A Colne Valley man has walked from Manchester to London to campaign for fairer custody rights for dads.
Akeib Mehmood, 28, took part in the seven-day 200-mile “Walking for Change, Walking for our Children’s Future” trek from the offices of homeless people’s support group Lifeshare to the Houses of Parliament.
At Westminster, they lobbied MPs for tougher laws through the family courts to prevent one parent denying the other access to their children when they split up – or acting to turn the child against that parent.
Akeib, who was accompanied by a support team of friends has also raised £1,500 so far towards providing a minibus for Lifeshare to enable homeless young people to go on trips for various activities.
He said: “We accomplished our aim of raising awareness of the unfairness that many fathers face in the family courts. We also managed to highlight the phenomenon of parental alienation which was my main objective.
“The public support by people I met during my walk as well as the support we got from social media has been overwhelming. I met with many new friendly people and had some very interesting conversations. It was special to share our stories and support one another.”
He said the campaigners were calling for family courts to grant automatic 50-50 shared custody of the children where parents have split up – unless there were exceptional circumstances.
They were also calling for action to be taken against parents who prevented their former spouses having access to the children.
Akeib, a father of three who runs Bargain Booze in Milnsbridge, said so-called “parental alienation” also meant grandparents, aunts, uncles and other relatives being denied access to grandchildren, nephews and nieces.
Akeib, who has previously tackled Mount Snowdon to raise funds for Great Ormond Street Hospital in London, said: “After the walk I was sore and in pain, I went into hospital to get checked and took a couple of days off work, but I am recovered now. I would add that the pain I endured from walking 200 miles in no way compares to the pain of a parent being unjustifiably denied access to their children.”
Akeib said he was already planning next year’s event – a bike ride from Huddersfield to London, which will also involve raising funds for a local charity.