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Helping Children Comment on Contact

A new leaflet designed to help children comment on both positive and negative apects of contact with the parent they don't live with has been developed by the Scottish Child Law Centre.

Launched at the recent SCLC conference on Listening To Children in Contested Actions and supported by the Family Law Group of the Murray Stable, the leaflet is filled in by a child or young person with assistance from an independent adult helper.

The form has space for the child to note things that make contact good and also things that make it hard, using a "helping hand" design to collect up to five positive and five negative comment.  The form could be used in court proceedings, and could also be used to make comments to the parent they live with or the parent with whom they are having contact.

Contact the SCLC o0n 0131 667 633 or enquiries@sclc.org.uk for further details.


Family Justice Review

Although the Family Justice Review (FJR) relates only to England and Wales, the Families Need Fathers response to the FJR interim report includes many points which could also apply to the Scottish system.

On comments from children:

We must be mindful that if children are informed of their options only via a parent (or other subjective party), they could be placed in a position where they feel they must protect the interests or feelings of that person. Attention must always be paid to the burden that children may find themselves placed under, particularly in the often emotionally volatile environment of the court room.

We believe that professionals engaged in recording the children’s wishes and feelings should undergo training to help them identify cases where a parent has coached or manipulated a child to express opinions in a particular adult’s favour.

On mediation:

There must also be a little wisdom regarding mediation, in that if there is no incentive to reach and maintain a reasonable settlement, why should a parent compromise? With so much uncertainty as to outcome, and some parents being bitter, unhappy and at times vengeful, clearer expectations and outcomes from the outset are in reality most likely to reduce applications to court."

and on contact:

Fortnightly visits are simply inadequate to enable a ‘meaningful’ relationship to develop, as it inevitably precludes a child from being able to experience the holistic care of the parent they do not regularly live with.

The intial FNF response to the FJR is also available.


Consultation on Information From Schools

Families Need Fathers Scotland gave comments on the need to ensure that both parents in separated families receive school information in our response to a recent Scottish Government consultation.

We were pleased to see the following statement in the consultation report, published today by Scottish government.

"There is a need to be inclusive and provide and promote opportunities for communication with parents that might otherwise be overlooked."

Many parents have contacted us about problems in receiving school information, and we are currently studying the practice and procedures of local authorities across Scotland.

Please contact us at scotland@fnf.org.uk if you have any good or bad experiences you feel will be useful in developing this campaign.



Father's Day Newsletter

This issue focusses on Father's Day, with news of two Scottish events and a range of comments about fathers from prominent Scottish personalities, including three of our new MSPs.  Next week we will cover some interesting recent conferences and research results.

That doesn't mean that nothing is happening on the policy front.  At Westminster the Shared Parenting Bill promoted by Brian Binley MP received its second reading, while at Holyrood the new committees met to discuss their programme for the coming year.  FNF Scotland hopes to raise various issues during this session.

And on Father's Day we issued this response to David Cameron's comments comparing "absent fathers" to drink drivers.

David Cameron's comments will have rung very hollow indeed on Fathers Day of all days to the many men (and their extended family) who get in contact with FNF Scotland not because they are absent but because they are excluded - often for no greater reason than that they are inconvenient to the mother of THEIR children who treat contact as a tap to be turned on and off as they feel inclined.

We always encourage these dads not to give up and to focus all the time that it is their kids that count. However it is often dispiriting that the public stereotype, contrary to what Mr Cameron suggests, is already to regard fathers as a group as suspect after separation who have to 'prove' to a range of professionals that they are worth a role in their children's life.

We regard our dads and the efforts they make to remain fully involved with their children, to use Mr Cameron's word,  as "heroic" against the institutional obstacles that work against them. We invite Mr Cameron on his next visit to Scotland to meet with some of them who can explain for themselves.



Father's Day 2011

FNF Scotland members took part in two Father's Day events this weekend. 

Four Glasgow members ran or walked in the Men's Health Forum Scotland Men's 10k in Bellahouston Park on Sunday June 19th.  Here Chris Devenport celebrates a very respectable 62 minutes time.

Congratulations also to Hamish, Tom and Alastair who completed the course in times ranging from under one hour to just under two hours (walking).  As well as giving the t-shirts a good airing, the FNF runners got several name checks for the organisation from the announcers and raised sponsorship money.

Edinburgh FNF members took part in a less strenuous but just as enthralling event on Saturday June 18th. Fathers and their children took part in a storytelling event in the Storytelling centre in the Royal Mile, with the storytellers including Edinburgh group members.

Both events were filmed for the forthcoming FNF Scotland promotional video, and we will preview some of the this on the web site shortly.