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Supporting Young Fathers Network

Home » Reaching Young Fathers

Reaching and engaging young fathers is the 'bread and butter' of young fathers work. We asked a number of projects and organisations about the methods they had used that had worked and the ones that had not. We also asked what they had learned about engaging young fathers. Here we also present some examples of promising practice in terms of reaching school-age and teenage fathers.

Accessing young fathers

Projects reported a wide range of methods to raise awareness of their work and reach and/or engage young fathers, though most projects told us that reaching and engaging young men nearly always takes longer than anticipated.

To help promote their project, B2b+ in Sunderland use simple written material (e.g. leaflets and posters) with straightforward, jargon-free language. Offering a range of services, B2b+ has enjoyed strong successes in reaching young fathers. Other examples include the Great Yarmouth Young Men's Project (GYYMP), DVD in Rotherham, the Teenage Pregnancy Support Service (TPSS) in Hull, and Sure Start in rural Berwick-upon-Tweed where young fathers have been accessed through antenatal services.

DVD in Rotherham offered sports and activities such as football, cricket, and rugby sessions as ways of engaging with young fathers, arguing that such activities were a vital tool to draw young fathers in and help them gain confidence and esteem, before starting parenting work.

Reaching teenage and (school-age) fathers

Accessing school-age fathers raises quite different challenges to accessing older young fathers. There is a considerable lack of understanding and research about teenage and/or school-age fathers.

Significant gaps remain in service provision for teenage and/or school-age fathers. Few projects and agencies work specifically with fathers under 16 years. Practitioners wishing to offer support for the youngest fathers mentioned a number of barriers they have faced. For example, the difficultly in finding such fathers (their 'invisibility'), the lack of support mechanisms if such fathers are identified, complicated circumstances with the mother and her family, educational difficulties (sometimes including behavioural problems), and the negative attitudes of individual professionals. But some projects told us that not only can the work be done, it can be done well.

The Health Initiatives Team at Education Leeds work exclusively with school-age parents (and parents-to-be; mothers and fathers) and the teenage male partners of school-age mothers (see case study). Other projects and services currently delivering support for teenage fathers (but not necessarily school-age fathers) include the Young Fathers Project in Lewisham, Brighton and Hove Young Fathers Project, B2b+ in Sunderland, T-BAG in Halifax, Fathers First in the Isle of Wight, UKdadsposse and the Potential Project in Oxford, and the TPSS in Hull. See Contacts.

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