“I can finally be the Dad I want to be”

When John’s relationship with his partner had totally broken down and he was having trouble gaining access to his little girl, he was put in touch with our charity.

Family life can become extremely stressful when couples are going through divorce or separation. Children North East provides contact centres and services to provide a neutral place for parents and their child to meet when they no longer live in the same place.

John opened up to us about his experience. We have changed the names of the family to protect their privacy.

Can you tell us what was happening for you when this process started?

Me and my partner split when our little girl was just over a year old. My partner made false allegation after allegation about me. I was interviewed by the police countless times and put in front of judges left, right and centre.

The Contact Centre was suggested to me as a neutral ground, and weekly supervised contact visits were organised.

I’d started out using the Impact Service in Sunderland, but we got to the point where we just couldn’t continue there and contact stopped for nearly 8 months. I can’t even put into words how hard that was. It was not just me who was cut off from her, it was everyone, my mam and dad, her cousins – it was hard on everyone.  My little girl was being used as a weapon against me.

What did the Contact Centre do for you?

The staff at Children North East are solely focussed on what’s best for the child. They don’t take sides and are very impartial and honest.

The Contact Centre’s been invaluable. The staff are absolutely brilliant, some of the best people I’ve ever met, keeping us going along the way.

When did your daughter move back in with you?

In October, after just under three years of being without my daughter, the judge ruled she could come and live with me.

How is life now?

Have you ever won the lottery before? That’s what it feels like. She’s happy, she’s settled into a different nursery and she’s doing so well. She’ll be going to school in September.

I can finally be the dad I want to be for her.

My wife has a three-year-old son so the two kids are thick as thieves – there’s only 10 months between them. Her mam now gets supervised contact once a week.

What advice would you give other dads experiencing what you’ve been through?

Don’t stop trying. Keep going and never give up!