PARENTS fighting for contact with their children stepped up their campaign by walking from Oxford to London.
Activists gathered at Oxford Combined Court on Friday to protest the legal process, calling it ‘broken’ and ‘not fit for purpose’.
From there they trekked along the Thames Path all the way to Westminster in London, to deliver a report and 650 DVDs to MPs about parental alienation.
Andrew Teague, of national group Dads Against Double Standards, stripped topless in St Aldates to demonstrate how the system takes ‘the shirts off our backs’.
His shirt had been signed with names of parents and grandparents who were struggling not to become estranged from a child.
The campaigner, from Swansea, said: “The reason I walk and go city to city campaigning is to raise awareness of the horrendous truth – that children and families are being failed by a court process that is not fit for purpose.”
He said some parents and grandparents were ‘taking their lives’ after being denied access and becoming depressed.
Mr Teague has walked more than 2,000 miles in total during his travels of the UK and beyond, all to raise awareness.
His group led the protest walk jointly with the National Association of Alienated Parents.
Both are calling for equal rights for both parents after a break-up, and more awareness of ‘parental alienation’ – when one parent turns a child against the other.
The group arrived at the Royal Courts of Justice in London at 1.45am on Sunday, having walked all weekend with overnight breaks along the way.
Yesterday Mr Teague made it to Westminster to deliver the DVDs to an MP, in the hope that they could be shared with other MPs to shine a light on the issue.
Among those walking to London was Oliver Green, from Wantage.
The 25-year-old said being denied access to a child can ‘destroy families and changes people’s lives’.
He said: “For the courts it’s just their job, it’s just paperwork, but for me it affects my day-to-day life.
“Every morning I wake up and think of my son.”
He said the walk reminded him that he is not alone and there are other parents in similar situations.
He added: “Maybe over time our voices will be heard and the whole process will be looked at.
“I think the system has failed a lot of families – it’s broken.”
The Ministry of Justice has defended the current system and said courts already have adequate powers to tackle parental alienation.
Cafcass, the government’s Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Service, states on its website that the issue of alienation has been ‘brought to the fore’.