"Bringing Families Together"

"Bringing Families Together"

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Grandparents Apart Wales. Response to Nick Clegg

Nick Clegg the Deputy Prime Minister revealed plans last week for grandparents to get stronger rights to step in and help children when parents break-up.

He said it was "crazy" that the wider family did not feel they could intervene in such situations, and the UK Government is setting up a Childhood and Families Ministerial Task Force.

It's essential that we express the importance of grandparents in a child's life. They are the biggest carers of children in this country - but for too long, even with this being recognised by all UK Governments they haven't had a role to play as far as the law is concerned.

When social services turn up at their doorstep asking if they can take their grandchildren due to some problem or other, very few will refuse.

When there are difficulties in a household, for example a parent is unable to look after their kids due to a drug or other dependency problem, grandparents are often first to provide the needed care and step in to help out.

We can and do prevent children from going into care, and provide a warm home and stable environment. Vulnerable children can either grow up to be thugs or good citizens and much of that is determined with what actually happens to them in their childhood.

When parents spilt up, and children are involved, it's not the role of grandparents to take sides, however they could play the role of mediator and act in the best interests of the children.

People are living longer and today's grandparents tend to be younger and fitter than in previous generations giving families the opportunity to spend many happy years together.

Years ago one was fortunate to know their grandparents, and even if they did it was generally only for a short period.

It will surprise some people to learn that we don't believe in automatic legal rights for grandparents. However, the courts and social services do need to give grandparents more consideration than they do at present when making assessments about children's lives. It appears to us the authorities do underestimate the loving and supporting role grandparents can play within the family.

The tragedy when a grandparent loses touch with their grandchildren is absolutely heartbreaking and we as a charity are powerless to help but do have the experience to support and guide the grandparents who become confused and vulnerable usually at the hopelessness of their situation. To many it’s like bereavement, but without any hope of closure.

However we must stress there is hope and our latest success story comes from Glasgow where a woman contacted our charity and travelled over 500 miles to see her grandchild after Jimmy and Margaret Deuchars of Grandparents Apart UK arranged a mediation session.
Such success stories give us all hope and strengthens our resolve to help children see the people they love and who love them.

Grandparents Apart Wales champions the right of children to see their loved ones so that people do not spend their later year’s heartbroken suffering the anguish of being unable to see their grandchildren grow up.

In this modern day and age parents are more educated in bringing up a family and this must not clash with the grandparents ideas of how it was bringing up a family in their years.

Grandparents should be there to support the family and the majority simply does that without interference, but when parents face problematic situations we do advise mediation should be considered before solicitors and courts.
Frank Bradfield
Grandparents Apart Wales
Email frank@bradfield.myzen.co.uk
Telephone No 01492 874395

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