A new report has revealed that fathers with disabled children in the UK feel marginalised and under-acknowledged.
Entitled Dad and Me, charities Scope and Netbuddy joined together to set up the study; aiming to increase awareness of the rights available to fathers and develop more targeted groups to help support them.
The results suggest that the majority of dads caring for disabled children struggled at work. Over 15 percent said they kept their home situation a secret from work. Fathers who did inform their employer felt that they were held back by bosses who thought they had “enough on their plate”. Other respondents felt unable to fulfil their potential in their chosen career alongside caring for their child, but said they needed the salary of a full-time job.
Four out of 10 of the fathers surveyed said they were also unaware of their rights to flexible working hours.
Under UK law, parents of disabled children have a statutory right to ask their employers for convenient hours. Many fathers said that they scheduled appointments outside of working hours so that they could be involved in that side of their child’s care.
Richard Hawkes, Chief Executive of disability charity, Scope said that they government was not doing enough to support these marginalised parents:
“It needs to do more to promote the value of flexible working to support family relationships and family finances.”
While the Queen’s Speech in 2010 mentioned plans to extend the rights of flexible working hours, this issue has not yet been addressed.
In response to the survey and why fathers may feel under-valued in their role as a carer, Deborah Gundle, founder of Netbuddy explained:
“It is commonly the case that mothers are assumed to take all the responsibilities of caring on board.”
The results of Dad and Me revealed the high level of involvement fathers have in their child’s care, as well as the problems they face. However, four out of 10 fathers said that they did not fully understand their child’s condition and a further third did not feel confident looking after them. The mistaken assumption that mothers take on the caring role alone means that fathers are not getting the help they need.
Asked how their situation could be improved, many dads expressed a wish for support directed specifically at them. Scope is looking to expand support networks for fathers in the UK; including groups and forums where they can access help and advice.
For more information or to read the report visit: www.scope.org.uk
Written by Katy McIntosh