Recently, I was interested to learn about Stand Alone, a UK charity devoted to the issue of estrangement. On the Stand Alone website, they state:
We support people who are estranged from their family or children. Our primary objective is to break down the stigma around estrangement and support estranged people in their daily lives.
The group appears to be very new and taking a very focussed approach to serving the community. I like the fact that they are focussing on providing coping and independence services and strategies to people. I agree with their perspective that the typical first advice given to people when in an estrangement situation is to attempt a conciliation or repair of the relationship. They are challenging this perspective and instead offering the idea that sometimes walking away is the right choice.
I was particularly struck by the story of Shaheen Hashmat, given the religious underpinnings of her estrangement. Is it right to walk away from the possibilities of forced marriage and/or honour abuse/killing? It is, in my opinion.
Estrangement is clearly linked to shunning which some religious groups use as a tool to manage dissenters. Shunning has often been discussed at Living Without Religion groups conducted by CFI Canada.
Like Canada’s Dying With Dignity, it is interesting to observe how a single-issue organization might be effective in identifying and addressing their issue – and how that specialist work can intersect with the work of organizations with a different – and sometimes more broad mandate.