Steve had not seen his baby for over 10 months. It was a really difficult time for him. His relationship with his partner had spiralled out of control with both making allegations against the other. After a non-molestation order was in place, Steve had to apply through the courts to see his child. He had no idea how the system worked. During the court proceedings, he found out that his partner had had another baby who was just a few months old. He was now trying to get see both his children.
At first, they had supervised contact at another contact centre. Contact then became unsupervised until fresh allegations were made.
It was a stressful time
At this point, they needed to find a new contact centre and so chose Jigsaw at St Michael's. Steve said it was a stressful time. When he contacted us he hadn’t seen his children for three months.
“Elvedina was the person who I first spoke to. She was really understanding. When I explained I hadn’t seen my children for such a long time she did her best to find me the soonest slot. She said I could’ve had it the next day but then it ended up being the following week.”
It was precious time
“I really love my children and wanted to see them all the time but I could only afford to see them once a fortnight for an hour, I couldn’t afford two hours. But I made the most of it. It gave me a chance to make them some food and change their nappies. It was a precious time.
At St Michael’s they would also let me take photographs of me with the children. I hadn’t been allowed before. I didn’t have a photograph of us all together.”
I couldn't afford two hours
“It was a very distressing and stressful time when I started having contact. I had two other children from my first marriage. I knew how to look after children. It felt degrading having people watch what you do and write everything down. I just had to go through it for my children's sake. When you are with your kids you just have to stay positive.
Elvedina supported me. I felt comfortable with her. I also had sessions with Elaine and Dan who were great too.
Both of my children were babies. My son was crawling, it could be a bit of a handful and Elvidina would say you can always ask us to help you.”
My child didn't know who I was
“The first time I saw my daughter in contact she didn’t know who I was. I didn’t even recognise her. She was apprehensive but in no time she was sat on my lap handing me things, babbling away and now when she sees me she’s like 'Daddy, Daddy!'
The set up was good
"I had thought about going to another contact centre but it was so much more expensive for supervised contact. St Michael’s was reasonable. The set up was good too. It was like a studio flat with a kitchen. My children liked the toys there. And there was another bigger room. It had great facilities.”
They said I could ask for help
"I was apprehensive and nervous before I came to contact at St Michael's - I would never have shown it though. I was nervous because it was a new place but also because I didn’t really understand the Family Courts system. I had gone from having unsupervised contact to being told I needed supervised contact. The Family Courts system feels like a circus and all I wanted was to see my children. But then court dates were adjourned and new evidence would come up.
The court asked if I wanted to make five fresh allegations against my ex-partner but all I wanted was to see my children. It felt like the system was making things worse and her solicitor was making more legal aid money. I felt very disillusioned."
Elvedina supported me, I felt comfortable with her
“I am so grateful I could see my children somewhere with such nice people.
I am quite a thick-skinned guy but it was hard. I knew I would get through it but it felt like a long dark tunnel.
I went and got support from Families Need Fathers. Hearing other dads' stories help me understand what was happening to me and figure out the best way of making this work for my children."
Seeing my children in the community
"Now I see my kids in the community. I have contact every fortnight for three hours. It's going to go up to five hours soon. I’m still not getting on with my ex-partner. We both film each other picking up and dropping off the kids. But I know that my kids don’t want to see Mummy and Daddy at it all the time. I have to be focused on what's important and not get involved in the pettiness for the sake of my children.”
If you would like more information about our contact centre please get in touch 020 8835 9570