Today we are celebrating International Men’s Day, a worldwide annual event which invites everyone to come together and honour men and boys in all their diversity. Each year, themes give guidance to organisations and people to help them consider how they can support and address some of the issues that affect men and boys. The three core themes this year are:

  • Making a positive difference to the wellbeing and lives of men and boys
  • Raising awareness and/or funds for charities supporting men and boys’ wellbeing
  • Promoting a positive conversation about men, manhood and masculinity

The core themes aim to raise awareness of issues that can affect men and boys such as; suicide, men’s health, victims of violence, including sexual violence, and problems which occur where boys are missing a father-figure in their lives. This is where the critical work of Lads Need Dads comes in.

Founded in 2015 and based in North East Essex, Lads Need Dads CIC is a Queens award-winning Not-For-Profit Community Interest Company, and the only long term early intervention project of its kind in the UK, set up to prevent potential problems and address existing ones where boys are missing a father-figure in their lives.

Sonia Shaljean, Founder and Director of Lads Need Dads CIC said; “Research has shown that children with highly involved dads do better at school, have higher self-esteem, are less likely to get into trouble in adolescence and are less likely to suffer behavioural problems in their pre-teen years compared to children without a father figure at home. According to the UK’s leading Think Tank, the Centre of Social Justice, 2.9 million children in the UK have no father figure at home and 1.1 million have little or no contact with their father at all. That’s equivalent to the whole population of Essex, Suffolk and Norfolk combined!

Lads Need Dads aim is to equip and empower boys during the critical ages of 11 to 15 to be motivated, responsible, capable, resilient and emotionally competent. Prevention is crucial in reducing the growing number of boys coming from fatherless homes each year who under achieve at school, struggle with their mental health, are excluded from school, or engage in offending behaviour.  Lads Need Dads is an evolving organisation which started at grassroots level with one vision; to ‘prevent’ future generations of young males with absent fathers becoming high risk and a future statistic.

Our core services include an 18-month early intervention groupwork programme, called Equip, Engage and Inspire incorporating personal development, outdoor activities, practical life-skill training, community volunteering, peer mentoring and leadership opportunities. Once completed, boys become Ambassadors and can attend an open-ended well-being group to continue accessing mentor and peer support.  A high percentage of boys who complete our programmes not only increase in emotional literacy, confidence, motivation, self-esteem, have improved relationships, attitude and educational attainment at school, but additionally have improved relationships and/or renewed relationships with their biological fathers from whom they were initially estranged.

Lads Need Dads works with cohorts of boys across Colchester and Tendring both inside and outside of school. Each cohort consists of 8 boys and is supported by a team of four male mentors and a facilitator. They also provide support and sign-posting for their mums and carers via the Family support workers.

Absence can take many forms. Approximately 20% of boys referred, have fathers who have died, and the majority have left the family home due to relationship breakdown. Some may live away or abroad. Some boys may have never met their father. Many of the boys struggle with feelings of abandonment and low self-esteem, due to the lack of interest and/or a father’s love in their lives and some are referred to the programme with anger issues, which often appear to stem from a lack of trust.”

Lads Needs Dads is a perfect project to highlight on International Men’s Day, because without interventions like this, problems for young boys may contribute to negative behaviours or poor mental health. Having a father-figure in a child’s life cannot be underestimated.

To find out more about Lads Need Dads, click here.