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Unhappy families: don’t stand alone

22 October 2015

Stand Alone, who set up a pilot project last year to offer a lifeline to UK individuals estranged from their parents or children, received £148,741 from Big Lottery Fund last week to expand.

With one in five families affected by total relationship breakdown, Stand Alone chief executive Becca Bland reveals how the grant will help confront one of society’s last taboos.  

group therapyFamily is a huge part of our individual and collective lives and an unconditionally loving, supportive group of relations is idealised in society. It only takes one glance at a newspaper to see this – distraught parents grieve after losing a child, a mum hugs her child as they achieve beyond expectation. As we enter the festive season this intensifies – our advertising campaigns and shop windows deliver desirable images of close and happy families, all enjoying Christmas together.

But can we all relate to this close version of family? There are many in society who don’t have that sense of kinship. Our research with IpsosMORI indicates family estrangement touches one in five families in the UK, indicating millions of us will lose contact with at least one close family member over a lifetime.

Complex experiences

Our family networks can deliver vital financial support and emotional protection and it’s important that they are celebrated. However, those who become estranged are often breaking contact for self-protection. Issues regarding abuse, divorce and re-marriage, honour violence, forced marriage and family rejection connected to gender identity and sexuality are often seen in our community. 61 per cent of young people who became estranged had removed themselves from their dysfunctional situations with little to no statutory help or support.

These complex experiences of family are difficult to disclose and the fear of judgement can lead to isolation. Many are intimidated by the pressure that is placed on reconciliation in society, fearing that their decision to break away from an abusive experience of family will not be understood.


Stand Alone supports people of all ages experiencing estrangement from their family or key family member. We offer a supportive, judgement-free environment, which allows people to talk about their decisions alongside others who have experienced similar.

One client told us: “Attending the group encouraged me to be more open about my family breakdown with other people in my life, when I probably would have hidden it before. I actually found that these people didn’t judge me and my opening up made these relationships become more supportive and meaningful…”

I feel immensely proud that the need for non-judgemental specialist services for those experiencing family estrangement has finally been recognised

To find out more about Stand Alone visit their website

4 Comments leave one →
  1. B Manon permalink
    23 October 2015 8:56 am

    I have been estranged from my family of origin for over a year. Stand Alone has helped me through some tough times. Real life Support is slow and hard to access. I was able to attend face to face group sessions with Stand Alone while on a waiting list for 8 months for counselling. I have been much more able to cope with a very difficult situation thanks to Stand Alone.

  2. 17 December 2015 11:16 pm

    I have been estranged from my family for over 11 years; hear from my daughter when she feels like talking or has time to e-mail me with tells of how busy she is.
    Where can I get some physical and emotional help? I live near Manchester and not in London.
    Please, help this time of the year is excruciating painful, have no one I can talk to.

  3. Big Lottery Fund permalink*
    21 December 2015 8:48 am

    Thank you so much for your comment, that’s really good to hear. Wishing you all the best.

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