Magic is a shift in perception, they say. There’s been a lot of magic around lately as my female friends, colleagues and peers have started to feel like it’s OK to share their experiences of being a female in London. It’s been sad to read how we as women have adapted to avoid certain male-bodied beings, who had either stalked, harassed or assaulted us.

So it was a strange twist of fate that in the middle of this mass disclosure of female experience, that a man attacked me in my local park last week. I was going to see a house to buy, walking in broad daylight through a leafy area where kids play and mums gathered with pushchairs. I heard the words ‘you fucking cunt’ behind me. It was a male voice. I didn’t turn around, I just kept walking and my subconscious chalked it down to someone being drunk in the daytime. It got louder and louder and he repeated it —…


There is no doubt that estranging myself from my parents was an act of self-love and self-protection. Conversely, the experience of living without these two key people in my life has been an almost constant challenge to my sense of self-worth and self-acceptance. I recognise too, that for those who were disowned, or who are in the process of reconciliation, our sense of self-worth can be battered if we are constantly re-rejected.

Sometimes the issues that led to estrangement are positioned as just your problem or in some cases we are told they didn’t happen at all. If we internalise…


This week are releasing the first few episodes of our exciting new podcast series on family estrangement. The first episode is available now

Over the past seven years, tens of thousands of people have written to me personally, and via Stand Alone. These messages are often long and sometimes are incredibly hard to read: they give a lot of detail around the emotional pain, frustration and isolation caused by family estrangement.

There is a lot of thanks coming my way, which is really touching, but most commonly, these messages end with a kind of plea for help — sometimes for…


Over the last seven years, I have been writing, talking and giving presentations about young people without family behind them as they move into, and through, higher education.

At the heart of campaigning is educating, however, it’s the type of education that takes place in non-traditional settings, such as the offices of Student Loans Company or over a coffee at an MSPs office. In any meeting, there’s always one key fact that you want somebody to understand, and there’s often something that, at the back of your mind, you want in response.

I want to take you back to the…


Dear Gran,

I’m writing to you after visiting Yeadon today. I brought Athar to walk around the tarn. It was frozen and snowy and it seemed so much smaller than I remember — no Concord to spot this time. We took a little trip down Yeadon high street, and then we walked back to your house along Rufford. Even though someone else lives there now, it’s still feels like your house.

This letter is so hard because you are gone.

I wanted to write to say sorry that I never got a chance to say goodbye to you. It was…


By Becca Bland

There are numerous asks for donations from many different causes, appeals and charities over the festive period. It truly is the time for giving. Even as someone who works in the third-sector, I find it hard to choose between so many worthy appeals that flash up on my timelines.

I’m not going to make it any easier for you, by asking you to consider giving to the charity that I founded, Stand Alone.

As a small charity, with an income of under 250K, we aren’t able to fund billboard appeals, and we can’t pump tens of thousands…


If you have experienced estrangement from a family member, there is most likely a time when you have felt judged, different or isolated. It doesn’t happen to everyone, but it does happen to most of us.

Maybe you felt openly judged when somebody said something about their own super happy family holiday, or when someone’s face drained of colour when you told them you weren’t in touch with your daughter. Maybe it’s more insidious, like feeling different from the TV ads that feature close, loving families at Christmas time, or struggling to write a gushing Mother’s Day card. …


During my twenties, I spent a substantial amount of time living in Barcelona. Freedom of movement and my EU passport were my ticket to live in one of Europe’s most multicultural and enchanting cities. I taught English, wrote, and refined my Spanish skills.

Inevitably, during that time of living El Born and Gracia, within one of the wealthiest municipalities in Spain, I learned a great deal about the idea of Catalan independence. I made Catalan friends and colleagues, who sit on all sides of this national crisis, and good friends who live in Catalunya from other regions of Spain and…


The whole thinking behind family in the HE system seems entirely flawed: completely unrepresentative of family life as it actually is, more structured around family life as we unrealistically aspire it to be. That is close, in contact, and economically supportive.

Today is a happy day at Stand Alone: we are celebrating the first birthday of the ‘Stand Alone Pledge’. This important anniversary has prompted me to have a retrospective look at how far we have come since the launch of our project a year ago today.

We first devised of the pledge to kick start UK Universities into thinking…


I dearly wish that we lived in a world without the need for family estrangement. People contact my organisation, Stand Alone, everyday with glum and lonely stories of family relationship breakdown. These people are mothers, fathers, sisters, children or often a multitude of these family roles. But more importantly they are from all ‘angles’ of estrangement: there are people who felt they had no choice but to cut contact with a family member, and there are those people who feel they have been left behind.

Commonly, when we speak of estrangement, the public assume that those who cut contact are always the young, the adult children. And equally, people imagine that it is only parents that possess the feeling of being left behind. There is no such archetype in our community — parents choose distance from their adult children, and many adult children have been ostracised or rejected by their close family. The first question that arises when I talk to others concerns the morality behind estrangement. When is it ‘right’ to walk away and reject a family member? …

Becca Bland

Founder and Chief Executive of @UKstandalone. I write about family estrangement for @HuffPostUK @Guardian. All views on Medium are mine…

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store