In May 2016 the Leeds Social Sciences Institute awarded £15,000 in funding for the “Responding to Young Fathers” (RYD) project. This project built on findings and collaborations established from the ESRC funded Following Young Fathers (FYF) study, and related findings and analysis of a subset of this data from the affiliated Men, Poverty and Lifetimes of Care (MPLC) study (Tarrant, 2014-2018, Leverhulme Trust grant ref: ECF-2014-228). The project was practitioner led and involved a collaboration between local and national organisations who were original partner organisations of the network that formed as part of the Following Young Fathers study. Dr Anna Tarrant was the academic lead and worked in close collaboration with the FYF director, Prof. Bren Neale.
The methodology of Responding to Young Fathers in a Different Way was foundational to the concretion work that is being developed in the Following Young Fathers Further study. The establishment of the Young Dads Collective North, for example, described below, was the first step in implementing the Young Dads Collective model nationally and key learning is being brought to the process in Grimsby to establish the Grimsby Dads Collective.
The project consisted of three interrelated work packages that broadly seek to extend and improve policy and practice with young fathers nationally; to increase recognition of the multiple challenges faced by young fathers; and to provide them with increasing opportunities to engage in advocacy and collective support.
If you have any queries about the on-going project please do get in touch with Anna (firstname.lastname@example.org). We will keep this page updated with progress on the project, including announcements about our training events and impact activities.
Work Package 1: Launching the Young Dads Collective North (May-Dec 2016)
- Hannah Turner Uanndja (Family and Child Care Trust)
- Ruben Vemba (Family and Child Care Trust)
- John May (Leeds City Council)
Forming a collaboration between the Family and Child Care Trust and Leeds City Council, this package is designed to roll out the very successful work of the London based Young Dads Collective (YDC). The Following Young Fathers (FYF) project demonstrates that young fathers are often marginalised and side-lined in professional settings, and that there is a pressing need to challenge – and change – the way that young fathers are represented and understood in society (Neale and Davies, 2015).
This was the key theme of the study’s final, practitioner conference – Seeing Young Fathers in a Different Way. One of the most effective ways to do this is to empower selected young fathers as experts by experience, to be supported and trained in advocacy work on behalf of other young fathers and to engage in practitioner training and consultation. The Young Dads Collective is designed to do just that.
This work package will enable a national expansion of the work of the Young Dads Collective, rolling out good practice to the north of England. One of the fundamental issues identified in the FYF study was the problem of recognising young fathers, identifying them and responding positively to them. This work package will directly address this finding by giving effective voices to a wider constituency of young fathers.
Work Package 2: Continuity of support for young offender fathers: an initiative to support resettlement following custody (May-Dec 2016)
- Kate Bulman, G4S Health
In collaboration with an award winning nurse practitioner at the Oakhill STC, this package aims to improve continuity of support for vulnerable young offender fathers when they are released back into the community. Part of the focus would be to improve inter-agency collaboration between those working within and beyond the secure estate. Findings from the FYF study highlight the effectiveness of specialist support for vulnerable young fathers in custodial settings (Neale and Ladlow, 2015).
Such support can do much to create a sense of identity as a father for these young men and can provide a positive alternative to their identity and reputations as criminals. Continuity of care is sorely needed if these fledgling identities are to be consolidated. This requires inter-agency co-operation and working, in a context where much professional thinking is currently driven by a risk/surveillance mind set.
The pilot would track and support a small group of young fathers/expectant fathers who have engaged well with professional support in custody, as they make the transition to resettlement. The findings will also inform the development of the training package for wider use by professionals working in and beyond the secure estate.
Work Package 3: Developing practitioner training: responding to young fathers in a different way (Dec 2016 – Apr 2017).
The FYF study found that while pockets of good practice exist, there is no coherent or unifying policy or professional approach to recognising young fathers and understanding and responding to their needs (Neale and Davis, 2015). The focus of this work package will be two-fold, including:
- a review of existing training provision, initially in the North of England, to see where there may be gaps and
- developing and piloting a one-day training event for practitioners working with young fathers/young parents/young men.
The training event will be developed to fill these gaps and has the scope to be delivered more widely across different local authorities to increase the capacity of professionals in health and social care to support young fathers. This work package will integrate the FYF findings with evidence and good practice developed from the other two work packages, and will be practitioner led.
It will involve other members of the FYF practitioner network including academic and non-academic partners, who will act as consultants to the development of the training. In the process, the existing FYF network will be strengthened and consolidated.
Once the training has been piloted, there is an opportunity to roll it out nationally via the existing FYF network, with the support of key partner organisations such as Working With Men (secretariat to the All Party Parliamentary Group on Fatherhood) and the Teenage Pregnancy Knowledge Exchange.