An extraordinary and vital new approach to tackle social isolation for Dads and children of Chichester begins this weekend, with a unique, virtual session of ‘Dad la Soul’ from 11am-1pm, supported by the Chichester Community Development Trust (CCDT). With countless Dad’s struggling with the adjustment from worker, to teacher/parent whilst juggling home working or living with the reality of being furloughed this oasis of fun, frenetic entertainment and downright silliness is a way to connect families, fellow Dads, and long-forgotten skills from their own childhood.
A social enterprise, Dad La Soul, is an important grassroots movement that uses the arts, music, tech and play to tackle social isolation in dads and kids. They facilitate live sessions, usually held in community venues, but are now taking over the alternative world of zoom, whilst remaining nonetheless interactive and inspiring.
Worthing based, father-of-one Dan Flanagan, launched the Dad La Soul group in 2017, as an answer to the struggles he faced as a stay at home dad – a situation which many men are now forced into without notice or preparation, making his experiences invaluable. He is looking at ways to enable Dads not just to survive this period but to create some important memories with their kids.
Dan said ‘Dad La Soul is a lot of fun but there is a serious message behind it. We bring the dads and kids together with amazing activities, to break down barriers and start conversations which dads may not have otherwise.
He continues: ‘Being a dad can be quite a lonely life, but men don’t like to talk about it. But once you get over those initial barriers and have conversations, you start to see a different side of blokes. We don’t just want to talk about beer and the footie. We want to have fun and play with our kids without judgement, but have someone understand how hard it can be living through these altered and challenging times of isolation.”
With 84 men, aged under 45, being lost to suicide in the UK every week prior to the lockdown which may sadly see an even greater number as the financial, family and professional pressures increase, the more we can do to get men talking the better.
“I think it shows quite distinctly that what we are doing is so important in giving dads a safe space and the ideas of what we have created are spreading like wildfire. We are building an ever-growing national network of Saturday morning clubs for dads, stepdads, male carers, granddads and their kids.” Continues Dan.
“These activities bring strangers together, challenges conventions, spark conversations and starts friendships in dads that perhaps can otherwise struggle in silence or isolation.”
CCDT Director, Clare de Bathe, added, “We are looking for ways to support all members of our community and so often family support activities focus on the relationship between mother and child. The reality is that many men are struggling to navigate this new territory of full-time child support and this fantastic programme brings a lightness of touch that provides support whilst enabling real joy – both being so critical at this time. We are so pleased to be work with Dad la Soul on this virtual project and look forward to getting physical sessions underway in the Lodge as soon as it is safe to do so.”
All online events are free of charge, though donations are welcomed from those able to make them at this time. It was though felt hugely important to ensure that nobody should miss out on such support at this time due to financial challenges they may face.
For further information on the event, and to book spaces click here.