Dad fighting stigmas to help men gain access to their children
A Lincolnshire dad has gone from losing seven stone after being unable to see his children to now running an award-winning charity helping fellow dads gain access to see their children.
Nathan Wilson, 38, from Navenby, set up 'Dads Advocates' in October 2021 after he gained full custody of his children following a court process, he said came after being in a domestically abusive relationship.
Through the charity, Mr Wilson's "mission" and "passion" is to help dads achieve meaningful, safe and consistent contact with their children throughout the court process. This includes coaching dads to put emotions to one side, how to act in court and write paperwork and the best way to gain access and custody of their children.
Mr Wilson said: "No one ever thinks about what it's doing to the child but it hurts them. You need to push everything to the side.
"All children deserve access to both parents because you need that love from both of them, regardless of the animosity. It's always about the children and you can't alienate them."
He added: "We live in that stigma where you have to be macho and 'man up.' It has got to go. If you're not the best version of yourself, you're not going to be the best for your child which means they won't be the best version of themselves in the future. That's what I live by and what keeps me going."
Mr Wilson lives with his five children in Navenby, including three of his own, a stepson and his nephew who he has custody of. He works in security but is quitting his job to "put 100 per cent of his focus" into Dads Advocates.
He said that there were certain stigmas in society that make it difficult for dads to get custody of their children. He said: "The stigma is that the mum will always get custody of the child.
"The dad is already defeated before he even gets to court because he thinks it will go in the mum's favour. One of the main challenges is getting the dad to open up and be 100 per cent honest with you."
Mr Wilson added that one of the most rewarding situations so far has been helping a dad get custody of his daughter two days before Christmas by helping him with paperwork. One of the dads Mr Wilson has helped is 46-year-old Steve, from Lincoln, who did not wish to share his surname.
Steve said Mr Wilson has helped him gain custody of his two-year-old daughter, who now stays with him three nights a week. Steve said: "Following Nathan's advice, we actually came to an agreement amongst ourselves.
"There were other people getting involved and making small problems a lot larger and his advice on how to handle that was completely different to how I would. I don't think I'd be seeing my daughter three days a week if it wasn’t for Nathan."
He added: "I can text him at 10pm at night and he’ll respond. It's not about money for Nathan, he has charity status now but it's about helping fathers see their kids."
On Saturday, June 18, Dads Advocates won the award for 'best campaign' at the National Fatherhood Awards, which celebrates the achievement of fathers on social media across the UK. Mr Wilson said he is "humbled" by winning the award which "shows there is a need out there."
Donald Mbeutcha and Agnes Agyepong, founders of the Fatherhood Awards said: "Nathan's story is sadly one that many dads can relate to and see how he has used his story to create a platform that supports and uplifts fathers is inspiring. To know that Dads Advocates have achieved this level of success in less than a year of operation demonstrates how important it is that we continue to amplify their work and the work of others like them."
In August this year, Mr Wilson will also be launching 'Male Abuse Lincs,' where he will help male victims of domestic abuse to change the victim mentality to a survivor's mentality. He said: "I wake up every day and count my blessings that my children are with me.
"They are my life and are the ones that gave me the incentive." Dads Advocates website can be visited here.