estate and beyond at least three times, meeting fathers and other outreachprofessionals, and putting forwardthe SureStart agenda.Lee ran his Fathers’ Groups at theEx Service Mans’ Club on alternateweeks, befriending fathers anddiscussing their issues.After Lee had moved on, we werelucky enough to have the help of
, the most active Fathers’ Groupparticipant, volunteering to lead it between November and January.Alan, (who with his experience as bus driver beat all the other dads to claimfirst prize on the Karting day) lives on the Kingstanding estate, close to “ThePimple”, in one of the areas suffering most from poor housing design and “antisocial behaviour”. Alan was the key to a deeper understanding of local lifeand the realities and expectations of local fathers.Alan took over the biweekly Fathers’ Meeting, but this had now outgrown itsusefulness and relevance. We worked together to follow up Lee’s plan tocreate a snooker session, and while this generated some interest it finallyproved unworkable.
FACT - While volunteering at the branch Alan became interested intraining to be a Fathers’ Worker professionally. Working Links picked uphis reemployment contract and have given him the opportunity toretrain.
3. Prospects for Local Fathers - “Worklessness” at the root ?
Outwardly, Kingstanding seems a pleasant and stable place to live and raise afamily. It is highly accessible from central Birmingham, with well maintainedpublic transport, infrastructure and roads. Land use is fairly well zoned, andthere are excellent schools, shops, a library and a modern leisure centre.Many houses have their own gardens, and there is also abundant greenspace - yet it features so prominently in Government deprivation indexes
The movement out of the area of the two major semi-skilled employers – WestMidlands Transport and IMI - has lead to a sense of dislocation anddisenfranchisement amongst local men.
‘Employability’ is the capacity to gainand keep a job, to cope with changes at work and in the wider economy, andthe ability to get a new job if necessary
. Promoting the employability of parents is an important function of SureStart local programmes.
FACT - Current research links parental employability with children’smental health, behaviour and social integration.
There is also evidence
Work and Play with Fathers