Bradford Council's head of children's services offers support to lone dads (From Bradford Telegraph and Argus)
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Bradford Council's head of children's services offers support to lone dads
7:00am Tuesday 8th January 2013 in News
The head of Bradford Council’s children’s services is fighting for the rights of lone fathers.
Coun Ralph Berry, executive member for children’s services, said after a few single dads had contacted him for help, he decided to set up a meeting so they could air their views.
He said: “It feels like an invisible and an unrecognised group. There are hundreds of them out there, more than people think, and I want to know whether our services are delivering in the best way they possibly can.”
Coun Berry, himself a father of three and a stepfather of four, said the meeting would be at a local children’s centre and would be a chance for single dads to get together and tell him about any problems they have had with local public services.
He said: “I’ve had a few people contact me over Twitter and e-mail over what the services are, and I’ve got the details of who’s providing what over the city.
“I thought, seeing as I’m a dad myself and I used to work with families, I’ll set up a meeting in one of the Sure Start centres and see what that tells me.”
Coun Berry (Lab, Wibsey) said meetings also had the advantage of bringing together people with similar experiences, who could offer each other peer support.
He said in particular, he was interested in hearing from men who had main custody of their children, but might look at the experiences of fathers sharing custody at a later date.
Coun Berry said some of the lone dads who had contacted him had complained of feeling “invisible”.
He said: “In general terms, it’s about not feeling terribly supported, feeling invisible, but there are also some issues over how welfare reform might impact on them.”
Coun Berry, who used to work as a probation officer and social worker, said problems were sometimes caused by a lack of access to legal aid.
He said: “The majority seems to be about services being friendly and supportive and catering to the needs of fathers.”
Coun Berry said while all children’s centres had to cater for lone fathers, sometimes men were reluctant to use the services.
He said: “There’s sometimes some slight embarrassment or a feeling that it isn’t necessarily welcoming for them. There’s all sorts of issues.
“And the circumstances where a man has ended up being a primary carer – there’s often a story to that.”
Coun Berry said the date and venue of the meeting was yet to be decided.