Living in London and working with families at the point of separation and beyond, I work with many dads who are struggling to see their kids. I also regularly, on my trips through town, see young men who are homeless and sometimes I stop for a chat to find out what led to them being out on the streets. Inevitably there are stories of family separation, loss of the family home and severed relationships with children. With absolutely no statutory help available for dads in this position, those who find themselves outside of the family unit are, without the help of family and friends, destined for a life of sofa surfing, hostels or other even less suitable places to live. I have heard of dads in this position living in garages and the garden shed. From here it is incredibly difficult for them to continue to maintain relationships with their children, for who would want their children to know that they are in that position? Housing for dads after separation is a critical issue and one which leads to despair for too many.
I was excited therefore, when I received news of a project in London which is specialising in helping dads in these circumstances. DadsHouse is a charity founded by Billy McGranaghan, himself once a lone parent who found it hard when he was alone and wanted to help other dads in his shoes. DadsHouse runs many projects but the most recent is particularly special because it helps dads who are homeless with temporary accommodation, which in turn gives them a chance to build relationships with their children. This is, according to McGrahaghan, the first housing project in Europe to assist dads in these circumstances to rebuild their lives and reconnect with their children. Having a place to live and to be with their children is a first step on a long road to recovery for many dads. From my perspective it is revolutionary in its compassionate drive to help families over the kinds of crisis points which cause children to lose a loved parent.
With recent commentary in the House of Commons debate on the rates of male suicide, what McGranaghan is doing is a real step in the right direction in my view in bringing practical help to resolve the underlying issues that dads who face family separation have to go through. For these dads, talking about suicide is less important than addressing those issues which cause them to enter into the spiral of despair and hopelessness which leads to loss of life. DadsHouse has provided help to single dads for many years and is now helping all dads to be the best they can be, offering help which is delivered in the way that really makes a difference to their lives.
William McGranaghan founded Dads House in 2008. A registered charity, it aims to offer support to single fathers, most recently through the launch of its new project HOFF (Homes For Fathers and Families) which aims to provide accommodation and support, for fathers looking after children.