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Fathers First, Isle of Wight - One-to-One Work

Run in partnership with the Youth Service, local midwives, and the Connexions Service, Fathers First is connected with the Mobile Youth Initiative (MYI) which runs in isolated rural areas of the Isle of Wight. The MYI realised they were not reaching young fathers in rural areas and therefore set-up plans to deliver a parenting group for young fathers through the mobile bus. The bus is a fully equipped mobile youth centre that visits isolated areas of the island and is available for young people aged 13-19 years. However, through a consultation process with agencies and young people, it was realised that teenage fathers wanted one-to-one intensive support rather than group based work. Consequently, holistic, flexible, and intensive individual support is now provided for around 36 young fathers meeting them in an environment of their choice, or wherever they feel safe and comfortable.

'We meet young fathers wherever they feel safe or comfortable, it might be in their own home, at a park, whatever suits them - we travel to them.'

One-to-one support is totally needs led, starting from the young fathers agenda. In the first instance, support usually relates to nonparenting issues (e.g. housing, employment, substance misuse, relationships, learning difficulties, legal issues etc.) but will move on to parenting support when the presenting issues have been dealt with. Support is wideranging and extensive; however, some specific examples include:
  • Initial assessment and identification of support needs through discussion and dialogue. This discussion is built into a written contract that stipulates the issues that are to be worked on, which the young father then signs his agreement to.
  • All one-to-one sessions are recorded and reviewed. This has two purposes: 1) to protect the young father and staff member, and 2) to provide a record of work and progress that can be reviewed by the staff and young person to identify 'distance travelled', and identify new targets.
  • Development of positive parenting skills - This may involve discussions (e.g. relating to babies' developmental stages, and the importance of interaction and contact), paper-based activities (e.g. using handouts giving basic information on health and safety, or hygiene), and practical hands-on activities (e.g. making baby food or visiting local shops to explore different kinds of baby foods and nappies).
  • Building of confidence and esteem - This occurs through the support process rather than specific activities or work per se. Confidence and esteem are built through developing trust and positive working relationships with the young father.
  • Learning and employment support - This may involve support with filling in job applications, writing CVs, providing ideas on where and how to look for jobs (e.g. with a visit to the job centre), practicing interview skills, and so on.

'Individual support is totally led by the young father, we make sure he knows he will not be judged and that we are there for them - we look at the individual holistically and let them know that they can use our support for any area of their lives, not just parenting.'

Dee Makin (Senior Youth and Community Worker)
Tel: +44 (0)1983 856 640

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