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Wednesday
Jan102018

FNF Scotland to launch group in Dundee

 

The group will establish a regular meeting place for parents (fathers or mothers) who are having difficulty  securing stable and consistent arrangements for time with their children after separation or even if they have never lived together. The aim of the monthly meeting is to provide advice and information about the problems they may be experiencing but will also be an opportunity for mutual support and positive encouragement in particular to dads that they have a lot to offer as parents. Around 90% of non-resident parents are fathers.

Ian Maxwell, FNF Scotland National Manager, says, “We are grateful to the Corra Foundation which has provided the funding to start a group covering Dundee, Angus, North Fife and tayside. Some fathers - and grandparents and other family members - have travelled from the area to come to meetings in Edinburgh, Stirling and Aberdeen. We take regular telephone enquiries individuals in Dundee and Tayside so it makes sense to establish a branch here where they can meet and share good parenting advice as well as help each other navigate through problems."

It is mostly but not exclusively dads who attend group meetings. Around 90% of non-resident parents are fathers. However, we also see mothers and members of the extended family like uncles, aunts and grandparents and new partners who can all be deeply equally affected when parents split.

Ian Maxwell says, “There is a wealth of research that shows children do best when there is a stable, loving and reliable relationship with both parents after they have separated. Our aim is to give support to the non-resident parent and his or her family in the effort to make sure the welfare of the children is at the heart of the arrangements they make. It is usually to everyone’s benefit if they can agree a way forward rather than head for the courts though there are many difficult situations when the parent with care refuses to co-operate and the case does end up in court. Our branch members provide emotional and practical support there too.”

The Dundee group will be FNF Scotland's 6th group. There are active groups in Aberdeen, Glasgow, Edinburgh, Stirling and Paisley as well as a monthly skype group for those further afield.

For further information about the Dundee meetings e mail info@fnfscotland.org.

 

Saturday
Dec232017

Holiday arrangements

Our office will be closed until January 8th but phones will be monitored over the holiday period. Good wishes to all our dads, mums, grandparents, new partners, aunts and uncles and thanks to our volunteers, fundraisers  and pro bonol lawyers who have helped over the past year.

Sunday
Dec172017

Boxing Day Carol: the movie

 

This short film was scripted and directed by John Bell, a Dad who is part of Midlothian Sure Start's Dads' Group, funded by Big Lottery Scotland.  If you didn't make it to the world premiere showing in Edinburgh on 16th December, here's a chance to see the film for yourself.


It emerged from a discussion by Dads on the emotional challenges of Christmas. The Dads Coordinator for Midlothian Sure Start, Tim Porteus says, 'The film powerfully recognises the emotional pain of Christmas for parents in this situation, but has an uplifting message about making the best of time they have.'

John Bell is a dad who has additional challenges because of a condition which means he has chronic and disabling pain.  John states, 'The pain I have is another angle I came at this. I've done my best not to allow my physical pain to be an issue for my children. In the same way, the simple message in the film is we understand the emotional pain for parents in this situation, but being a parent is also about putting our children first, and sometimes being creative in how we can do that, even in challenging circumstances.'

The film lasts 30mins and was filmed over three days last year. John's pain levels got too much to be able to edit it for last Christmas, but has managed to complete it just in time for this Christmas.

 

Friday
Dec152017

Christmas survival tips if you're not seeing your kids

Christmas can be the loneliest time of the year for divorced or separated parents. It is the time they most want to see their children but it may not be their turn to have them for Christmas Day. Here are some tips that attendees at our group meetings have suggested.

1 Remember to put the kids first. Even though you are missing them don’t put your distress ahead of their enjoyment. Encourage them to look forward to the next time they’re with you.

2 Try and negotiate with your former partner at least a phone call with your children on Christmas Day so they know you are thinking about them and sharing their excitement.

3 Try and agree with your former partner that it’s fair for the children to have Christmas Day with each of you on alternate years.

4 If you do have them this year don’t go overboard on arrangements. Think ahead about what they’ll enjoy rather than what’s expensive. It’s time together that counts in the long run.

5 Don’t compete on presents with your former partner. Outspending will create friction especially if money is short for both of you. When you have limited time with your children it’s often tempting to try and compensate by extravagant gestures. Don’t. Good cheer now may pay off in the New Year.

6 Keep in mind that your children will remember the time they have with you. Don’t worry that they don’t give you a second thought when they’re not with you. That’s what kids are like.

7 If you don’t have any contact with your kids at all, sit down and write them a letter. Even if you never send it it’ll be your time with them this year.

8 Don’t let yourself get miserable or lonely at home. Make sure you see friends or think about volunteering with some of the organisations that look after others at Christmas.

Friday
Dec152017

Housing benefit barrier to shared parenting

Research from the Cambridge Centre for Housing and Planning documents many of the issues faced by separated parents whose children live with them for less than half the time.  Parents who rely on housing benefit may only be able to take shared accommodation without bedroom space for their children to stay with them.

At present, people out of work or in low-waged jobs can claim housing benefit for up to 100 per cent of their rent. Most single people under 35 in the private rented sector are restricted to the shared accommodation rate (SAR); their housing benefit is set at a level to cover the rent on a room in a shared house. Before 2012, the SAR only applied to those aged 25 or younger. By increasing the SAR to age 35, the government increased the likelihood that non-resident parents would be included.

Key issues raised in the study included:
- Difficult behaviour of other housemates
- Children disturbing housemates
- A lack of space for children to sleep (often sharing the parent’s room)
- Substandard properties
- Landlord rules banning children from visiting properties or staying overnight

These problems have an impact upon children in these families. They are unable to have friends over when staying with their other parent. They may lack lack privacy with other unconnected adults in the accommodation. They may find their relationship with their non-resident parent damaged. The child’s resident parent is also likely to object even though the by doing so they will themselves be affected, with most or all of the overnight care falling to them.

The study suggest various changes in housing provision and benefits that would make things easier for so-called "non-resident parents" who have overnight childcare.

Although the Scottish Government moved to mitigate some of the effects of the bedroom tax many of the problems outlined in this study apply here. It is estimated that 5% of men aged 16-64 are fathers to non-resident children.

FNFS will suggest to the Scottish Government that more could be done to make shared parenting easier for people in rented accommodation or depending on housing benefit.