’10 out of 10’, Tom recommends Hounslow Family Hub ‘Dad’s Play’

Every Tuesday morning, Tom and his two children, Dakota and Jaxx, visit Feltham Family Hub for ‘Dad’s Play’, a free, stay and play group for children aged under four with dads or male carers This is one of the services offering by Hounslow Family Hubs for families with children aged 0-19 or up to 25 years old if they have special educational needs and disabilities (SEND), regardless of their backgrounds. 

With a small group of up to nine fathers, Dad’s Play can offer participants a safe and comfortable place to talk, network and build their confidence in parenting. 

Tom said: “We talk about football, mental health and how we are doing. We can chat about how we are feeling and be honest. We have been discussing nurseries, comparing the viewings that we have had for nurseries that are local to us. It is really valuable. The support, care and recommendations to help that Michelle has provided are all there when we need it. You can leave here feeling that you have learned something more.” 

Michelle is a Family Support Worker who leads the ‘Dad’s Play’ session in Feltham Family Hub, (TW13 5AF.) The session was first set up in the Children’s Centre in Feltham two years ago during the pandemic.

She said: ‘The Dad’s Play session allows participants to take it as they feel. It’s not highly structured. We tidy up and do a bit of singing at the end to help with that transition. I make sure participants know each other’s names as they have their name labels on. They should feel comfortable. Everyone is encouraged to discuss and talk if they want to. It’s always available for them.’

Tom said it is a great start for the day for children attending the session, going home full of fun, joy and excitement after Dad’s Play. His daughter would feel upset when they are not going to the session. 

He added: ‘It’s inspiring to see how my daughter loves this place which is always the highlight of our week. Children can do something different every week. There are things for different types of children. Besides, they can learn to share things with others. With Dakota, she can struggle to share at times.’

Michelle said the session can help dads build relationships with their children. She said: ‘The session can expose dads to different types of play their children can be involved in and get them to see through the eyes of children. Dads are intrigued when I tell them what I have observed in their children. They want to get involved and learn.’

She added: ‘It’s a place for dads. There’s a big mix of people with different personalities. The major change for dads who have joined the session is confidence. They also feel a sense of friendship amongst themselves.’

Tom finds that both parents need to support each other when taking care of families. He explained: ‘We need to get rid of labels about the roles of wives and husbands. Just make it work, but it’s not always easy. But I think you can get into a rhythm and routine. For example, my wife is at the gym now and she’ll come to pick up the kids later. Then I will go to work in the afternoon until late evening. I think it’s important.’

Tom highly recommends dads to join the session: ‘Just get to the table, have a chat, and get to know one another. It is really important for dads to have support. I would recommend it for all dads, 10 out of 10!’ 

Hounslow Families can visit one of the three hubs in Hounslow TW3 4JG, Brentford TW8 0BJ or Feltham TW13 5AF for Start for Life programmes and a range of supporting sessions, Monday to Friday, 9am – 5pm. They can also contact the hubs via email or by phone.