Tameside man to help show Dad Matters

A Tameside man is helping new dads across the area play a bigger role in their child’s early years after being appointed a charity’s first co-ordinator.

Mic Cullen has landed the role with the group, which works closely with ante-natal groups across Greater Manchester.After starting in Tameside, the group is spreading across all 10 boroughs to make sure fathers-to-be and new fathers’ roles are not overlooked.

It also tries to help ease the worries any future fathers may have, working with them and involving any agencies that are needed.

And after being impressed by the work of the organisation, which was founded two-and-a-half years ago by Kieran Anders, Mic could not help but get on board.

The 38-year-old, who lives on Huddersfield Road, said: “I followed Dad Matters from when my wife was pregnant and it’s evolved from there.

“I had a passion for it and the role jumped out at me. Now I’m recruiting, managing and training volunteers for the group.

“There’s different meetings around the area where we promote good mental health for dads.

“We go to ante-natal groups and classes and try and get hold of dads as early as we possibly can to get them thinking of how they’ll be when baby arrives. Also, if they have any worries or concerns.

“We get a schedule of ante-natal classes so we know when we can go and do what we call dad chats.”

Kieran, who has worked with hundreds of men, added: “Mic’s the first co-ordinator in Tameside, Greater Manchester and indeed the world!

“It feels like new dads are overlooked a bit at times, often as they make sure mum and baby are well.

“That’s okay. It’s all right for us to say, ‘You might feel left out as that’s how it is.’ But your mental health and responsibility for care giving is really important.

“A lot of dads don’t know the difference between a health visitor and a midwife. They think they do the same job.

“Dad Matters covers the whole of Greater Manchester. We have a presence in every area and hope to be at every ante-natal class in the future.

“We do the universal stuff on babies’ development and mental health and how it’s linked but we can also do more targeted work, like drop-ins for dads whose babies are on NICU intensive care units, in units where mothers are suffering from mental health issues and teen dads.

“From working just in Tameside, we built up a picture of what dads want in what’s called the perinatal period, from conception to being two-years-old.

“Eighty per cent of babies’ brains develop in the first two years, so it’s critical we get dads to understand their role in that development.

“We have seven volunteers at the moment delivering talks but once we get more, we’ll see more and more dads.”

Dad Matters is part of the Home-Start HOST – which stands for Oldham, Stockport and Tameside – group.

However, Oldham and Rochdale are involved, as are potentially Bolton and Salford
As well as the many volunteers that give up their time to work with them, its team also includes members of staff at the Tameside Early Attachment Service (NHS) with links to midwifery, health visiting, mental health services and voluntary sector organisations across Greater Manchester.

Home-Start chief executive Sarah Cook said: “Home-Start has supported families with young children in Tameside and Oldham for years.

“However, our support has largely been taken up by mums so it has been great to develop our Dad Matters programme over the last couple of years to make sure dads also get the support and information they need.

“We are really glad to have Mic on board and working with Kieran in developing our work so that we can benefit even more dads and their families.”

Dads or dads-to-be can look at what Dad Matters do via its pages on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter or its videos on YouTube.

Its website – www.dadmatters.org.uk – is also split into individual areas of Greater Manchester and women can also volunteer through Home-Start.

Anyone interested in volunteering can also email Kieran at kierananders@homestarthost.org.uk

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