When I meet a young father for the first time I usually explain that there is some support for mothers and for children but there often appears to be very little for fathers, especially young fathers. I will explain that often young fathers feel isolated, ignored or invisible. At this stage every young man I have worked with is nodding, recognising that what I have said seems to apply to them.
Brook Young Fathers offers support to men under 25 (or older if their partner is working with WILD!) who are fathers or in a fathering role. We try to help individuals with practical issues such as parenting advice, housing and employment but a lot of our work focuses on mental health, emotional wellbeing and relationships. Many young men explain that they find it hard to cope with aspects of their lives and feel affected by depression and anxiety. Similarly, poor self-esteem and low confidence can supress motivation and aspirations, leaving feelings of despair and stagnation.
A lot of my work is on a 1-1 basis, however, the young fathers group that became established in July 2016, enables young fathers to support each other and provide valuable, peer mentoring. The sessions typically start with a physical activity such as: badminton, volleyball or boxercise, this is usually followed by the group having a cup of coffee and a discussion about subjects including: relationships, parenting, mental health or whatever is on their mind on that day!
But ‘men don’t talk’ and ‘men don’t do groups!’ Yes they do! Well they can, if you give them the appropriate opportunity or the right environment.
Three young fathers from the group are taking part in the ‘Tuff Enuff’ obstacle challenge on 27.05.17 to raise money for SPARC. SPARC is a local organisation (who provide sessions for both WILD and Brook Young Fathers) which aims to promote sport inclusion and ensure that all members of the community can access physical activity.
Please support the young fathers and SPARC by making a donation: