Last night I and my Cabinet colleague Judith Haycock – whose responsibility is Adults and Health – visited the Brooke Young Fathers project. The project is run from the St Austell Children’s Centre every Tuesday from 6:30pm till 9pm; and was set-up after research highlighted young fathers rarely used family services.
The group sessions focus on practical parenting skills, looking at everything from household budgeting to the importance of play. They also cover the subject of safety in the home. The project also allows fathers to share concerns, and in turn be given the right advice to enable them to help with parenting.
For me, the meeting was inspiring. Here was a group of young men who in their own words were were not very well engaged before they came to the project. And from attending the project, the young fathers get the right advice and support, which in turn helps the young fathers deal with parenthood. From my own experience, becoming a father is a daunting prospect, with no manual on how to do it.
The fathers raised several point to Judith and me. Many questions were on the lack of support that is available to young fathers. For instance the Young Fathers programme is only run in St. Austell. This has to be addressed. Other points were on employment and the lack of good paying employment in their area. One father travels to Exeter each day for work; because he wants to work and there is a lack of jobs for his skills in his local area. Others raised the point how they apply for jobs, but never hear back from the employer.
One father who has been with the project for the last two years is now volunteering for the project and wants to become a youth worker. So he can help other fathers who feel no-one cares about them.
I feel more must be done to help young fathers Cornwall wide, and will be speaking with my colleagues to see how we can facilitate projects like the Brooke Young Fathers project.
For more information on parent services click HERE