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Paddling across Scotland for FNF

Simon Shaw is kayaking the length of the Caledonian canal (60 miles across the width of Scotland) in August in support of Families Need Fathers.

This is a personal issue for him, as his parents split at an early age and without the support of Families Need Fathers he might not have been able to see so much of his own father or grandparents.

His father Andy has been an active member of the Glasgow FNF group, and he suggested FNF as a charity when Simon first proposed to do this sponsored activity.

We'll keep in touch with Simon as he prepares for the event and report on how his trip turns out.  If you want to support his efforts, Simon can be sponsored on his Justgiving page

FNF Scotland is very grateful for the support that we receive from people who are prepared to run, walk or paddle on our behalf, with hundreds of pounds already raised this summer by FNF runners in the Men's 10k in Glasgow on Father's Day.

For those who don't fancy paddling across Scotland, we're planning to enter an FNF group into Pedal for Scotland - a cycle ride from Glasgow to Edinburgh on 11th September.  Contact scotland@fnf.org.uk for more details.


Cross-border relationship support issues

Edinburgh East MP Sheila Gilmore asked DWP minister Maria Miller how parents will be supported to maintain relationships after separation, in connection with the Government's plans for child support reform, and queried whether existing budgets for this support in England are adequate.

The minister admitted that the current child support schemes can entrench conflict and they do not encourage parents to work together in the best interests of their children.

She added "We are taking steps to draw on a range of support to help parents collaborate to reach family-based arrangements for child maintenance wherever possible, which we believe will help the ongoing involvement of both parents in a child’s life after separation."

Given that the funding and support that Maria Miller mentioned will not apply in Scotland, we await with interest for signs that the Scottish Government is adapting their spending plans to coincide with child maintenance reform.  Or the reverse.


Summer Holiday Pawns

Separated parents are using their children as pawns in disputes over new partners during the summer holidays, according to family lawyers, who claim that up to three quarters of disputes over residence or contact with children are the result of rows about former partners’ new relationships.

The Manchester-based firm Pannone says that the majority of complaints are made by parents worried about being replaced in their children’s affections.

Cara Nuttall, an associate at Pannone, said: “Spending time with parents during the summer holidays increases the likelihood of children meeting their mother or father’s new partner and, therefore, the potential for problems.

“These situations are so emotive that parents sometimes don’t act or think in a rational manner.”  Pannone also believes that up to 30 per cent of complaints about residence or contact with children are in fact attempts to stop former partners making a fresh start.

Ms Nuttall said: “In our experience and that of colleagues across the country, the problem often lies more with the parents than the children involved.  Even though it may be difficult to do, parents need to focus on a child’s best interests.”  (Irish Times)


Child Maintenance Future Priorities

the Child Maintenance and Enforcement Commission (CMEC) has published its Delivery Plan for 2011/12

The Commission's Delivery Plan for 2011/12 sets out the achievements and highlights from 2010/11 and our priorities for the year ahead.  The plan also lays out the performance indicators that the Commission is proposing to use, which replace the ministerial targets used in previous years.

In the report, the new CMEC chief executive comments: "during 2011/12 the Commission will test a set of interventions to help parents make family-based arrangements and also consider child maintenance in the context of wider issues faced at separation, through the Child Maintenance Options service. This will provide evidence on what works, to inform the development of integrated family support services in the future."

This intention seems good, but we will reserve judgement until there is a clearer indication of how ii will be done, given past failures in this area.  FNF Scotland will be taking part in a Scottish stakeholder meeting with CMEC shortly, let us know if you have any issues to be raised.


Hunger Strike and the Brownies

Matt O'Conner's hunger strike outside David Cameron's house hasn't forced News International off the front pages yet, but it has prompted some public discussion of the issues.

The Call Kayephone-in on Radio Scotland devoted most of their programme on Tuesday 12th July to the topic of fathers and contact problems - followed by a rather more light hearted item on the Brownies!

Thanks to an early morning call from an alert FNF member, Ian Maxwell from FNF Scotland managed to join the discussion alongside Matt O'Connor, ex-agony aunt Joan Burnie, Errin Pizzey, and Morag Driscoll from the Scottish Child Law Centre.

It was an opportunity to mention the unequal position fathers find themselves in contact disputes, having to prove their worth when arguing to see their children.  The importance of shared parenting was stressed alongside consideration of the interests of children, enforcement of contact orders, and new ways of consulting children about contact.

Listen to the programme for the first hour, with the FNF Scotland contribution from about 20 minutes in.