Dad Needs a Second Chance

OnlyDads gets frequent emails and telephone calls from dads who have messed up big time and want to turn the corner.

The truth is – it’s an area where we have a big heart but totally limited resources to offer tangible help and support. I’ll spell out a real-life case that is on our desk now. What follows is true. To protect identity, I’ll call him Everyman.

Everyman approached OnlyDads about a year ago. He hadn’t seen his son for over two years. His son, he told me, was now three years old.

“Bob, the truth is I WAS a dreadful partner and a dreadful father. Too many drugs and too much booze…Mum took my son away. I really can’t blame her…”

Mum did indeed take herself and her son to live over 200 miles away. From what Dad has told us, he is right not to blame her!

Six months or so later, and during another brief conversation with this Dad, he uttered the words “I’m sorting my shit out”

…good news!

Here’s the thing. Everyman asked me for another meeting before Christmas. He was a totally, I mean TOTALLY changed man. His request was for OnlyDads to provide him with a roadmap to get from where he was now, to the point that he can start enjoying meaningful contact with his son again.

If I set out just a few of the facts, you will understand the enormous complexity of Everyman’s predicament.

  • His ex does not trust him one inch! He fully appreciates and accepts that years of consistent behaviour will be the only thing he can do, to shift her view of him.
  • Dad his homeless. Sometimes he sleeps in a defunct car, sometimes at mates’ houses.
  • He is vulnerable (as are all recovering addicts). He has his (only) support network where he lives, but also all the old contacts that bring with them, temptation.
  • A few years of caning your body and mind with drugs/alcohol leaves you in a position where you are most unlikely to jump straight into a job!
  • He receives benefits of £67 per week. (if anyone from the Daily Mail is reading, HELLO).
  • He knows that even if he was able to get limited and supervised contact, it would need to be near Mum. How could he afford to get there and back is a genuine question (and one that many dads ask us).

It is impossible to offer Everyman, and the many in similar positions, the support we want to. Moral support and  “you can do it –  your son deserves to have dad in his life” type conversations have their place. But being able to do more would sit well with us.

The reason for me writing this post is complex: But I bumped into Everyman (completely out of the blue) yesterday. He gave me an enormous hug! (upper working-class Welsh geezers aren’t very good at man hugs, but I did my best to return one!)  It was when he said “you are helping me move away from a dark place” which took me back – you know that feeling when you think to yourself, I haven’t really done anything…

…but after all the hugging had stopped, I promised him I would see if we could find him some proper signposting to help him continue his good progress.

Suggestions, names of other organisations, good ideas…all are welcome. Thank you for reading. Bob

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Advertisements

About onlydads

Single Dad living near Totnes in Devon. I founded www.onlydads.org in 2007 and live with my daughters Priya, 14 and Anya 11. I write about single parenting, work, overcoming trials and tribulations and sometimes not overcoming trials and tribulations.
This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

12 Responses to Dad Needs a Second Chance

  1. Arp says:

    First step may well be to get mental health support, from there material support may be far more forthcoming. If he’s young enough, Princes Trust may be a good starting point, or even, YMCA.

  2. Lindy says:

    I wish Everyman the best and hope he gets his life back together. I wish I could do more than offer moral support, I really do. Best of luck.

  3. Hi Bob,

    This mirrors the background of someone I know, so if I might suggest the following:

    1. Get accommodation. Easier said than done, I know, but talk to the Salvation Army, the Cyrenians and Shelter for starters. They’ll almost certainly have the contact numbers for drink and drug rehab/walk-in centres as well. If there’s a St Mungo’s in his area, get in touch with them, too.

    2. Get volunteer work. Charity shops like Sue Ryder will employ ex-offenders, etc., so may be more open to providing current work experience to Everyman.

    3. Get in the habit of turning up for work when you say you will, do the hours and do a little extra.

    4. After a couple of months, ask about the option of getting an NVQ in retail (voluntary sector); some charities will support you getting a work-based NVQ2 assessment which can help you get a paid job. They may also be prepared to write a basic reference after 3 to 6 months.

    5. Obvious and very difficult – avoid the mates that drag you back into the behaviour that got you into this mess.

    6. Approach people from charity shop/Sally Army/Cyrenians etc and ask if they’d be prepared to write character references to support:

    a. Application for bedsit/single bed flat tenancy.
    b. Application for supervised contact with children.

    7. Approach father support group(s) and ask for help/law firm contact to draft a letter to Mum acknowledging previous conduct, listing changes over past 6 months and asking for opportunity to discuss a limited amount of supervised contact in a neutral environment. Be prepared for her to refuse. Ask for chance to at least send birthday cards, even if addressed to Mum at first. Stress desire to work with her for long-term benefit of children.

    Good luck, if there’s more that I can do, let me know.

    • onlydads says:

      All so very helpful Anna.

      I was wondering about getting a ltter to mum. And written by a third party (such as OnlyDads) might help. We have never done this sort of thing before….but it is worth thinking about!

      Many thanks

      Bob

      • Diana Jordan says:

        I think a letter from ‘Only Dads’ is a brilliant idea, much better than one coming from a Solicitor. But Anna is right, Dad has got to build up a bit of a track record first so that you have something positive to report to Mum – preferably with some evidence from someone independent.
        Good luck to you and him, this will take time, tact and patience but can be done.

  4. Carly says:

    Hi, Im an only dads follower on twitter….

    I work with the Princes Trust dealing with vulnerable and disadvantaged teens in Oldham and rochdale….

    Drugs and homelessness are big problems in my line of work but obviously the services I deal with are for under 18s.

    Dealing with homeless services the council where his sons mother lives may be able to help as there is a family connection in the area, more likely to help with accommodation, would also get him away from temptation and make access easier…

    Regarding work if he is claiming benefits he can ask the JobCentre to refer him to the work programme where people there to help him find work and training…

    Real

  5. Carly says:

    Hi, Im an only dads follower on twitter….

    I work with the Princes Trust dealing with vulnerable and disadvantaged teens in Oldham and rochdale….

    Drugs and homelessness are big problems in my line of work but obviously the services I deal with are for under 18s.

    Dealing with homeless services the council where his sons mother lives may be able to help as there is a family connection in the area, more likely to help with accommodation, would also get him away from temptation and make access easier…

    If he is claiming benefits he can get the job centre to refer him to the work programme where there is help getting work exp, and ultimately a job….

    Real can help with drug and alcohol advise….

    Hope that helps….

    Regarding work if he is claiming benefits he can ask the JobCentre to refer him to the work programme where people there to help him find work and training…

    Real

    • onlydads says:

      All good points – and many thanks.

      I may well go with him to the job centre to see what help is available for him.

      Bob

  6. Whoa. That is such a powerful story. He’s getting the best support he can – from you. I wish him the very best of luck and hope that the mother of his child learns to trust him again.

  7. What a moving post. I wish I could help with regards to tips but sadly I can’t, all I can say is that I think you are doing an amazing job from the sounds of it and keep up all the work. Not only will it benefit father’s out their but the future generations, their kids, too.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s