In my up-coming feature looking at the underrepresented community of stay-at-home Dads in London, I caught up with Billy McGranaghan, founder of Dadshouse, an organisation which provides dads with a social outlet and place to voice their concerns, whether it is in finance, parenting or even sexual relationships.
Billy, with his thick Scottish accent, said that Dadshouse is for all dads whatever their background, even those who have recently come out of jail.
Speaking from his experience as a single, cash-strapped Dad, he said not enough is being done to help Dads who are over the age of 25, those older stay-at-home dads whose futures are invested in the lives of their children. The government is only funding established single-parenting schemes such as 'Gingerbread' that provide counselling and help for parents. Schemes like 'Gingerbread', he said, only help a minority of single parents who are young and have their futures in front of them, that the funding they get from the government is solely for this and not for the help of older dads looking for companionship through social activity.
Billy said that organisations such as 'Fathers for Justice', had a detrimental effect on his charity as people automatically draw the link between single or stay-at-home dads to 'Fathers for Justice', whose protesters when in action, have drawn widespread media attention and criticism from their protests, which has disrupted public transport and emergency services including scaling the walls of Buckingham Palace and protesting on the balcony of the UK foreign office in 2005.
Dads often suffer a crisis of masculinity, he commented, particularly stay-at-home dads who rely on their partner as the breadwinner, finding themselves reluctant to ask for money from the partner, which goes against their natural instinct as a male, to be able to provide, to be self-sufficient and a role model to their child. He also said that some stay-at-home dads don't like to be asked about budgeting and what the money is being spent on to help the family, the psychology of being a male in a society where the growing percentage of role reversals means that the mum is away working, earning and providing.
Dads need a centre, he said, a place where they can meet and socialise, have a coffee or a drink.
Dadshouse provides this outlet, with opportunities and events for dads to interact with each other and with their children, including cooking classes and 5-a-side football matches amongst other activities. Dads long for companionship, someone to talk to and have a coffee with after they have dropped their child off at school.
A lot of self-employed professionals become stay-at-home dads, journalists etc, thus allowing dads more time to write or blog. Yet Billy said it was hard work being a full time carer.
It is more difficult for men, he said, as they have no physical network to speak to each other. Dadshouse remains one of the few organisations that allow men to share in their experiences of being a stay-at-home or single dad.
Dadshouse ultimately is grounded in the belief that they can help someone, help dads in providing a place to gather and talk about their experiences in a relaxed and social environment.
Visit Dadshouse website http://www.dadshouse.org.uk/ for information about the charity and its plans for this year.