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Holyrood to ask about challenges facing single fathers in new inquiry

Single fathers are being asked to tell a Holyrood committee about their experiences as it launches an inquiry on the subject.

The Equal Opportunities Committee wants to know about the practical, social and financial challenges facing single fathers across Scotland.

It has issued a call for evidence from single fathers or those with shared custody of children.

There are almost 30,000 lone fathers with dependent and non-dependent children in Scotland , according to official statistics.

The committee wants to know about any specific day-to-day issues, such as access to children, support services or financial assistance.

Convener Margaret McCulloch said: "We know there are more households headed up by single fathers than ever before, yet there is no comprehensive picture of the experiences of single fathers and fathers with shared custody of children in Scotland. That is something our inquiry aims to change.

"While we are fortunate enough to have Christian Allard MSP on our committee, whose experience as a single father will help inform our inquiry.

"We are keen to hear from the hundreds of other single dads across Scotland on the unique practical, social and personal challenges they also face."

The committee is accepting evidence until February 21, with the inquiry due to take place in spring.

SNP MSP Christian Allard has been a single father for ten years and is a member of the Equal Opportunities Committee.

He said: "We have to remember that anybody can become a single parent at any moment so it's time for the Scottish Parliament to look at that.

"I think isolation is one of the key issues, and also work. Employers and colleagues are sometimes not keen to understand what a father goes through when a child is ill, so we need more support. We know that single mothers are getting that but we're not so sure that single fathers are so we want to hear from them.

"My children are grown up now so I would like to hear from other single fathers in Scotland. I remember being the only father at parent evenings and picking my children up at school. We want to hear about all experiences."

Bob Greig set up the Only Dads website in 2007 after struggling to find information and support on raising his children on his own.

He said the issues he hears most about from other single fathers are money, housing, isolation and balancing family life with work.

He told BBC Radio Scotland: "When you find yourself as a single father something unusual has happened, something often catastrophic like the death of a partner, so it is rarely a straightforward situation.

"Single parenting for dads starts with dad on the backfoot and men often find it difficult to find support."

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