Gransnet forums


Access to grandchildren after separation - campaigning figurehead needed!

(34 Posts)
Carol Wed 07-Mar-12 11:29:40

In today's webchat, Joan Bakewell has suggested that grandparents denied access to their children should perhaps have a figurehead to front their campaign, and to keep writing to the people we have already discussed in other threads, but also to members of the House of Lords (definitely Dame Joan, then!). Celebrities like Gloria Honeyford have been suggested in the past. Gransnet has said they will try to get the Children's Minister to come in for a chat. Has anyone any good suggestions for a figure head? What about Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstalls' mum, or Janet Ellis?

wotsamashedupjingl Wed 07-Mar-12 12:33:55

Well, there is someone who thinks a lot of his own grandmother.

wonderful, caring grandmother

Or is that aiming a bit too high?

glassortwo Wed 07-Mar-12 12:56:17

Ester Rantzen?

Notsogrand Wed 07-Mar-12 13:01:18

I was thinking Esther Rantzen too glass.......I think she's in the process of setting up a Help Line for older people (similar model to Child Line), so would be a good figurehead.

Carol Wed 07-Mar-12 13:10:36

Esther Rantzen was on here last November. Here is her reply to my question:


Welcome Esther - ditto what has been said about grandparents and their loss of contact with their grandchildren through divorce and separation. Have you any advice or can you link us to a thriving organisation that will benefit from the power of a group of Gransnetters? I am lucky to be reunited with my grandson very recently, but the sense of loss and despair I have experienced I will remember for the rest of my life, and I now know that my grandson has been bewildered about not being able to see me - he keeps checking when he will see me again and asking if that's a promise - he knows I keep my promises. Thanks.

You are so right. I have had so many letters over the years from grandparents who feel just as you do. The young need the old. And vice versa. (Not that there are any "old" any more. I have a friend of 102 and even he is described as "elderly"). Anyway, although grandparents have no legal rights at the moment, everything depends on the attitudes of the parents, of course. So I'm delighted your story has ended happily. And good luck and much sympathy to all the others who have been through the same awful experience. xxx

Unfortunately, Esther didn't rise to the challenge and make any suggestions about an organisation we could link with, in her answer.

wotsamashedupjingl Wed 07-Mar-12 13:24:45

One of the minor older royals might take it one. Princess Alexandra?

You could contact Buck house.

Carol Wed 07-Mar-12 13:30:22

I don't think me and the Royals would get alomg Jings

I think they're all parasites They might not be that interested in loss of contact with grandchildren grin

Maniac Wed 07-Mar-12 13:36:48

Out all morning so just caught the Joan Bakewell chat.
So glad she responded to the question on this subject.
I asked a similar question on the Esther Rantzen item but was disappointed at her response.
Right!! GNs get writing -your MP and Michael Gove MP to start.
I heard Nina Mishkov give an emotional and supportive response to this issue on a Sunday morning TV programme in Nov last.
Louis de Berniers the author spoke in a recent Radio 4 interview of his heartbreak/despair and the effect of separation for grandparents.
Could we get a question asked on 'Question Time'.Did one of the Mumsnet /Gransnet team once appear on the panel of this programme.

Annobel Wed 07-Mar-12 14:17:07

It's definitely not a job for a royal. It could get political, though not necessarily party political. Best to have a member of the Lords in order to have sufficient clout and the necessary contacts. But who?

Carol Wed 07-Mar-12 14:37:53

There are 181 female peers in the House of Lords.

From this list, the ones that spring immediately to mind are Joan Bakewell, Elizabeth Butler-Schloss, Jean Corston and Glenys Kinnock, but I am not knowledgeable about many of these women.

glassortwo Wed 07-Mar-12 14:45:03

I have been looking too carol and I came up against the same problem smile

GeraldineGransnet (GNHQ) Wed 07-Mar-12 14:45:34

We will ask around our contacts to see what they think and whether one of them might perhaps be interested in taking it on. Suspect to do it properly will require quite a lot of work but it's worth asking.

And also obviously alert us if there are any stories/news developments we can pick up on - we can sometimes get something into the media.

Carol Wed 07-Mar-12 15:34:41

Thank you Geraldine! smile

Seventimesfive Thu 08-Mar-12 11:22:35

My vote would be for Elizabeth Butler-Schloss. As a retired judge she would bring considerable knowledge and experience together with a calm and compassionate understanding. She is a strong and respected figure and would carry a good deal of weight in putting forward grandparents case.

glassortwo Thu 08-Mar-12 11:24:52

I think she would be a good choice seven

wotsamashedupjingl Thu 08-Mar-12 11:30:02

I wouldn't think you could expect a 'figurehead' to do much of the actual work. Would have thought they would be just that a 'figurehead' ie a name at the top of the page. Wouldn't the actual people concerned have to do the work.

wotsamashedupjingl Thu 08-Mar-12 11:30:42

I doubt if anyone would take much work on without payment. [cynical]

Maniac Thu 08-Mar-12 11:48:14

Baroness Butler Sloss (Ive checked spelling) seems an ideal choice but she is already president of Grandparents Association,which means she is already very well aware of the issues.How would we fit into that situation?
As for doing the work I would work my socks off to get contact rights for my grandson,son and me in that order.

Carol Thu 08-Mar-12 12:05:44

I agree with what others have said, and if Baroness Butler Sloss is already with the Grandparents Association, couldn't we all unite for this cause?

LydiaReid Tue 03-Apr-12 15:04:38

I wonder if I might make a few suggestions

For many years I chaired Grandparents Apart in Scotland
We were then a huge Charity
We offered the ability to speak on the phone just to get things off your chest
We offered a system where one person would go with another if things got to the stage where court action was necessary
We submitted petitions to parliament not just to gain advantage but also to gain publicity

We worked on what we called a three step plan

Step 1 Talking . Try every avenue get relatives or friends to speak on your behalf if they wont talk to you

Step 2 Family Mediation
If it does not happen or does not work the court is impressed if you offer this

Step 3 Court action A step that I would avoid if possible but sometimes the only option

I found the best way to make headway was through parliament through a petition

I know this is gransnet but do you feel the person you choose must be female?

From my time I can say that the people who gave most support were men

I also have a theory that if the problem with dads not getting contact is sorted then it would help grandparents

From my time we carried out many surveys and proved that most grandparents deprived of contact were indeed paternal grandparents

Maniac Tue 03-Apr-12 21:49:33

Welcome LydiaReid.Good to have the benefit of your experience with Grandparents Apart. Do you have any suggestions of someone to spearhead our campaign?
I do agree that paternal grandparents are more often deprived of contact-as in my case.
I have written of my situation in the 'Denied Contact'and
'Cut out of their lives' threads.
Will you be contributing to the 'Womans hour' programme
on Easter monday on the subject of 'Grandparents'.
Look forward to hearing more from you.

Carol Mon 09-Apr-12 14:57:26

Did anyone hear the Women's Hour programme today, which was devoted to grandparents? I switched on when it was part way through, and heard Jane Fearnley Whittingstall talking about her recent trip, which she blogged on here. Then, a lawyer spoke about loss of contact with grandchildren situations grandparents have been experiencing, saying that those grandparents who remained non-commital towards their children's rocky marriages were less likely to be seen as taking sides after separation and therefore less likely to be denied contact, which seemed a very simplistic appraisal of a complex issue. Didn't hear any more, as I was driving and had arrived at my destination!

Annobel Mon 09-Apr-12 15:55:11

I heard a bit of it, carol and it struck me that they might have asked a number of our members to contribute. Very short-sighted!

Carol Mon 09-Apr-12 17:01:33

Apparently, they recorded it well before transmission. One or two Gransnetters emailed but we were too late!

wotsamashedupjingl Mon 09-Apr-12 17:18:35

Geraldine contacted the prog Annobel but they said perhaps next time. hmm

I suppse if it had been recorded in advance, that would be the reason.