Dads don’t Babysit – It’s called Parenting!

On the closing day for applications here’s another entry for the St Luke’s CARES Community Awards, submitted by Leeds Dads. For details of how YOUR community group can enter please click here. The deadline for entries is 5pm today (28 February 2018).

Leeds Dads’ founder and Child Friendly Leeds award winner Errol Murray explains how a group of dads in Leeds is changing the way we see fatherhood:

There’s a group of dads in a room. About six of them.

Each has a baby and some of them are crying. A couple of dads are asking the others what to do, but no one has a clear answer. Then again, no one really should, as the most important thing is to be there.

Welcome to Leeds Dads.

We are a voluntary organisation based at The Tetley Art Gallery in Hunslet Road bringing dads together for social interaction and support. For six years we’ve hosted playgroups for dads and kids, organised social events for dads and families, and provided information and signposting to expert parenting support.

I was working away when our daughter Rayya was born, so I wanted to get more quality time with her, but didn’t know what to do. So in 2011 with just a handful of mates and their kids I started the Leeds Dads Group at Leeds City Museum Cafe.

It was such a laugh in the early days, but we were so naïve:

“You got any wipes?”

“No, I’ve got tissues.”

“You’ll need more than tissues mate…”

And we were scared.

Jerry (not his real name) said his working week included a five-hour round trip to work, which already left him feeling guilty:

“When well-wishers asked, how mother and baby were doing, along with my own rollercoaster of emotions, stresses of work and general exhaustion, I was left feeling… isolated and fragile.”

But for Tony (not his real name), there is nothing better than discovering we’re all in the same boat:

“Whether it’s out-grossing each other with a poo-centric horror story, sharing a moment when our child has been a delight, or just knowing someone else is going through a similar tough time (or has come out the other side), it’s pure tonic.”

Dads can have an incredible impact on their childrens lives. The Father Involvement Research Alliance say that babies with more involved fathers are more likely to be emotionally secure, confident in new situations, and eager to explore their surroundings.

If we are nominated, Leeds Dads will use the community fund to continue our free and voluntary work in the local community.

We will continue to run free monthly playgroups for dads, where over 50 dads and kids meet up to enjoy spending time with their (mostly pre-school) children. We will continue to send our parents and children in costume to join the Leeds West Indian Carnival parade.

And then there’s Dadstastic Day – 1500 people at a day of free family fun organised by Leeds Dads at Leeds City Museum. It’s a family event where parents and kids learned to dance with Phoenix Dance and the amazing BoomChikkaBoom Baby Rave, upcycle vinyl to turn records into art, and hundreds of dads were supported to get down with their kids.


This post was written using our Create an article for South Leeds Life page.