Over the last five years The Dad Course has helped hundreds of men in Brighton prepare for fatherhood. We bring together experienced dads with dads-to-be to teach practical skills, talk through what the birth will really look like (and how they can be supportive), share stories and think about what the transition into parenthood will really look like. The men who come on the course tell us that it is crucial for their preparation and makes a real difference, leaving them more prepared, confident and ready to be dads.
When the Covid pandemic hit we began delivering The Dad Course via Zoom. Since doing that, we've been overwhelmed with demand. We've received bookings from across the UK and further afield too. In fact, we've had so much interest that we've actually had to turn people away. The message is clear: Dads-to-be want to build their confidence, skills, knowledge and network - but they need somewhere to do this.
They need much more support than is currently on offer. We have the content, the people and the track record, all ready to go. Reaching our target will not only allow us to meet existing demand, but will be a game changer in allowing us to reach thousands more men at this crucial transitional time of life. Our reach will be extended from just Brighton to across the whole UK - and beyond. We have a plan of how to make this happen but it will only be possible through the recording and delivery of the online version of the course, and that requires YOUR help.
Will you join us? Your support will be genuinely transformative in allowing us to do this, and make change happen for men, their partners and their babies. THANK YOU!
You've hopefully now heard (and watched!) all the most important stuff, but if you'd like to know more feel free to keep reading!
We've listed a number of questions below, and linked below to the TedX talk I did, and you can also take a look at our website to get more of a feel for what we're up to. If you have any other questions though, or just want to say hi, please don't hesitate to get in touch - we'd love to hear from you.
We get overwhelmingly positive reviews from men who comes on our courses - rating at 5/5 on both Google and Facebook reviews. Here are a selection of quotes, taken from Google and Facebook:
"The Dad Course gave me a wealth of knowledge that I never knew that I needed or was perhaps afraid to ask at our antenatal class."
"It was very accessible and practical. I had done an antenatal course too and found it a bit overwhelming with all the info thrown at you, but The Dad Course was very relaxed and just focused on the practical things dad's can do during labour and in the first few months, and what to expect."
"What an amazing day, didn't think I could learn so much and feel so much more prepared for parenthood!"
"A space for dads-to-be to share their worries and find counsel. Better than any other courses I did."
You can also watch this little clip reel of dads talking about the course, which we've gathered recently.
There is tons of evidence to show how crucial this time window is for investing in dads and what a profound difference it can make to them, their babies and their partners.
I was recently in a meeting with NHS and social care staff and one of the leaders of the meeting shared a literature review of some of the available research in the area. This is a very lightly edited summary of the key findings provided:
- Early intervention is key in this area, particularly during pregnancy/following the birth when men are often redefining themselves as caring father.
- Men can feel silenced and marginalised in the parenting arena.
- Men often see their role as starting around childhood, as opposed to babyhood.
- Single gender space tends to be the place where men feel able to open up.
- Courses designed specifically for men are cited as advisable and helpful.
The Dad Course addresses all of this.
And the research doesn't end here. Evidence suggests that, despite some progress, parenting is still often a gendered role, with expectations of women often wildly different to those of men. However the evidence is clear that more involved dads/partners is a wonderful thing for children. Indeed, a 2020 study suggested that co-parenting was a better predictor of positive outcomes for a child than their economic situation, where they live or their education.
In short, when a child has an absent father or a dad who isn't positively involved in their life, there is a whole raft of issues that are more likely to occur including poor educational attainment, involvement in the criminal justice system, substance misuse issues and much more. It also has an impact on mothers. Women with an actively involved partner are more likely to earn more, report that they have a satisfying career and are less likely to experience mental health problems.
The level of support currently offered to partners bears no resemblance to the difference it can make in both the short and long run.
We've already adapted the content of The Dad Course to work via Zoom, and with a few small tweaks we have something that will work brilliantly in a recorded format. Men who sign up will be able to access this recorded content (a mixture of practical skill building, tips for birth and beyond, and prompts to help think about the journey into fatherhood) at any time and in a way that is convenient to them.
In addition to this the dads-to-be will also each attend a live group Q+A session, where they can ask all and any questions, either in person or anonymously. And we know that these guys have a lot of questions and not many places to ask them! The dads-to-be will also be put into peer support groups of 12, with other men expecting babies around the same time as them. This gives them a crucial community of people who understand them and their situation, and who are able to provide ongoing support.
The Dad Course is a social enterprise. If you're not sure what that is, the simplest way to understand it is a halfway house between a business and a charity.
Like a business, we receive income and trade, taking paid bookings from those who can afford it. This allows us to be financially sustainable for the long run, and means we don't have to rely on hand-outs to keep us running month to month.
However like a charity, we have social good written into our foundational legal documents, which means that the way we use our money, and what we are trying to achieve, must match up to our stated social mission of helping men prepare for fatherhood, and be the best dads they can be.
We have lots of experience in charities, social enterprises and business and we believe this approach gives us the best of all worlds.
Lots! I (Dave!) like to think I've got a lovely mix of experience which leaves me really well positioned to develop The Dad Course from where I've already taken it to in the last five years.
I have previously worked in management roles in local charities, delivering youth work programmes including drop-ins, mentoring projects and after school clubs. Within this sector I've also worked for a local funder, helping assign small grants (£5000 or less) to grassroots community projects, and coaching the individuals leading those projects.
I also have experience of working in social enterprise. I was the store leader of the successful Brighton CIC Hisbe for it's first 18 months, playing a key role in ensuring the smooth day-to-day running of this ethical food store and helping the business get off to great start.
As well as spending part of my time looking after my kids, I currently also work part-time for Gamely Games as Head of Business Development. This role includes helping the business develop (duh!), ensuring the 'engine' of the business is sound (IE. sales and finances), helping us make the most of new opportunities and ensuring that we continue to follow through on our (pretty amazing!) commitments to make the world a better place through the business.
Although I feel really well placed to help The Dad Course grow, I also know that I don't know everything. I've been fortunate to get to know a number of wonderful people through the work I've listed above, and people from all these different places are helping me with The Dad Course - some through general advice and feedback, and others in more formal roles. It's great to be supported by so many wonderful people!
We do! As well as working on our plan to reach more dads with the online version of the course, if we reach our crowdfunding target, the next exciting possibility would be partnering with local charities and health services to develop tailored versions of The Dad Course which could cater to specific groups. Building on the core content, we would be able to tweak and adapt parts to allow particular health and wellbeing messages to gain extra emphasis - all rooted in real stories from experienced dads, as always. For instance, we could develop unique additional material on topics such as anger management and emotional regulation or substance misuse, with a specific target audience in mind.
For me this is extremely exciting, and gets to the heart of one of my reasons for starting the project. It would mean that dads who are in need of this extra help wouldn't need to feel singled out as special cases. Instead they would receive all the same content as everyone else, with a few extra bits of support and guidance built in for them, that can have a really profound impact. Although it's very early days for this, I've received really enthusiastic early feedback on this from people who could help make this happen.
Beyond that I'd love to put together something designed for dads in the first year of fatherhood. This can often be a shock to the system, and be a time of vulnerability for men and their partners. I believe that offering something with a focus on reflection, wellbeing and building support & resource for new dads would meet a real unmet need, particularly for those who did not attend The Dad Course pre-birth. This is really just the start, and there's much more I could say, so watch this space!
Funny you should ask - I did!
Throughout our crowdfunding campaign we will post regular updates here on Crowdfunder, and post at least weekly on social media. But we would love to stay in touch on an ongoing basis, so when you donate please do allow us to stay in touch via email. We've got big plans for the future and we'd love to let you know as they unfold.