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Supporting dads to have improved relationships with their children

Norfolk County Council, 14 March 2022 00:00

A Norwich father has been able to stabilise his life and provide a nurturing home for his young son, following help from Children's Services specialist support workers.

Dave, who is 35, had been struggling with his mental health and a problematic relationship with his partner, which had broken down before their son was born. Very early in his young life, the couple's son was taken into care and placed with a foster family.

Dave said: "It was such a rough time. I have a borderline personality disorder and didn't have a very nice childhood myself, so I had no idea how to bring up a child.

"I was struggling to be a good dad and was full of doubt and fear.

"Although I didn't have the best start with social workers, this turned a corner and I worked with a fantastic one who was really prepared to listen and understand. I was referred to Dad's Matter, which has just been the best thing I've ever done. My life has taken a u-turn in the best way."

Dad's Matter is a free 12-week programme run by the Intensive and Specialist Support Service (ISSS) from Norfolk Children's Social Care. It aims to support fathers to have meaningful roles in their children's lives whether they live with or apart from them. The programme teaches them the skills to engage and communicate with their children and work constructively with Children's Services and other professionals. Since it started, it has supported more than 250 fathers which has resulted in more than 540 children having improved relationships and contact. 

Children's Social Care introduced ISSS in June 2020 as part of its transformation programme. It includes intensive parenting and children's mental health specialists, domestic abuse workers, therapeutic workers, and substance misuse workers offering expertise to frontline practitioners working with families.

Keir Brisbane-Langsdon, ISSS team manager, said: "We know how important fathers are to their families, and particularly for the development of their children.

"Dads Matter is a crucial service that addresses this by supporting fathers to embrace a more meaningful role as a parent, and by working with our colleagues to promote this across Children's Services."

Deputy cabinet member for Children's Services Cllr Daniel Elmer said: "We know children will always be far more likely to flourish if they have parents and carers who have the capacity and ability to be truly present in their lives.

"Life can be tough for parents, we know that. But any challenges they are facing don't have to be lifelong, things can get better with the right support. It's our job to provide that support to those parents and carers who are willing to work with us."

Dave said: "I wouldn't be the full-time dad I am now if it wasn't for Dads Matter.

"They made me start really thinking about what I wanted for my life and for my son. It helped me to help myself and I've got so much more confidence now. I'm much calmer and can deal with all the ups and downs so much better.

"It's really done wonders for us, I feel so proud when I think what we've come through - it puts a smile on my face. I recommend Dads Matter to everyone I know."

Dave's case is now closed to Children's Services. Now working full-time in a building and maintenance role, he has had sole care of his son for almost three years and they live together in the Norwich area. His son now five and an energetic and fun-loving boy in his reception year at school with a love of combine harvesters and going to the car wash on a regular basis.

Find out more about Dads Matter

Last modified: 14 May 2024 12:43

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