BY NIGEL GORDON
A charity which supports single fathers is set to arrive in Southwark this August, and will add a family law advice clinic to its current services.
The Dads House charity will provide practical support to single dads in Elephant and Castle, with practical help and a listening ear.
The addition of the clinic will be welcome news for single fathers resident in Southwark – the borough’s poverty rate stands at 31 per cent, while the London average is 27 per cent.
Founder William ‘Billy’ McGranaghan set up Dads House in 2008. Billy said: “In London alone there are 20,000 dads who are the main carers for their children, and this number is rising.
“We can’t wait to open our doors at the Elephant and Castle Shopping Centre and continue bringing together dads to share their experiences and receive practical and emotional support.”
The charity offers a lifeline to the 400,000 single fathers in the UK, such as dad-of-four Bruce Deakin (pictured above).
Deakin’s marriage came to an end in 2013, by which point he had given up his full-time job as an office manager.
Bruce, 40, agreed it wasn’t easy to find help specifically for single fathers.
He said: “I had the support of my family, obviously, but other groups always seemed to be aimed towards women, so I always found it hard to make the connection.”
When Bruce eventually heard of Dads House, he started accessing the services.
Dads House was based in Kensington, West London at the time and Billy was in the West Midlands, so accessing the services face-to-face wasn’t possible.
But in Bruce’s case, he received emotional support over telephone calls with Billy.
Bruce said “I came into contact with Billy when I was at a very low point. It was just after the separation. It was always nice to have a bloke to talk to, as us blokes don’t really talk, do we? Let’s be honest.
“With Billy it was different. He put me at ease. He was someone that had already been in my position and it was as if he’d already walked a mile in my shoes.
“He knew what I was up against and he and his organisation supported me when I most needed a supporting hand.”
Bruce is thankful for the positive impact Dads House has had on him and his children – Cerys, 14, Dilys, 13, Malakai, 10, and Tate, seven.
“Billy has been on loud speaker in my car and he’s had all my children singing along to songs while he is on the other end of the phone,” said Bruce.
“He’s encouraging them as much as he’s encouraging me. It’s an all-round package.
“He wants to be your friend, help you, support you, and also be there for the family because essentially that’s what it’s all about – not just providing support for us dads, but also for our children.”
Speaking ahead of Dads House’s imminent move from West to South London, Bruce said: “I think if more men had more friends locally then everything could get slightly easier.
“There aren’t as many organisations specifically for single fathers, so I’m sure this will be welcome news to dads in Southwark as it allows them to get to know other local dads.