Contact a Family
Contact a Family is a national organisation that provides support, advice and
information for families with disabled children. They've just launched a new
Dads Zone for ‘out of loop’ fathers
with disabled children.
We hear how two fathers have coped with their disabled children and how Dads
Zone can help them.
Whether it’s drooling over the latest sports car or checking out the football
results, we all know that Dads love surfing the internet – and Dads with
disabled children are no different! That’s why national charity, Contact a
Family, has launched Dads Zone, an area of its website dedicated entirely to
Dads, which includes a new facility for Dads to contact each other on-line, plus
other information on CD, tape and as a factsheet.
The charity, which provides advice, information and support to all families with
disabled children, says there is a pressing need for information targeted
exclusively at Dads.
“Because medical or other appointments often happen when Dads are at work, Dads
can feel that they’re out of the loop,” explained Jill Harrison, Contact a
Family’s Director of External Affairs. “And because services – toddler groups,
or drop-ins at the surgery – usually cater mainly for Mums, Dads who care for
their children at home don’t fare much better.”
Written entirely from a father’s point of view, Dads Zone provides information
that’s specific to Dads, and highlights how Dads can use existing services in a
way that suits them. For instance, Dads can dismiss support groups as talking
shops for Mums, but one set of Dads started a football team for children in
their group, and as a result made valuable friends who had ‘been there too.’
For Rob Leonard, whose son Matthew is severely brain damaged, getting direct
information from the medical profession was the issue.
“They seemed to find talking to me inhibiting, and preferred to talk directly to
my wife,” he said. On the other hand, Rob found Contact a Family’s employment
rights information invaluable in negotiating to work part time.
As well as information on support groups, and the ability to get directly in
touch with other Dads through the new Making Contact facility on website, Dads
Zone has information on fathers’ rights, employment rights, benefits and money
matters, relationships and family life. And while the web based material can be
accessed at any time of the day or night, the tapes and CDs are ideal for Dads
who don’t like detailed written information, perhaps because English is their
second language, or because they have limited literacy skills.
Many Dads with disabled children have had problems finding things out. Andrew
Caan, who now cares full time for his son Pierre, who has the rare bone
condition Ollier’s disease, remembers how hard it was to find out about local
When at last he did track one down, it comprised “mothers sitting in a circle –
excluding newcomers, especially male ones!” Eventually a Dads group was set up
in Andrew’s area, and he is starting a new Ollier’s support group.
Dads can visit Dads Zone at www.cafamily.org.uk/dads.html, or can contact the
charity’s helpline on 0808 808 3555, email email@example.com, for a free
copy of the factsheet on CD, tape or paper. Andrew Caan is starting a new
Ollier’s support group and can also be contacted via the helpline.