Dads matter too
Dave Saunders, founder of Tallaght-based From Lads to Dads, with daughter Sophie delivering packs outside the Rotunda

Dads matter too

‘WE SEE you, dads matter too’ is the mantra behind a new initiative that aims to support dads and dads-to-be as they wait outside Dublin’s maternity hospitals due to restrictions.

A new collaborative initiative has been created by community groups based in Tallaght and Clondalkin to give a clear message to dads in a practical way – reminding them that they do matter.

Archways, Blue Skies Initiative and From Lads to Dads are working together on the project, which involves packs being handed out to dads and soon-to-be dads as they wait outside Dublin’s maternity hospitals.

The packs, 65 of which were handed out at the Rotunda and Coombe in September, include information on free parental support programmes offered by Blue Skies, From Lads to Dads and other local projects.

Packs also contain books that dads can read with their children and pens, water and snacks to help pass the time while they wait in the car park.

Dads can also take some time out to chat with the members of Archways, Blue Skies Initiative and From Lads to Dads as they deliver the packs.

Christina Riordan, Project Coordinator of Blue Skies Initiative, in Clondalkin said: “Too often dads are simply not thought of when it comes to the antenatal and postnatal period.

“We do not provide a space for them to feel included and empowered.

“This was even more clear during the last 18 months.

“We have labelled them as ‘visitors’ and ‘companions’ but have ignored that their most important title is ‘father’.

“The sole purpose of this project is to make fathers feel seen and acknowledged.

“They matter! They matter to their partner, and most importantly, they matter to their child.”

Tallaght resident Dave Saunders, who became a dad to daughter Sophie at the age of 17, created From Lads to Dads in 2019 to help create positive pathways into parenthood for young men.

The group has since grown and is being developed, with support from Blue Skies Initiative, into a perinatal service for dads of all ages.

According to Dave, From Lads to Dads is learning through its work how Covid-19 restrictions within maternity hospitals have made fathers feel ‘excluded’, ‘unseen’ and ‘in the way’.

“At From Lads to Dads, we are working hard to change that narrative and support dads, helping them feel included by emphasizing the importance of their role,” Dave said.

“We hear first-hand the many heart-breaking stories from dads – the detrimental effect these restrictions have on them as parents and partners.

Karen Costello from Blue Skies Initiative in Clondalkin with Dave Saunders of From Lads to Dads

“They are excluded from hospital appointments, missing out on the milestones of pregnancy, unable to support the mother of their child through labour, waiting for a phone call to be told to come into the hospital your child is about to be born, only to be ushered back out just after the birth.

“These restrictions tell dads that they do not matter.

“We need to tell dads they matter, and their role as a parent is essential.

“We see you; we are here to support you, to listen to your stories, and to give you a voice.

“You are not a visitor or a guest – you are a dad, a partner, and a role model for the next generation.”

The response to the first packs was ‘overwhelming’, according to Dave, who said many dads were surprised to be recognised in this way.

With support from The Síol Foundation and the Community Foundation for Ireland, more than 200 packs are being prepared, and will be delivered to dads outside Holles Street, The Coombe and Rotunda this Saturday, October 16.

For further information or to learn about community-based supports for dads through all stages of parenthood, call From Lads to Dad on 085 1835953 or follow them on social media.

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