23 April 2020Update

Collaboration with a new Nuffield funded study exploring the impacts of COVID-19 on low-income families

A new Nuffield funded study examining the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic has officially been launched today. Led by Dr Ruth Patrick (University of York), Dr Kayleigh Garthwaite (University of Birmingham) and Dr Maddy Power (University of York), the study has several ambitious aims and objectives, including:

  • Drawing on evidence from welfare rights advisors to consider how the social security system and those reliant upon on it, respond to the pandemic;
  • Collating data from ongoing studies to explore how families in poverty are experiencing the crisis now and in the longer term;
  • Developing a dedicated space for researchers to consider how best to research with families in ethical and sensitive ways; and
  • Supporting families themselves to document their experiences as they unfold.

The ‘Following Young Fathers Further’ team is honoured to be included as a collaborator for this research. As Ruth and her colleagues note in their article for Discover Society, this crisis is likely to affect us all, albeit in markedly different ways. Young fathers may already be facing a specific set of disadvantages across their parenting journeys, including any combination of poverty; limited support in education, training or employment; unstable homes; volatile family backgrounds and periods in care; mental health issues; and experiences of offending and domestic violence (as both victims and perpetrators). They are also likely to have a range of associated health and social care support needs across their parenting journeys and are often dependents themselves when they enter parenthood (Neale et al. 2015). We do not yet know to what extent the crisis may further compound this complex constellation of issues.

As part of our qualitative longitudinal study, we are especially well-placed to put in place strategies for capturing these effects as they unfold over time. Our hope is that by working alongside a national group of social researchers and with young fathers and their families, that we are better able to understand the impact that the crisis has on the parenting experiences of young men, to influence the evolving policy response in participatory ways, and contribute to a much longer history of evidence about how low-income families experience and respond in crisis contexts.

From our partners and young dads

[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.

Housing Charity

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.

Children's Charity

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...

Jock, 33
I was 23 when I had my child

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.

Children and Families Support Organisation

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.

Children's Charity

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.

Children and Families Support Organisation

...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

Toby, 26
I was 24 when I had my first child.

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. 

Ben, 31
I was 20 when I had my child

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.

Young Fathers' Support Organisation


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