This is a guest post by Bernadette Lynass of Family Mediation South Lanarkshire to mark today’s launch of the #theyregrand Twitter campaign.
Relationships Scotland works to support all family relationships and our Connecting Generations project focuses on supporting grandparents to maintain meaningful, on-going relationships with their families.
There are an estimated 14 million grandparents in the UK according to Grandparents Plus. This can be an incredibly rewarding experience, bringing the opportunity to support your children and enjoy spending time with your grandchildren, without some of the responsibilities that come with being a parent. However, we know that this is not the case for all grandparents. There are a significant number of grandparents in Scotland who are denied contact with their grandchildren, and there are grandparents who provide kinship care for their grandchildren when their parents are not able to look after them.
Relationships Scotland has come together with Parenting Across Scotland and filmmaker Martin Smith to produce a series of four short films giving grandparents a voice to express what’s important to them through sharing some of their own experiences (you can watch them all below).
We want to promote the importance of positive grandparental involvement to the well-being of all generations within families and spark conversation around what support is available to grandparent kinship carers and grandparents denied contact with their grandchildren.
We know that grandparents can provide crucial emotional and practical support for the whole family, particularly during difficult times, such as when experiencing financial hardship or family separation, yet an estimated 1 million children in the UK are unable to see their grandparents because of family separation (Grandparents Plus)
Working with grandparent kinship carers, we understand the huge life changes that can come with this role. These grandparents can experience a number of practical and emotional challenges as a direct result of their caring role yet often feel that this is overlooked and that there is a lack of support available to them.
Our films look at some of the challenges faced by grandparents and their families, but also celebrate the contribution that grandparents make to family life and the sense of well-being this role can bring.
In our experience of supporting grandparents we are often told that they do not feel adequately represented within our society. The families that participated in our filming not only wished to speak out for their own families but also for those grandparents who don’t feel able to. We hope that their films will be widely shared and help contribute to a better understanding of grandparents roles and increased support when needed.
With an ageing population we must consider what is important in later life by asking people what matters to them and encourage innovation in responding to these needs.
As part of our work in supporting intergenerational kin relationships we plan to have a day celebrating grandparents on Twitter. On 13 June we will be tweeting using the hashtag #theyregrand. We would love it if your organisation and supporters would join in our celebration by:
1. Sharing a memory of their grandparents.
2. Tweeting about what influence their grandparents had on them.
3. Tweeting about what it’s like to be a grandparent.