Fathers' caravan protest
TWO homeless fathers have set up camp outside a district council's headquarters in a desperate bid to be given homes in which to raise their children.Jonathon Ward, 29, and Damien Davies, 30, are protesting against Babergh District Council's delays in providing them with homes, which they claim is discrimination.
TWO homeless fathers have set up camp outside a district council's headquarters in a desperate bid to be given homes in which to raise their children.
Jonathon Ward, 29, and Damien Davies, 30, are protesting against Babergh District Council's delays in providing them with homes, which they claim is discrimination.
The pair say single fathers deserve the same rights as women in the same situation but claim they being discriminated against because of their gender.
They claim the situation is denying them the chance to create a family environment for their children.
Both men have been living in a caravan outside Babergh's Hadleigh offices since Sunday and are vowing to stay put until somebody listens to their plight.
Mr Davies, of Great Cornard, near Sudbury, who has two children – aged three and five – has taken time off work to take part in the protest.
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He has no permanent home for his children to visit. He says he wants the same treatment a single mother would receive when requiring housing.
He has been joined by Mr Ward, who says he has been "running into brick wall after brick wall" in his bid to find a home in which to bring-up his five-year-old son.
Mr Ward comes from the Sudbury area but has spent the past six-months sleeping in tents, caravans and even on friend's sofas after losing the rented accommodation he had occupied previously.
His problems began 18 months ago when he went through a break-up with the mother of his child.
Despite having almost equal custody of his son, he says the district authority has failed to house him since he lost his private flat.
He claims his fight for housing and the amount of time he has with his son has left him unable to hold down full-time work – a situation he says makes it impossible for him to afford a deposit for private accommodation.
"If I was a single mother I would have been housed immediately. I have almost joint custody, so I should be entitled to a home where I can bring up my son, as far as I am concerned this is blatant discrimination," said Mr Ward.
He added: "When my son stays with me I have to sleep at a friends or wherever I can. I have always been a good father and willing to work, all I am asking for is a stable environment in which to bring up my son, the same as which single mothers get without any problem."
Despite their protest, the two men have now been served with an eviction notice by the authority. Their case is due to be heard at Ipswich County Court on Monday.
Ian Tippett, Babergh's housing services manager, said: "We have every sympathy with the housing predicament of the two gentlemen concerned.
"Both are registered on our housing waiting list, but unfortunately with 1,600 applicants registered and on average only 300 vacancies a year, it is not possible to fulfil everybody's housing needs.
"We have advised both gentlemen recently and provided them with assistance. We are currently reviewing their application to ensure all aspects of their situation have been accounted for."