Reaching out to fathers: enhancing engagement in the perinatal period

  • Run by Home-Start Oldham, Stockport and Tameside, in partnership with Pennine Care NHS Foundation Trust, the Child Outcomes Research Consortium, and NHS Tameside and Glossop Clinical Commissioning Group
  • Aimed to better engage and support fathers in Tameside and Glossop during the perinatal period
  • Developed resources and provided support to help and encourage fathers to get involved and improve their knowledge of family relationships, child development and parents’ mental health
  • Ran from January 2017 to April 2018

Fathers are often overlooked during the perinatal period and may be at risk of developing poor mental health. Depression has been identified in 7–30% of new fathers, with low-income or first-time fathers being particularly vulnerable.

To develop new ways of engaging and supporting fathers, a ‘Dad Matters’ service has been developed by Home-Start Oldham, Stockport and Tameside, and partners.

‘Dad Matters’ branded resources were developed, including a website, antenatal briefing sheets and a series of short films, and a social media presence established. A series of modules were created to be delivered in a group setting or one-to-one. A monthly drop-in at an established local dads’ group was set up, and Home-Start staff and volunteers were trained in the importance of engaging fathers.

The team worked with 537 fathers, which included 17 needing one-to-one support, 80 in antenatal clinics and 50 in antenatal sessions. There have been 360 likes on the Facebook page and 30 fathers were involved in the making of the films.

Results have shown greater involvement of fathers in local services, and an increase in the knowledge and confidence of new fathers. Fathers made an improvement in mental health wellbeing scores following the intervention, and a higher percentage of fathers who completed a Parent Infant Questionnaire answered the questions correctly following engagement with the programme.

Improvements were also seen in the wellbeing of fathers who received one-to-one support.

The project was enabled by a strong partnership between a local family support charity and specialist NHS services. The appointment of a ‘Dads Champion’ was key, as was social media as a way of engaging fathers.

Finding ongoing funding was challenging, but it has now been secured from the local council. The team is looking to expand the work to other areas of Greater Manchester.

Contact information

For more information about this project, please  Sarah Cook, Chief Executive, Home-Start Oldham, Stockport and Tameside.

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