This morning, Fathers Day, 21st June 2015, a Real Fathers For Justice activist Simon Peter Anderton climbed up 180 feet to the top of Newcastle’s iconic Tyne Bridge. Once there he unfurled a 25ft purple banner printed:
“Happy fatherless day. Realfathersforjustice.org.”
The “Fatherless day” protest is to raise awareness of the tens of thousands of children unable to have a loving relationship with their dad on father’s day because family court orders are worthless.
Simon (56) now a grandfather himself, works as a labourer on a zero hour contract. He is a father to 3 girls and 2 boys. He has not seen his youngest 2 girls for 14 years; he sold his modest terraced house to fund his family court battle and now lives with his elderly mother in the Heaton suburb of the city.
On the verge of bankruptcy, he started campaigning after giving up his court case when the judge could not ensure ordered weekly contact took place. A veteran of many high profile protests, Simon has scaled Westminster Abbey, spent 9 days on roof of Metro Radio studios and occupied the Tyne Bridge for 3 days in 2008.
Real Fathers For Justice spokesman Ray Barry said: “As a lay advisor I work in family courts every week supporting separated parents. Nothing much has changed in the last decade, although fathers may be offered contact more often, the quality and frequency is often pitiful.
“Changes brought in by the Children and Families Act last year were trumpeted as introducing a presumption in favour of fathers being ordered contact, but it was watered down to almost nothing in the committee stages in Parliament.
“This new law says that even when a court is satisfied that a father presents no risk, indirect contact can be enough. That means sending cards and letters but never actually seeing your child. It’s insulting to all fathers everywhere.
“It happens to mothers too, the current system is adversarial and we call for a more collaborative process of resolution to ensure children remain in the lives of both parents following separation or divorce.
“We fully support the work of Karen Woodall from the Family separation clinic and ask that the government look closely at her experiences and suggestions on reforms.”
Simon plans to stay up there for 2 weeks, he is harnessed to the
structure and has plenty of food and water.