"Experiences at Sure Start dad's group"

About: Mansfield & Ashfield

(as a volunteer/advocate),

After attending a midweek playgroup in Selston set up by Sure Start I was recommended by a member of staff about a playgroup for dads once a month at the weekend. Being in full time employment and not being able to attend midweek playgroups with my daughter I was very happy to attend this.

On my first visit to Dads Group I felt quiet nervous and I didn’t know what to expect, this was soon eased by the welcoming staff there they made me and my daughter feel very welcome. My daughter enjoys all the events put together by the Sure Start team at Dads group and most importantly the very messy play, she enjoys it so much she asks every weekend if we are going again.

At the beginning of this year I was asked whether I’d like to volunteer for dads group, and I was delighted to take up the opportunity. I get involved in setting up the group and helping out the staff with lunch and tidying up. While volunteering for Sure Start I have the opportunity to take part in training courses to improve my volunteering skills also volunteer meetings to discuss upcoming events and give out new ideas etc. Unfortunately being in full time employment I have missed these opportunities as these events are arranged during weekdays and during my hours of work.

Showing my interest in this line of work I have also being asked whether I would like to take up a childcare course with Sure Start. I was delighted to have this chance but unfortunately I later found this course required me to give 12 hours a week of work experience. These hours would be made up during week day events, this again isn’t possible for me while I'm in full time employment.

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Responses

Response from Karon Foulkes, General Manager, Sure Start, Health Partnerships - Nottinghamshire Healthcare We are preparing to make a change

Thank you for your positive comments about your experiences in your local Sure Start Children's Centre. I am glad your centre made the most of your enthusiasm and skills to help run the Dads group. I know the crucial role volunteers play in our centres and am always impressed by the time and level of committment volunteers make. I will ensure the other centres who run Dads groups learn from the good practce your group demonstrates.

I am sorry you have experienced barriers as someone in full time employment, to taking volunteer and childcare training further. We try to meet the needs of working parents in a range of ways such as weekend antenatal sessions, bank holiday family learning events and early evening or weekend baby massage and as you know weekend dads groups. I think we could do more. I will be talking to the coordinators and community workers about the possibility and demand for running such courses out of the working week, particulary if it means we have more volunteers who can then support delivery of our services to meet the needs of a wider range parents in the district.

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Response from Karon Foulkes, General Manager, Sure Start, Health Partnerships - Nottinghamshire Healthcare We have made a change

Just to update my previous response- In response to your comments we have now run a successful session for volunteers in the evening on Domestic Violence and have planned to run a number of new volunteer and update evening sessions in Ashfield this year (2013) so all parents can have easier access to volunteering.

Many thanks for your input to making this change.

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