Dads learning to be better parents thanks to social care project

A support group dedicated to dads in Aberdeen is breaking down barriers to offer help, advice and education for fathers as they bid to become better parents.

Dads Work was established in Aberdeen several years ago and continues to go from strength to strength providing a safe, supportive and non-judgmental environment for fathers in the city. Dad, Richard and his one year old Son, Braedon.

The group is comprised of dads who have been referred by the city’s social work team in order to provide them with a suitable support framework to be better parents.

As well as offering support Dads Work was also created in a bid to beat the stigma attached to agencies engaging with men in a workshop environment.

Aberdeen City Council’s social care and wellbeing team lead the project with funding from partner agencies including NHS Grampian, Fairer Funding Scotland, Health in Focus and National Childbirth Trust.

The group meets three times a week with a variety of mediums all designed to provide practical learning experiences as well as emotional and social support.

Aberdeen City Council senior support worker Ron Bird leads the group along with ACC family support worker Sheena Burrows with each of the week’s sessions boasting a different focus.

The dads take part in a discussion group, which focuses on current issues and experiences while a second meeting takes the form of a sports activity with the dads currently enjoying weekly badminton sessions. The final session takes the form of a cooking class where the dads learn to prepare and cook healthy meals using recipes. During the meetings a crèche is provided to care for the dads’ children.

Ron explained: “Dads Work is really all about giving dads an opportunity to engage with other dads.

“The group doesn’t have any airs or graces and really support one another. Regardless of what the situation the dads are in, whether they have newborn babies or teenagers they can share their experiences, skills and knowledge of parenting as a mutual support group. Aberdeen is breaking down barriers to offer help, advice and education for fathers as they bid to become better parents.

“We try to build confidence, develop parenting skills, enhance the quality of care dads offer their children, and help the dads attending into education or employment if that is what is required.”

Dads Work member John Paterson, 30, from Tillydrone, has three children Kelsie (8), who has cerebral palsy, Sophie (6) and Melissa (2).

He said the group was a great outlet and heaped praise on it for offering him support and a network of friends.

John said: “This group gives me a bit of breathing space, and allows me the chance to make friends, which I think is really important. It’s also given me the chance to learn new skills.”

As well as helping John and his fellow dads the programme’s focus on building confidence and transferable skills has empowered many of the group’s participants over the years with many successfully going through the Dads Work scheme to establish their own groups across the city.

Ron added: “We provide a safe and supportive environment for the dads to explore their concerns and worries about being fathers. The strength of Dads Work is that it provides a support network for a group of guys who would otherwise feel left out of mainstream groups.”

Whilst Ron and Sheena continue their work with the dads, the group is currently in the process of seeking registered charity status in order to allow it to fundraise and work with more dads in the city.