We are delighted to announce that the Following Young Fathers Further team has expanded! Dr Michael Richardson, Newcastle University and the North East Young Dads and Lads Project based in Gateshead have agreed to join the team so that we can research the impacts of Covid-19 on a wider national cohort of young dads and with another national organisation. Michael is a Lecturer in Human Geography and has longstanding research interests in masculinities and intergenerational relationships. He has been a Trustee of the North East Young Dads and Lads Project since 2018 and is currently conducting a research evaluation of their “Teen Dads” work which has been funded by BBC Children In Need (learn more about this work here).
These new developments represent an important new phase of the Following Young Fathers Further (FYFF) study. Since the lockdown was imposed in March 2020, the FYFF team has been exploring ways of ethically researching and capturing the effects of the Covid-19 crisis on the lives of young fathers, as well as the organisations who support them. As a qualitative longitudinal study, FYFF is well placed to capture the impacts of the evolving crisis and associated policy responses as they impact on the parenting journeys of young men over time. In a previous blog, we announced that we have also joined a national consortium of researchers as part of a Nuffield funded study to examine the impacts of the crisis on low-income families.
We have continued to work closely with our national project partners Coram Family and Childcare, NSPCC Grimsby and YMCA Humber to understand how they have adapted their support and to gain their perspective on how the pandemic has affected the young fathers they support. We discuss some of these early findings in Discover Society and the Centre for Research on Families and Relationships blog).
The new collaborations with Michael and the North East Young Dads and Lads project will enable us to build a more comprehensive and extended national picture of the impacts of the crisis on young fathers and national organisations. These new partnerships represent a significant step in enhancing national collaboration, strengthening the developing evidence base about young fathers and their support needs, and ensuring that the voices and experiences of young fathers remain visible and appropriately responded to.
“[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.”