Direct Mediation Services

Guest blog: Grandparents 4 Contact

Do you think you might be entitled for Legal AID?

A few words from Hilary Sharpe, Grandparents 4 Contact.

I know we are only in March of a new year, but somehow it feels like a continuation of the last one. Despite the constant media hype and the Covid-19 vaccine, it still ‘feels as if’ things are the same. Well, I guess in some areas they are the same with lockdown.  However, during the first lockdown I set about doing something I felt had been needed for some time. As a former social work consultant who had spent most of my professional life involved in supervision of contact, it always struck me as odd that grandparents were never really considered when it came to contact. Why not? Well I think there were, and still are, a number of reason. The law does not help as legislation is more about families and children, which is then interpreted as parents and children. This is turn leads to the focus of contact on the attachment between parent and child, rightly so as the issues of attachment were, and still are, as relevant and important today. Particularly as we know so much more about brain development in the early years of childhood. I also think, and I have no real evidence for this, just my own observations and from talking to grandparents, there was a general belief grandparents felt it was not their role to intervene, they felt they had no voice. If they did intervene it felt like an uphill struggle, does this sound familiar? So during those long months of the first lockdown, plus retirement from social work, gave me the ideal opportunity to put together thoughts and ideas I had held for some time.


Support / Training Programme

What follows is the end result of that lockdown, but also the beginning, I hope, of a unique support/training programme for grandparents, which is also suitable for kinship carers and, we have recently discovered, fathers, whether single or in a relationship. The Father’s programme is shorter and we offering this as trial for twelve months. Our ‘gut feeling’ is that there is a need for such a programme, but we need to know for ‘real’ if this is so, hence the shorter programme.

What will I learn when I go on the training?

We are not offering a generic programme but a very unique training/support programme. You won’t have to pick through lots of content to find the bits relevant to your situation. The delivery and how we develop each session is the same for both programmes.  Each individual ninety-minute session, of this seven session on-line programme, is exclusively designed to meet the specific needs of the individual participant. Our programme is not a group event but delivered individually to those taking part.  A trainer delivers the programme and stays with participants for the duration of their programme.  Every session is developed to meet those areas you find the most difficult to understand, need clarification or wish to explore areas in greater depth. If you wish you can develop a programme which combines your needs as well as some of the areas we offer.

We can also explore issues around the supervision of contact, often a major element in any contact concerns.  We know from experience this can put you in the position of having to act as both supervisor, grandparent and parent to their adult children in these situations. All with very little guidance or understanding of what is expected of them.

We often hear grandparents, in particular, but not exclusively, express frustration as they feel they are being out manoeuvred and, not given credit for their own views/concerns, or indeed, the relationship between grandchildren and grandparent. The general feeling is their involvement in the life of their grandchildren is not seen as relevant or necessary. This is despite research showing the opposite to be true.  Something that as grandparents, you would have ‘felt and known’ all the time.  But did you have the research evidence to back up your feelings – I suspect not. And this is why I think grandparents and professional often don’t see eye to eye. Professionals will, or should, work from an evidence and relationship basis whilst grandparents work from their ‘gut’, experience and emotions that all go together to form a family. It is also difficult for families to admit to difficulties that are either present or have been in the past. The end result is deadlock, mistrust and no real communications between professionals, grandparents and grandchildren.  Nothing moves forward, frustration and anger just continues to grow.


Our aims

Our programme aims to help make sense of the information you receive from others, and how you can relay your own beliefs and needs to others.  We offer time to explore why and how action is taken and the possible reasons for why action is taken, or not. Many, many grandparents and fathers, feel parental alienation is a massive issue which is why we explore this throughout the programme.  We believe it is not helpful to explore this one area in isolation as this term has many interpretations.

Our programme gives aims to provide you with the confidence as well as the ability to voice concerns, to challenge and seek clarification from others in a concise and comprehensive manner. Ultimately to have the confidence and knowledge for your voice to be heard in whatever the circumstances are.


For Grandparents and Kinship carers our programme is accredited by The CPD Group. Participants receive 11 credit points upon completion of their programme. Grandparents may wish to use this as evidence of their knowledge and understanding of their circumstances if they are working with other professionals.

The Father’s programme is not accredited, simply because we are offering a shorter programme and for a trail period of twelve months. Those taking part will receive a Certificate of Participation which will detail those areas explored during their programme.

As far as we are aware, no other training/support programme offers an individualised programme for those undertaking any training/support programme.



If you enjoyed this blog post or found it interesting, check out our other posts. One you might be interested in is UK Grandparents Rights, our blog about family matters has many articles on issues commonly face.

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