‘Why should the mums have all the fun?’
‘Because I’m at work all week, I felt I was missing out on seeing my children socialize with others their own age.’
‘I love the bacon rolls!’
These are some of the comments from dads who come to Dadz Hoppers, a toddler group especially for fathers and their children. It is run by The Hub Community Project which is linked to Hope Community Church in Wymondham, Norfolk. Andy Latham tells us about this popular group.
It all began when my wife, Sue, attended the first Playtime conference and heard a speaker talking about groups that were accessible for dads to attend with their children. She was really challenged by the idea, and it wasn’t too long before she got a small team together – including myself – to see if we could get something going.
Unlike the Parent and Toddler Group that runs during the week, Dadz Hoppers is open to children of all ages. This means that all fathers – including those who may only have their children at the weekend – can come to an inexpensive, fun place.
The speaker at the Playtime conference suggested that the way to reach men was through food. How right he was! The bacon rolls and coffee that we offer the dads is hugely popular. There are similarities to the midweek toddler groups with toys and crafts available, but the group is run by male volunteers (who even make the tea and coffee) – no ladies allowed. We found that it took a while for the group to establish itself, but our town centre location was of benefit, because mums could go shopping and drop dad off to play.
We had to change venue for about a year and the numbers dropped off, so location is important. However we kept going for the few regulars and since relocating back to the town centre, numbers have escalated again. Some months up to 25 dads come along, many with more than one child.
The group meets on the first Saturday morning of each month and we charge £1.50 to cover the cost of bacon rolls and the children’s toast and drinks. We have an agreement with the cafe next door which provides the bacon rolls for us (it’s a great way to build up our relationships with the community!).
Dadz Hoppers is open to all dads, regardless of religion, race or marital status. We make sure that there’s information available to the men about Church activities and we have a regular calendar of events as part of our Men’s Ministry, which they are invited to attend.
Apart from that vital tip about food (!), our main piece of advice is to make sure that the group is strongly linked to the midweek toddler group, as you can give each other valuable insights, behind the scenes support and opportunities to contact the families you serve.
If you are considering starting a men’s group … go for it! The men love having that special time to spend with their children and relax with other dads. We’ve been amazed to hear them chatting away about their child’s achievements and milestones as this is something that men can often feel awkward about at work. Dadz Hoppers is now an important part of our service to the families in our community and it’s a great privilege to be involved.
This information is supplied in good faith, but Care for the Family cannot accept responsibility for any advice or recommendations made by other organisations or resources.