Why I’ve launched ‘Dad La Soul’
Why I’ve launched ‘Dad La Soul’ And Brought In A Stand-Up Comedian To Help Battle Male Suicide.
Hit the playground, WhatsApp or Facebook and ask for help to find a local mum and toddler group, and you’ll be inundated with options.
But what if you are a dad with babies, toddlers or young children? then the situation is entirely different. There is a distinct lack of similar opportunities because dads are often seen as ‘babysitters.
Now I’ve set out to challenge those outdated, preconceived ideas.
I ’m hoping to change them with a new father and child social group called Dad La Soul. It’s a volunteer-run group aims to eradicate the social isolation experienced by dads and give them a fun, welcoming environment where they can spend time with their kids, without judgement.
Activities including beatboxing, Lego, DJ workshops, soft-play, film-making, robot crafting and even stand-up comedy are now part of this ultimate dads and child playdate.
Being a dad can be quite a lonely life, but men don’t like to talk about that. But once you get over those initial barriers and have conversations, these common themes keep coming up. The ones like ‘I had to miss the parents evening or sports day because I couldn’t get home from work’. Or ‘I only get to see my son at bedtime, and I don’t know what to do’.
When you open up those conversations, you start to realise there’s a different side to blokes — we don’t just want to talk about beer and the footie.
We love our kids, music, films, and having fun. We have so many skills to share, but sometimes no one to share them with. As a middle-aged man, it is very embarrassing to stick your hand up and say ‘I need some friends’. Men just don’t talk about things like that.
I’m a dad to a six-year-old and left my corporate job three years ago after becoming frustrated by the long commute. This meant I’d barely arrive home before my son’s bedtime.
The death of my own father made me completely reevaluate my life. I set up my own businesses. — this here magazine that now has 15 dads around the UK sharing their personal stories of modern-day fatherhood and the award-winning, intergenerational rave agency TotRockinBeats.
But when I think back to when I became more of a stay-at-home dad, a few years ago I had access to mother and toddler groups. However, there were very few dads there, and we were not made to feel very welcome. There are questions you have to contend with like ‘why haven’t you got a proper job?’ and ‘are you here just to have an affair?’”
The only other option open to me was visiting soft-play centres, where I was surrounded by people sitting on their phones so, out of sheer frustration, Dad La Soul was born.
Now, we have a group of up to 50 dads and kids that meet monthly on a Saturday and take it in turns to lead the session and teach the group a new skill.
So far we’ve had classes on beatboxing, robot-making and film production alongside the Lego and soft-play equipment. This month we have a special guest in the form of professional comedian Aidan Goatly who will be performing his stand-up set and leading a ‘dad vs kid’ joke-off.
Whether they are stay-at-home dads, dads who have busy working weeks, divorced dads only get to see their children at weekends or stepdads looking to forge deeper bonds with their blended families — everyone is welcome.
We held the first few sessions were held at different locations, including Colonnade House, an art gallery in Warwick Street, Worthing and the headquarters of one of Europe’s leading search marketing agencies, Brighton-based Propellornet.
From June this year, we found a new home at Guildcare, a day-care centre supporting local older people Monday-Friday, which is usually closed at the weekend. We’ve invited men who attend the centre on weekdays have been to join Dad La Soul as “wannabe Grandads”. Once you’ve seen at 4-year-old make friends with an 80-year-old, you wonder why this isn’t more commonplace.
Male friendship is at the heart of the concept because I really believe as men get older, we often become trapped in tiny social circles. Although Dad La Soul will only meet monthly to start, I’ve seen that members have already begun making friends, with some meeting up for a drink or organising play dates of their own. This very simple thing can have a great impact.
Did you know that 84 men under the age of 45, commit suicide every week in the UK? That shit needs to change — That’s why we are now working with the male suicide prevention charity CALM on a national tour that starts in January 2019. If you’ve seen their Project 84 you’ll understand. If you haven’t I urge you to watch this.
What I’m looking to do is build a ‘Dad’s Army’ of these clubs. As we grow, we’ll have a national, if not international, network of dads and that could have a hell of an impact.
For more information on joining ‘Dad La Soul email me on email@example.com.