In 1990, Earl’s Court local Billy McGranahan found himself in London with a one year old son, abandoned by his wife who, suffering from postnatal depression, had returned to her native Edinburgh. What must have been a devastating turn of events Billy now refers to as the “best thing that’s ever happened” to him. Why? Because it led to the creation of Dad’s House, an outreach centre and lifeline for local fathers of every variety.
As Billy adjusted to his new life as a single father, he started to research what the options were for social services available to struggling men in his situation. While his search yielded one hundred residential units for struggling single mothers (fewer now due to funding cuts), he found not a single one available for single fathers. Noticing the severe lack of help for them, Billy decided to create a change, and now he helps over one thousand dads per year and rising. Dad’s House is a hub of services and information where single fathers can go and get help on almost any aspect they should need – from emergency lifelines such as a food bank on Mondays at Kensington High Street, on Tuesdays at Earl’s Court, and breakfast clubs for fathers and their children on Saturdays at the World’s End Estate to a bi-weekly football club (Mondays at South Kensington and Fridays at North Kensington), Dad’s House also helps to provide housing to homeless fathers in collaboration with homeless charity St Mungo’s. “Certain people just need help” says Billy, which is why Dad’s House avoids demographic-specific targets, aiming to prevent those in need from falling through the gaps. Dad’s House helps any and all single fathers who may need it, providing they don’t have a criminal conviction for abuse. Established in 2008, Dad’s House has been Billy’s main job ever since.
As the organisation has grown, Billy’s work has seen him touring the country giving lectures and debates at universities around the country. With more than two million fulltime single fathers in the UK, another part of his work involves advocacy at the national government level, with plans to secure funding to expand the organisation and open new locations in the near future. The next step Billy wants to take is to open the first ever day centre for dads. Upon opening, the goal of the centre will be to provide services such as classes for dads on subjects such as parenting, cooking, discussion groups, to provide accommodation to single fathers and their children, and to providing space to host charities and local groups such as Age UK. Once it is up and running, Billy hopes that the day centre will provide a model to then open other such facilities around the country.
The Dad’s House Board of Trustees is currently made up of local professionals, with the most recent addition to the board being St Mungo’s Chief Executive Howard Sinclair. Together, they have created a working brand with a solid set of policies, all the while receiving no funding. So let’s hear it for the dads. Dad’s House extends a welcome to anyone who may be available to volunteer.
See www.dadshouse.org.uk for more information, or contact Billy on email: firstname.lastname@example.org and mobile 0776 518 3504.
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