Running OnlyDads brings us into contact with many individuals and charities supporting single parents. Gingerbread is an organisation that is really working hard at the moment to reach out and support single parents across the UK. I will let them explain more about the work they do…
…”It seems like every day brings a new headline about single parents. But they’re not like any single parents I know. These parents are ‘lazy’, ‘scroungers’, ‘unfit’ – they’re ‘bad for Britain’.
Like most of us who actually raise a child alone, or know someone who does (and given that one in four households is now headed up by a single mum or dad, it would be difficult not to), these outdated stereotypes couldn’t be further from the reality. However, the fact that they’re still so powerful can make single parents feel very isolated, which in turn makes it harder for them to find support.
That’s where websites like Onlydads and organisations like Gingerbread come in. At Gingerbread, we think single parents do a brilliant job of bringing up their families, often under difficult circumstances. But when it comes to sorting the practical side of life out, we can all do with a little advice sometimes. So we’re here for single parents when they do.
Gingerbread is the charity which works nationally and locally, for and with single parent families, to improve their lives. We provide expert advice, practical support and campaign for single parents on the issues that matter to them.
Our website is packed full of useful information and advice which single mums and dads can access whenever they need. Our library of factsheets covers topics ranging from benefits and tax credits for single parents to looking after your emotional wellbeing.
To make it easier for single parents to get all the advice they need in one go, we’ve grouped together many of our factsheets into handy email advice packs – that’s all the key information about topics such as making arrangements for child maintenance, or advice on looking for work, sent straight to your inbox in just a couple of clicks. We also run regular online advice sessions to allow single parents to chat live to an expert adviser and get answers to their questions quickly and at their convenience.
Gingerbread also runs lively online forums where single parents can chat, share experiences and get support. We have over 32,000 members who, as well as having access to our forums, receive a monthly e-newsletter, information about local friendship groups in their area, and special offers and discounts to help make family life more fun.
If you need practical advice about a specific problem, such as finding out your eligibility for benefits or discussing contact arrangements, sometimes it’s better to talk in person about your particular circumstances with an expert. The Gingerbread Single Parent Helpline is there to ensure single parents get the information that’s right for their family. Call 0808 802 0925 to speak to an adviser for free and in confidence.
Gingerbread also understands that, just because single parents are all raising children alone, it doesn’t automatically follow that they have the same lives and concerns. We value the diversity of family life and want to make sure single parents’ voices are heard – honestly, fairly and in all their variety. It’s how we bring about change through our campaigns and how we ensure our advice services reach as many people as possible.
From talking to our members, we found that many single dads in particular found it difficult to find the information and advice relevant to their situation and sometimes felt like other single parents viewed them differently. This made for an isolating experience which, given that one in ten single parents in the UK is a single dad, didn’t need to be the case.
That’s why in December 2011, we launched a new section of our website specifically for single dads, to provide expert advice and support on the issues that matter to them, and help them connect with other dads like them.
The pages cover subjects such as a becoming a single dad after a break-up or divorce, coping with bereavement, managing work and benefits and making practical arrangements for day to day life with your family. There are also stories from other single dads on their experiences of the challenges (and joys!) that being a single parent brings, and links to our active online forums where you can chat to other mums and dads in a similar position.
Being a single parent is, without a doubt, one of the toughest jobs there is, but it can also be incredibly rewarding if you have the right support in place to help you when you need it. As one single dad told us after reading our single dads webpages, it can make all the difference: “there is very little out there for us dads and it’s nice to get support instead of just odd looks.”
You can find out more about Gingerbread by clicking on the links below: