Stand Alone's support groups have helped thousands of people who no longer have contact with their family or a key family member. We help people to come together and talk to others who have had difficult experiences with family, and break down the emotional hardship and social isolation that surrounds being out of contact or unsupported.
We are a small charity that was founded in 2012 after our CEO started to write articles in the national press about the isolating experience of not having contact with family. The articles attracted many others who were in the same position, which formed the beginning of the charity. We are the only UK charity, and indeed worldwide charity, working on this issue.
Family estrangement and disownment touches 1 in 5 families in the UK, yet most of our beneficiaries feel as if they are the only person who does not have a close, loving, accepting and supportive group of people to call family. Many have struggled, often not telling those who are closest to them about their experience and through fear or judgment.
Our beneficiaries are from a wide range of backgrounds: some have survived abuse, or have not conformed to strongly held family values and religious beliefs, or have been distanced through coming out as LGBT+, many have escaped forced marriage, or have been distanced by their adult children after divorce or marriage. It is a common misconception that all families are a supportive and healthy function in our lives, and many people need to stand alone to survive, or have been forced to do so against their will.
Our support groups help people to break the shame and stigma that surrounds this issue, by meeting others in their local area who can listen, understand and form new support networks and people to call family. Furthermore, our impact work shows they have a strong positive impact on the emotional wellbeing of those who take part. Our beneficiaries have gone on to form their own groups and networks, which have helped them to feel more supported, connected and less isolated.
Here's what some of them had to say:
"Stand Alone is needed and it's required. It helps to shatter the myths that all families are like the Waltons or the Brady Bunch. There is a lot of fall out in families and people feel they can't talk about it. Fear of estrangement can keep people in a situation they shouldn't be in for instance when there is domestic violence."
"I think more access to services would be great, and if Stand Alone could be bigger and more visible this would be great too. People need to know there is support out there. I thought it was just 'my problem' before I heard about Stand Alone. Now I know there are lots of people in the 'same boat' and that is such a relief."
"In the group, we all shared stories and connected across cultures. There was an Indian lady there and every time she spoke it could have been me speaking. There was a commonality of issues across a diversity of people."
"It is a charity that I wish had been there many years ago as there is a huge gap for it, so many people are affected by family estrangement and so many people feel silenced by it and desperate, whilst others are only just about holding it together. The team that has been put together are just amazing and there is no monetary value big enough to show how thankful I am for them."
"If I paid off my mortgage it would be a huge weight off my mind. This is what Stand Alone made me feel like. It lifted a weight off my mind."
Everyday, we receive hundreds of emails, asking us to bring our support groups to different localities around the country. After four years of working in London, Sheffield and Newcastle, we want to bring our groups to Manchester, Liverpool, Brighton and Bristol. We have the facilitators and a keen bunch of volunteers ready to help us, but now all we need is the funds to kick start our work there.
Can you help us?