A family separation charity which has managed to reconnect 28 dads with their children is asking islanders to stop 'lion' around this Easter and get involved with their awareness-raising campaign - by helping a lost cub.
James' Ark is a local charity which offers families support through the separation process to achieve the best outcomes for their children, and raises awareness of the need for children to have a loving relationship with both parents.
Although the charity aims to promote equality for both parents regardless of gender, the charity says it is often fathers who are most impacted — with 40% of all fathers losing contact with their children within two years of separation.
James Cunningham, who founded James' Ark three years ago, explained that family separation is a "huge issue in Jersey, which is not spoken about enough".
Through his 'Reconnecting the Cub' initiative, which he came up with alongside his young daughter, James hopes to "raise awareness" and "break the cycle of fatherless homes".
The initiative involves two cuddly toys — a 'baby lion' and a 'daddy lion' — which have been separated.
Each lion will be placed at different bus stops on the island, and bus passengers will be encouraged to take the toys with them on their journey to try and bring them back together. The people who successfully reconnect the two lions will win £50.
James hopes that this will encourage families to talk about the topic of separation, as well as providing a fun activity to get involved in during the Easter holidays.
Pictured: It is hoped that the two lions will be reconnected by people taking them on their bus journeys — with a £50 prize up for grabs.
Spending over 50 hours a week of his spare time running James' Ark, James knows that the impact of family separation is "huge".
"Parental alienation needs more recognition and awareness around the impact on children," said James.
He added: "Children from fatherless homes are 63% of youth suicides, 76% of young men in prison, 90% of homeless men, and 75% of substance abusers.
"85% of children who show behavioural issues come from fatherless homes, and young girls are seven times more likely to become teenage mums."
However, despite wanting to help as much as possible, James explained that his charity is really "struggling" with money and is "desperate for funding".
James is currently dealing with almost 60 cases of family separation at the moment.
Last year, he had a "big success rate" and managed to reconnect 28 dads with their children which James described as "amazing".
"It's so important to help dads believe in themselves more," he explained. "Many dads don't realise how important they are in their children's lives, so it's really crucial to be able to empower them to reconnect."
If the 'Reconnecting the Cub' initiative goes well during the easter holidays, James is hoping to run it again in time for Father's Day in June.
You can find out more on James' Ark's website or Facebook page.
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