A PIONEERING support group is being established in South Tyneside for grandparents who have lost contact with their grandchildren.
It is estimated that more than one million children in the UK are denied contact with their grandparents due to a family breakdown.
That figure is believed to be 200,000 in the North East.
Some grandparents have compared the loss of access as being like a “living bereavement” and children, often confused and upset when contact is broken off, lose access to the support and love grandparents can offer.
Now Genes – with its ethos of ‘uniting grandparents and grandchildren’ – has been established to address the problem in South Tyneside.
The new voluntary group is staging a launch event for grandparents who are experiencing no contact, or intermittent contact, at South Shields Town Hall on Wednesday, May 20, from 2pm to 4pm.
Trustees and volunteers for Genes are already in place and they have received support from a host of services and individuals, including the Grandparents Association in London and Bristol.
The chairwoman of Genes founded the group as a result of her own experience of having lost contact with her grandchildren and has chosen not to be identified as a result.
She has pledged to work with all agencies to raise awareness of the issue.
The chairwoman said: “Children have a right to have contact with all of their family. If this is not allowed, we can see that when they are of an age, they will search for them, as is shown on the TV programmes Long Lost Family and Who Do You Think You Are?
“Genes will offer support to help grandparents to be united with their grandchildren. We will not judge and we will work within child protection procedures. We will lead the way for change, grandparents and children must have a voice.”
Representatives of Gene have thanked all grandparents and grandchildren who took part in a recent survey.
All interested parties are invited to next month’s meeting in the strictest confidence.