A CHARITY which gives practical and emotional support to families who may be struggling with parenting is about to launch the development of its Dad Matters project across Gloucestershire thanks to funding from the Tudor Trust.

Dad Matters Gloucestershire is a project being developed and run partly by Home-Start in Stroud.

The new service will be developed to help the wellbeing and access to services for all dads in Gloucestershire.

The project will aim to help partners to become more involved and to understand their role in early parenting.

Helen Ford, programme director at NHS Gloucestershire Clinical Commissioning Group, said: “New mums and dads need their mental health to be as well cared for as their physical health, and over the past few years in Gloucestershire, we’ve really focused on working with and listening to women and their partners to guide steady improvements and ensure that parents get the support they need.

"We are delighted that Home-Start is bringing a focus to dads with this initiative. Dad Matters will help dads understand the challenges of being a parent and know where to find support if they need it. We welcome this support now more than ever as we emerge from the recent coronavirus pandemic, which has added to the pressures on many parents, and look forward to working with Dad Matters to engage with and support dads.”

The project will be part of the original Dad Matters UK Project set-up and run across Greater Manchester as part of early intervention support from Home-Start HOST.

Alex Corgier, manager for Home-Start Stroud and Gloucester, said: “We are going to be working with, and within, the framework of Dad Matters UK as we recognise that they already have experience and expertise in understanding the needs of dads in the early days of parenthood and how to best engage with them.

"Obviously the project will be adapted to meet the needs of our own county and we will be working alongside maternity services, mental health and all other organisations engaged with families in the early years, to create a holistic package of support and information. This will also tie in with the recent launch of DadPad in Gloucestershire which is a brilliant new resource for families.”

Kieran Anders, project lead for Dad Matters UK, said: “It’s so exciting to think that the Dad Matters initiative, born in Tameside over three years ago as peer support service for dads, is now expanding to Gloucestershire. We help dads to have the best possible relationships with their families by supporting attachment and bonding with their babies, providing information and support around mum’s and dad’s mental health, by facilitating access to those services best suited to help dads that they might not have thought about approaching before, and we talk about labour, birth and parenting in a dad friendly way.

Home-Start in Gloucestershire’s Dad Matters project will look to recruit Volunteers to host Dad Chat groups within antenatal classes or during outreach in antenatal and postnatal clinics. Due to social distancing measures in response to the Covid-19 pandemic, Dads can no longer be reached in person at clinics. Dad Matters will work to also develop online services including virtual groups allowing discussions around baby’s development, consoling, sleep, parents’ wellbeing and accessing services. Currently Dads aren’t able to be with their partners/spouses during antenatal appointments, or sometimes during the first stages of labour but still want to be close to offer support. This has led to a number of Dads waiting outside maternity centres or in their cars.

Dad Matters will work with Maternity Services in Gloucestershire to develop ways to engage with Dads at such a pivotal time, and will develop a pilot of how to best engage with dads at the earliest opportunities. This might be initiatives like setting up pop-up stalls that could be located outside maternity centres, following all social distancing and hygiene guidelines and manned by experienced and approachable staff and volunteers. Dads will be able to discuss any aspect of pregnancy, birth and beyond with the team, access useful information and can be signposted to additional services if appropriate.