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New play scheme bringing dads together

PUBLISHED: 10:19 06 February 2008 | UPDATED: 10:14 22 July 2010

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MUMS cannot come, the dads are quite clear about that,"" says Paul Church. ""They like the fact that it is just them and their children, and it also gives mums a morning to themselves.

MUMS cannot come, the dads are quite clear about that," says Paul Church.

"They like the fact that it is just them and their children, and it also gives mums a morning to themselves."

Mr Church is head of the Willow Children's Centre, in Holbrooke Court, Holloway, where more than 30 fathers turn up every Saturday morning for the Dads Stay and Play sessions.

"It's a chance for the dads to spend time with their kids in an environment that's fun," said Mr Church. "Dads feel isolated. This is a place they can feel comfortable because there are other men doing the same thing, and there are things to do with their kids."

The fathers' group began a year ago, after the Government began pushing to get dads involved in their children's lives.

But at that stage it was more like a counselling session, offering fathers a chance to talk about their relationships with their kids. No-one turned up.

Only when Mr Church and his team of support workers made the sessions activity based, did the numbers grow.

"We set up all the activities like in a nursery," said Mr Church. "The dads sit with other dads, chat about their children and play with them.

"Last year they went on a trip to the seaside, and we're trying to get dads more involved in the running of the group."

Computer programmer Bryan Hogan, of Holbrooke Court, is a regular with his 15-month-old daughter Anuska.

He said: "It's great having Anuska in a different social context other than just in the park or with my partner. It gives her a chance to interact with other kids and I get to chat to other dads.

"There's a laidback atmosphere. Dads tend to do a bit more boisterous play, and whereas mums talk about their concerns for the child, with dads it's different.

"There's one guy from California and because we're just about to go to Australia I've been finding out from him what it's like to take a baby on the plane and that sort of thing."

Anyone interested in joining the group, should turn up at Willow Children's Centre, Holbrooke Court, 23 Tufnell Park Road, N7, between 10am and 1pm every Saturday in term time. For information call Suzanne on 07931 470 627.


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