Case Study (Drugs and Alcohol/Vulnerable Families): Dads Kick Out Drugs by Using A Football

21 August 2007

What: Dads’ anti-drugs project
Where: Hull
When: Since 2001
Funding: SRB6 and European Social Fund

In 2000, the Kirklands’ Area Neighbourhood Watch commissioned a study, to highlight issues pertinent to the local people and their well-being A major shock was when the researchers undertaking the study were, themselves, directly approached by drug dealers.

This led to the idea of a football team to promote drug awareness to children and to the wider community – and, in June 2001, the Dads Against Drugs football team community programme was launched at the first DADs’ Conference in Hull. Today the organisation is vibrant and expanding.

DADs’ Chairman is Rob Kirkland. Ten years as a nurse in Hull City Hospital A & E had showed him the damage done locally by drugs, with heroin and cocaine the biggest problems. Rob also knows personally other local fathers who have lost family members because of drugs – and who are now leading fathers within DADs.

Fact finding has been important. DADs first raised funds to research the problem locally and work out how to tackle it. The research identified the need for good quality education about drugs for the children – and also found that schools’ resources were severely stretched. Children were still going to their parents for advice on drugs, but many in the older generation knew little about these. Fathers in particular were not clear as to where they would get the ‘authority’ to intervene. ‘With gender equality and women becoming breadwinners, men’s roles in society and within their families are changing quickly’ says Rob ‘and if we are to expect the kids to listen to us we have to get clued up. It’s not enough just to simply pass off your authority as dad’.

DADs decided on a family approach ‘to give ourselves the knowledge base to be able to offer our children informed choices’ and ‘to encourage a healthy lifestyles’ approach for all the family, particularly in relation to leisure and sporting activities’.

Leading from the front

Rob understands that if you want to make people listen and care, you must lead from the front. ‘Children follow what you do, not what you say’ he says ‘and while some of the grown ups practice sport on a regular basis, others only participate occasionally’. DADs is not just about ‘talk’ – it is about being positive role models ‘and in that way encouraging and supporting the youngsters and teenagers who participate in our events’.

’Being a positive role model is all about involving the kids, making them feel part of the community and giving them hope for the future’ explains Paul Hartley, a fellow dad.

And it’s about family too. There are plans for MUMs (Mums United against the Misuse of Substances) and the programme fosters a real family and community ‘feel’.

Bottom-up structure

DADs is well structured. It includes a Board of Trustees, made up of experienced DADs members; an Advisory Committee to help support the professional development of specialist workers; and most importantly, the ‘1966 Committee’, made up of DADs members from local communities, who influence strategy from the ‘bottom-up’.

The programme has gone from strength to strength, with the football team invited to play in communities throughout the City of Hull and East Riding. There’s football outreach, football theatre and crime prevention – and DADs’ events have included a major drug awareness conference and sports personality dinners. But the main activities (which raise both funds and awareness) revolve around football – matches against other DADs’ teams, local sides, celebrity matches. A longer-term aim is to create an innovative programme linking football skills with drug and healthy lifestyle education in both Primary and Secondary Schools.

The fathers’ own development is considered really important: recent SRB6 funding has enabled DADs to employ a Basic Skills Project Co-ordinator, supported by a Basic Skills Tutor to help DADs members to improve literacy, numeracy and IT skills, complemented by a new employability programme (DADSbiz.com), funded by the European Social Fund. Most importantly, through courses in drug awareness and child protection, DADs has created opportunities for its members to learn about, and learn how to talk about, drugs with their children.

In Hull, perhaps the most poignant symbol of hope is the new Community Super Stadium, built on a local park near to the estate where Rob Kirkland grew up. It is a modern multi-sport venue with a capacity for 25,000 spectators – the most visible sign of a healthier future for the city, and for its children.

Contact: Rob Broomfield via Dads Against Drugs, tel 01482 228881.

Click here to read other Fathers Direct case studies.

Please note: The nature of voluntary and community sector funding, and the often crucial role of individuals in creating and sustaining projects, means that case studies described on this website may have changed substantially since time of writing or may no longer be in existence. Nevertheless, each offers insights and learning opportunities relevant to current practitioners.

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