Fathers ‘left out’ and are not getting enough help or support

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NEW fathers in Yorkshire are not getting enough support and more should be done to ensure no parent is “left out” when it comes to looking after their children, a leading charity has warned.

Action for Children said almost half of Yorkshire parents, 46 per cent, agree that services for new and expectant parents do not offer enough help and support specifically for fathers.

A poll for the charity also showed more than over a quarter of parents across Yorkshire, 26 per cent, say they have a stronger relationship with their children than their other partner.

The charity, which runs 200 children’s centres across England including sites in Dearne in South Yorkshire, and Mirfield and Dewsbury in West Yorkshire, which include groups specifically for fathers.

Action for Children’s director of children’s services across the North of England, John Egan, said: “A strong relationship between parents and children means they are well prepared to enjoy the good times and weather the bad.

“Building relationships takes time and despite their best efforts bonding doesn’t always happen naturally for parents and children. Many families would benefit from specialist support and we know from our services that dropping in for a chat and attending support groups can help parents learn how to better connect with their children.

“To ensure no parents are left out there should be a joined up approach from antenatal sessions to early year’s activities in children’s centres – and it’s clear that parents think that there should be more to include mothers and fathers as part of that.

“We welcome fathers to all of our services, in many of which we run dad’s groups, and we encourage men to come and have a look at what’s on offer.”

Among those surveyed across England by the charity, one in ten men said they had a weaker relationship with their children than the other parents does, and almost 40 per cent of women said they had a stronger relationship with their children that the other parent.

One father of four from Ravensthorpe in Dewsbury, told the Yorkshire Post that he felt isolated and too embarrassed to seek help after winning sole custody of his children five years ago.

But after being supported by the Dewsbury East Action for Children centre, he has been helped to develop his parenting skills and now feels confident as a single dad.

He said: “When my marriage broke down after 18 years, and I eventually won custody of my children, it was a very difficult time.

“There was a lot to do, in terms of putting boundaries in place, but that’s where the Children’s Centre came in and helped.

“Now it’s really settled, the kids are in a routine, and they are doing really well.”

The family attend the centre two to three times a week, and the father said he’s been helped with everything from the best way to break bad news to advice getting home broadband.

The dad, whose children are aged between eight and 14, added: “The dads’ group is brilliant. It’s a place where we can just get together and talk about stuff, and the kids get the chance to take part in activities or games. It’s a support network.

“More should be done to publicise these groups, but its down to the parents too find out about them and get involved.”

For more information on Action for Children’s fathers’ groups visit www.actionforchildren.org.uk.