The North East Young Dads and Lads, based in Gateshead, were announced as our new partners in June 2020. With lead parter, CEO Kevin Stoodley, the charity agreed to collaborate with the study so that we could research the impacts of COVID-19 on a wider national cohort of young dads and with a national organisation that is passionately committed to tackling negative societal views of young fathers.
On their website they explain a bit about their history and establishment:
“The project started life in 2015 with a simple brief: to find out what, if anything, could be done to support young dads (aged under 25) who live, work or study in the North East of England. At the time, there was no blueprint for this work, so as experienced youth workers we went out and met young men on their terms and figured things out together.
Several years on and NEYDL is a charity in it’s own right, reaching over 50 young men a year and spending on average over 40 hours with each young man we meet. Due to the honesty and courage shown by these young men, we now have a better understanding of the difficulties facing young men who are fathers, along with an admiration for the resilience and determination they continue to show in the face of often-extreme adversity.”
Their ethos as an organisation aligns with own for the FYFF study, which is directly informed by the evidence we are producing, that:
“Counter to the excuses used by professionals who fail to work effectively with this community, young dads are not unreachable, un-teachable, disinterested or a problem that needs fixing.”
Our relationship with the North East Dads and Lads has evolved over time and we have also had the privilege of supporting the lads and dads to conduct a peer research project called Diverse Dads, which aimed to address gaps in support and outreach for minoritised young fathers. With the support of Jonah York of DigiDAD we produced five videos about the project featuring the peer research team, the advisory team, young fathers from minoritised young fathers and professionals with experience of working with fathers and minoritised communities. We also produced a recording of the end of project webinar which was delivered to professionals and researchers across the UK to deliver our key findings and recommendations for practice.
Diverse Dads videosDiverse Dads webinar
Several of the NEYDL dads have also accompanied us in presenting to policy makers including at the All Party Parliamentary Group (or APPG) on Fatherhood and as part of a written and video submission for a recent House of Lords Inquiry on Youth Unemployment. Click on the links below to watch the videos!
“[Speaking about support of young fathers] We’ve done a lot of kind of advocation and representing them, a lot of the time there’s involvement with statutory services. They don’t have the care of the young person, the care’s provided by the state or the mother, so we’ve attended lots of meetings with the young person to offer additional support and facilitated contact where necessary and offered just general emotional wellbeing, support, improving robustness and resilience, encouraging them to have as amicable relationship as possible.”
“And I suppose it goes back to what we were saying before about behaviours, maybe the education side of stuff and the fact that men aren’t involved in those early conversations, you know, whether it is, I know they’re invited to come along to bumps to babies but I don’t know whether we go into the detail around some of that brain development side of stuff and things like that. Maybe that is the thing that really would change things. You know, if you were given all of that information about what happens to a child as they grow, in a scientific way, as easy to understand as possible, could be the thing that impacted on behaviour in the home.”
“I think both a mother and father combined, it’s communicating and both being on the same page of what’s best for your child or children, and for both, it’s just being there 100% for them and not, like, putting yourself first, it’s, you know, putting the child’s interests first... ”
“We need to be including, we need to not [just] be focusing on mum and child […] That’s a great focus but dad … dad’s not invisible, dad needs to be in the picture as well because there’s research that shows you the effect it has on children and families as a whole when dad isn’t in the picture, so services need to be changing the way in which they work so it’s more inclusive.”
“Cause I think a lot of the time, some of young people who end up having children have been through the care system or support systems and they can feel quite judged or labelled by organisations and it’s breaking the cycle and breaking them out of that to feel empowered to be able to take stuff back, that’s the real interest to me. So, it’s about getting support right, as in being there and giving advice and guidance and all them things that we can do, but also making sure that we are doing with people as opposed to people.”
“One of the most successful projects we ever did was an informal dads’ group, and it used to be on Saturdays […] they did what they wanted, they used to do things like breakfast, and they would have breakfast together and talk about dad stuff and where they were taking their kids. And that group was always really well attended because there was never an agenda. They were never judged. They were just there together.”
“...the whole stay at home dad thing is not something to be ashamed of, you know, if you’re a dad and you wanna take your daughter out for the day, or you wanna take your kid out for the day on your own, well why is that frowned upon, why can’t you take your child out for the day ”
“Oh…patience…compassion…tolerance, a whole boatload a’ that! Honestly, I like a whole lot of life. Sacrifice…compromise, yeah I think, yeah I think they, they would be the, the big, the five, I feel, I think that was five, they would be the main. ”
“We’re currently in touch with social services for two [dads] because they don’t understand why they can’t see their children because they haven’t been informed by social services, their partner. So there’s a massive communication breakdown with those young men, so that’s the main focus of what we’re dealing with at the minute.”