I am Debi Richens, founder of Berkshire Grandparents. I am an alienated/estranged parent and alienated grandparent. I have two granddaughters, born in 2015 and 2017, whom I have not been allowed to get to know. I have only seen my older grandchild a handful of times and have never met my younger one at all. The alienation and estrangement from my daughter have been ongoing since I started divorce proceedings in 2005. There have been sporadic periods of contact but they have been difficult and limited. I have felt isolated from, and unwelcomed by, my own family.
On 2 May 2018, I attended the ‘Grandchildren’s Access Rights to their Grandparents’ debate in parliament brought by Nigel Huddleston, MP for Mid-Worcester. On the strength of this I decided it was time to create a support group in Berkshire for Grandparents in the same situation as I found myself. Since then I have learnt more about parental alienation (PA) which plays a huge part in grandparent alienation situations.
Berkshire Grandparents Support Group is a safe supportive space for grandparents and close family members who have little or no contact with their grandchildren due to difficult family situations. We aim to support you and help you find practical ways to deal with the impact that having no contact with your grandchildren has on your life and that of your wider family.
We are working on creating a wider knowledge base that you can utilise to support your needs in the form of a website. We are working towards creating a regular stream of professional visitors to the support meetings who will be able to advise you on things such as mental health and legal advice. We have a private Facebook group where you can interact with others in the same situation from all over the world.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) has recently formally recognised PA in its latest documentation published in June 2018 (ICD-11 – QE52.0 Caregiver-Child relationship problems). This recognises that abusive behaviour is sometimes used by the resident parent to discourage a full and healthy relationship with the absent parent and consequently with their wider family of grandparents, great-grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins.
On 30 and 31 August I attended the EAPAP 2018 Conference in London, the first conference of its kind in the UK dealing with parental alienation. It aimed to share as much as possible about parental alienation from the people who are at the forefront of research, education, intervention and information in this field. I left with a deeper knowledge of the problem and how it manifests in children and families as well as the best practice in working to assist recovery.
Berkshire Grandparents meets on the second Thursday of the month at St Nicolas Meeting House, on the corner of West Mills and Oddfellows Road. Our first meeting is Thursday 13 September, 2018. Meeting times are 2pm to 4pm for supportive conversation over a hot drink and cake. Everything spoken of in these monthly gatherings will be completely confidential.
A donation of £5 is requested to cover refreshments and hall hire. To ensure that we have enough refreshments and plenty of meeting space please let us know that you are attending by contacting us in advance (details below).
Parking is difficult so we would advise using the Kennet Centre and walking up the side of St Nicolas Church. You will find St Nicolas Meeting House approximately 200 yards further up West Mills on the left-hand side.
Berkshire Grandparents Support Group will be officially launched at Newbury Town Council Chambers on Friday 12 October 2018 where we will be meeting at 6.30pm. Please contact us via email if you would like to attend this event as dependent upon interest, we may have to do a name draw to be fair in filling the limited spaces available.
Tel: 07444 800 658