In December 2012 a group of young dads made recommendations to services around the UK in a government report.
Who are these young dads and how did they get a political voice?
The Council of Young Dads is the steering group for YoungDads.tv (a project to provide information and guidance to fathers below the age of 25 in the UK) and consists of nine dads from around the UK (ranging in age from 19 to 24). James, Kieran, Jerome, Theo, Joe, John, Suresh, Errol, and Freddie meet every month to share their insights with YoungDads.tv and help shape the project: their expertise has been essential to the project’s success, and they are paid a London Living Wage for their time (with support for travel and childcare, too).
Where did they come from?
YoungDads.tv began with a year-long tour of the UK finding using media training workshops to find out about the real lives of young dads. The Council members are the most motivated of the young dads we met (and in many cases run their own father support in the local community). Thanks go to Working With Men, St. Michael’s Fellowship, Family Action, and Brighton and Hove City Council for connecting us with these young men.
What do young dads want?
The Council has helped to dispel many common myths; this has made YoungDads.tv what it is today. Young fathers very rarely know about local support (like Sure Start Children’s Centres) or the other young fathers in their area, but really value both when they’re introduced to them. Typically, they don’t want to chat in online communities but want to access useful information online, quickly and anonymously. They also enjoy soap opera style dramas and Youtube clips. Based on this learning, YoungDads.tv helps young fathers to find help, watch films, and make friends.
Young dads find their voice.
It didn’t take long for other organisations to hear about the great work of the Council of Young Dads, and soon they were being asked to help services to become more ‘young dad friendly’. This culminated in their support and insight being used for the Department for Education’s report on the needs of young fathers, called ‘Are we there yet, dad?’ Written by Barnardos and the Family Strategic Partnership, this report makes recommendations to statutory support services (like maternity services and schools) on how they can increase the number of children who enjoy the support of a loving father by making their services more friendly to young dads. You can read more about the report here.
Young dads in the future.
The Council of Young Dads continue to steer YoungDads.tv and many are branching-out, running their own local support groups for young fathers. James, Kieran, Jerome, Theo, Joe, John, Suresh, Errol, and Freddie all show that young fathers are worth our support and can be role models to other dads and to their children.
What are people saying about the Council of Young Dads?
— CeDARE(@uowcedare) February 6, 2013
— Niall Smith (@smithonpurpose) February 6, 2013
— James Johnston (@Jay_Jay_33) January 31, 2013