have periodic visits with his two siblings in foster care, and she has been assured by the local authority that they are all working towards reuniting the family in the future.
Surely then, one must apply common sense and include extended family, not én-masse obviously, but for those occasions when it would be normal to do so, i.e. holidays such as Easter! After all it is the natural family support network.
On the 19th March 2015 Edward Timpson the Under Secretary of State for Children and Families, gave a speech in Manchester, you can read it here: https://www.gov.uk/government/speeches/making-it-easier-for-more-people-to-come-forward-and-foster
He failed to mention the “300,000 children in the UK, being brought up by grandparents and other family members (kinship carers). Many of these children have been neglected or abused or suffered the death or serious illness of a parent. Almost half have special needs or a disability.
Most of the children would be in care if their relative hadn’t stepped in to look after them. It would cost the taxpayer £12 billion each year in care costs alone if they were in independent foster care. Yet the enormous contribution that kinship carers make is often hidden or taken for granted. Too many kinship carers bringing up vulnerable children suffer isolation, poverty and stress.”
Source: Grandparents Plus.
Edward Timpson also failed to mention how little is done to prevent parent/grandparent/family alienation and how as a society, alienation has now become the cruellest “weapon of choice” between separating couples and families.
Yet the Department for Education is set to spend £1.597m from their Innovation Programme Funds, on adopting and no doubt adapting the U.S. Mocking Bird Programme:
Whilst I applaud the Under Secretary for addressing this issue, and creating help and much needed support for Foster Carers, we have a long way to go in order to “slay the beast that is – Family Alienation” and its subsequent victims, not least of all the children.
The £1.597m is a mere drop in the £12 BILLION Ocean that the government is saving by utilising kinship carers who are undervalued and largely ignored for the knowledge and contribution they make.
I wish you all a Happy and Peaceful Easter and wish folk would not try and teach Grandparents how to suck eggs!
Please click on the link and sign the petition:
Grateful thanks to Grandparent Plus and all the hard work they do, you can visit their site for more information here: