Well done to RFFJ and all involved
The two Real Fathers for Justice campaigners are camped out on the Queen Alexandra Bridge in Sunderland
Two fathers have scaled Sunderland’s Queen Alexandra Bridge to stage a Father’s Day protest against family courts.
The pair have unfurled a 25ft purple banner proclaiming ‘Happy Fatherless Day’ on the north side of the bridge, though Northumbria Police say they have asked them to come down.
Campaign group, Real Fathers for Justice, who are not associated with Fathers 4 Justice, have said the protest is to highlight family court decisions which deny one parent equal access to children.
The two dads who have climbed the Sunderland landmark both claim to have had harrowing experiences of family courts.
Danny, 42, from Sunderland hasn’t seen his two young children for over four years.
He said: “My eldest son was born on Fathers’ Day, today’s protest is dedicated to him.
“I don’t think most people have any idea of the affects of being unable to parent your children, knowing that despite them living only a few miles away I am no longer part of their lives.
“I am allowed only to send small gifts and cards four times a year, I have no idea if they receive them or not.
“It has been described as a living bereavement not seeing your children, it affects every part of your life and my mental health has suffered. It’s like being shell shocked, your life loses meaning, you are overwhelmed with feelings of frustration and confusion.”
Real Fathers for Justice protest on Alexandra Bridge in SunderlandReal Fathers for Justice protest on Alexandra Bridge in Sunderland
The father-of-two says he can no longer afford legal fees to pursue an appeal.
Joining him on the bridge protest is Gateshead father-of-four, John, 34.
Leigh Davison, a spokesman for Real Fathers for Justice, said the pair were inspired by Simon Anderton’s protest last year, which saw the father-of-five spend 11 days on the Tyne bridge after scaling the landmark on Father’s Day.
He said: “Their cases are fairly typical of the hundreds we hear about every week, These types of protest will continue and could well intensify, there are a new generation of younger fathers who are becoming aware of the kind of problems in family law we have been highlighting for over a decade.”
A spokesperson for Northumbria Police has said: “Officers attended and made contact with the two men, who claim to be carrying out a protest on the bridge.
“We have requested they come down and will continue to monitor the situation.”
However, the two protestors could stay on the bridge for days or weeks, depending on the level of support they get, Leigh warned.
The bridge remains open for traffic and pedestrians.