We thought it would be important at this juncture just to step back and look at what has been achieved so far:
Established in 2007, we are a national on-line support and signposting service for parents who are going through or been through separation/divorce. Our core ethic – to provide free, accurate, and easily accessible professional advice to parents whatever their background, ethnic group, sexual orientation or family set-up.
We currently offer:
- Sign-posting to a range of professionals including family solicitors, mediators and counsellors.
- Up-to-date articles covering issues of interest to mums & dads including family law, finance and parenting.
- A Panel of Experts; a team of national professionals who offer free advice on key issues including: housing, family law, benefits & welfare, drugs & alcohol, debt, and relationships.
- Support group(s) for fathers
Facts & Figures:
- Websites receive between 8,000 to 11,000 visitors per month
- OnlyDads Blog has had 37,000 visitors in the first 10 months and over 1,050 comments on various articles
- Websites receive (on average) one question every hour. Weekends are our busiest period.
- Twitter OnlyDads has over 5,400 followers and OnlyMums over 1,600.
- Dad’s Group on average we will get between 6-8 dads turning up at each meeting. All through word-of-mouth. We have not marketed these groups.
- Lone Parent Surgery advice was offered to c80 parents, on a range of issues, at our first pilot. Particularly noticeable was the support we got from the professionals (CAB, Job Centre, Housing Officers, etc) who attended.
What we have learnt over the past five years:
The Panel of Experts has been a great success. Through this service we have been able to get a much better understanding of the issues parents face. Questions are anonymous. This allows those using our service to be open – giving us valuable insight into the reality of the repercussions of family break-up.
The real success has been with dads. There are many resources for mums but precious few for dads. What we have learnt is that men often find it difficult to make that first move, to ask for help and to talk about what they are going through. The Panel of Experts allows them to at least take this all-important first step.
Recognising the importance and the response to the Panel of Experts by dads, a pilot support group was set up offering dads an opportunity to meet and talk. This has also been a very valuable learning experience. Fathers were invited to come to a meeting point (a pub) where they would feel comfortable and talk about what they were going through in an informal setting. Fathers have now come and gone through this group; they have given support to each other and moved on. The group has been very informally facilitated by a volunteer. A second group is starting in another area, with another three groups in the pipeline. Again, like the Panel of Experts, the support groups add a further dimension to the collection of vital information as to the reality of issues faced by parents, therefore enabling us as an organisation to provide a better service.
What makes us unique in the market?
- We are not gender specific
- We have no political/campaigning stance
- We don’t define ‘single parent’
There is no clearly defined prescription for what we do. Both the founders have been single-parents, we know that quality advice helps; we also appreciate that such advice needs to be easily accessible. Offering a platform for Dads to seek advice is central to what we do – so too, offering websites that are “bright and cheerful”. More than anything else, we strive to listen to and respond to all feedback. This keeps us up to date with what our client-base is actually looking for.
The personal bit:
We have been resolute in following some core principles.
- We recognise that the internet is replete with half-baked (hippy-dippy) advice within our market place. We stick to professional articles and advice only.
- We took a lot of advice on issues like “accessibility”. Our websites are praised for their user-friendly design. This is very important to our client base. Our Panel of Experts proves that we are reaching all sections of society.
- We “listen”. To put it simply, our organisations develop in response to what the market wants. This process of learning makes us sure that our core work (see above) moving forward is exactly what’s needed.
Lots more work is the short answer. All the above tells us we have just scratched the surface. We hope that with the support and governance of our Trustees (announcements will follow) we will be better placed to offer more help and support moving forward.
Wish us luck!
Bob Greig and Rebecca Giraud – April 2012