Local charity Fegans is offering support to families struggling with the many unforeseen challenges of co-parenting after separation or divorce during lockdown.
Fegans, which provides children’s counselling and parent support services in Kent and the South East, also owns and runs DAD.info, Europe’s largest advice and support website for fathers. Since the lockdown measures came into place in the UK, the DAD.info forum has seen a surge in posts from separated parents relating to disputes over childcare arrangements, postponements of family court hearings and financial pressures. Isolation is also taking its toll on families whose regular arrangements have been disrupted and parents are worried about the impact of the closure of schools on their children’s mental health and wellbeing.
In response Fegans has diverted several of its parent support workers to bolster the team of moderators working on the DAD.info forum. They are available online to answer questions from anyone caring for children during the pandemic, offering advice on parenting issues such as daily routines, behaviour management, coping with stress and self-care. Several volunteers from Restored Lives, a charity which runs courses for people to help them recover from relationship breakdowns, have also now stepped forward to offer emotional support to users of the forum and will be sharing their expertise.
Fegans CEO Ian Soars offers some reassurance to parents who are unable to see their children because they or their children are self-isolating or in quarantine. “Kids are looking for your intent. Yes, you might not be able to physically see your kids right now, but you can work to show them through video calls, letters, pictures any form of communication that your heart is still all theirs. You should find every method available to you to say that you are there for them and then they will remember that.”
Kent-based family mediation practice, Wells Family Mediation have also been offering advice on DAD.info. Family mediator Jane Kerr says that communicating effectively as co-parents is more crucial than ever in these uncertain times: “This will be a challenging time for many families and, more than ever, parents are to be encouraged to lay aside differences and work together to support each other. In the hurly burly of news reports and changing landscapes, we must be mindful of the strain that this is for many around us, including our children of course and their other parent.”
With the family courts in crisis, the expectation upon parents to manage arrangements themselves without looking to court is greater than ever. Family separation raises many issues and, unless there are safety concerns, the encouragement is not to see disputes as legal issues so much as parenting problems which need to be resolved together. The President of the Family Division (who heads up the family justice system) issued a statement last month, in which he stated “the best way to deal with these difficult times will be for parents to communicate with one another about their worries, and what they think would be a good, practical solution.” He also provided overall guidance about child arrangements for separated parents. The full statement has been published on DAD.info.
Free to join, the DAD.info forum offers peer support and is moderated by people with lived experience of separation and divorce. Having navigated the process of separation themselves, moderators can provide a very practical source of information, as well as a much-needed listening ear for those who can feel very isolated.
Note to editors: Fegans CEO Ian Soars is available for interview on request.
For further information from Fegans please contact Anna Dunbar or Ann-Marie Fisher 01892 538288 or firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com
About Fegans: Celebrating its 150th year anniversary, Fegans is a Christian charity that has continually delivered care to children and families according to the needs of each succeeding generation. Today, we counsel children and provide parent support, intervention and training. Combining these disciplines gives Fegans the opportunity to work with families holistically…counselling the child, supporting the parent.
DAD.info is Europe’s largest advice and support website for fathers. It was established in 2008 as a new generation men’s lifestyle channel and the leading voice for Dads with the aim of celebrating the changing role of Dads with engaging, helpful, practical, entertaining resources and content for every stage of their journey. It is home to the largest connected community of active, involved Dads through its interactive forum, providing great peer to peer support and advice for what can be one of the most challenging and rewarding life experiences. DAD.info is run by Fegans, a UK Christian Charity (Reg 209920) that has continually transformed mental health and championed childhood since 1870. www.dad.info