Engaging with fathers in a local Sure Start – MRM Southampton

13 June 2006

A research study into the effectiveness of fathers work at Sure Start MRM (near Southampton).

You can download the report at the bottom of this page – right click the link and select “Save Target As…”

Equality of access is often centred on access to employment, yet it also applies to access to service provision. Early years’ and family services have traditionally reached mothers and their children, with little involvement of fathers. The new Sure Start local programme initiative was set up to reduce the barriers to services experienced by socially excluded families but has had little success in reaching fathers in its service provision.

Sure Start Millbrook, Redbridge and Maybush (Sure Start MRM) in Southampton is run by Southampton City Council and employed a fathers’ worker to engage with fathers and ascertain what services they would like. This research project was set up to evaluate the work done so far and to find out whether fathers in the area felt included in their local Sure Start. It also investigated the possibility that the provision of a Saturday morning breakfast group may have sidelined fathers into their own provision.

Questionnaires and individual interviews were used to gain quantitative and qualitative data. It was recognised that there were limitations to the amount of information that could be collected in individual interviews due to time
constraints and that the experiences of individual fathers would not provide sufficient information to allow generalisations of fathers’ experiences to be made.

The results showed that most of the fathers returning the questionnaire were aware of Sure Start MRM and the services available but there was also a lack of knowledge about times, days and venues. Over 50% had been to the Saturday Daddy Cool breakfast group and almost all of these were satisfied with the service. The interviews provided more in-depth information on reasons for not accessing the service, exploring the issues of barriers and enablers, attitudes of staff and other parents and additional services that could be provided.

Sure Start MRM – Engaging Fathers

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