On the Ground: Children North East

John Plummer

Scheme: Regional Resource Centre for Fatherhood

Objectives: To promote father-friendly practices in the workplace and support other fathers' organisations

Funding: £212,000 from the Parenting Fund

Children North East is to open the first regional resource centre for fatherhood after receiving a £212,000 grant from the Parenting Fund. The centre will work with other organisations to increase parenting services for dads in the north east.

Children North East was one of 137 voluntary organisations awarded grants totalling £16m by the Parenting Fund.

Children's minister Margaret Hodge launched the fund, which invests in parenting support projects run entirely by the voluntary sector, in May.

Other awards include £307,000 to Fathers Direct.

Children North East, founded in 1891, established a Fathers Plus Project in 1997 to take a collaborative approach to promoting fatherhood services in the region.

The new funding, which is in addition to an existing £150,000 grant awarded by the Bernard van Leer Foundation, will enable the charity to step up its work by opening the regional resource centre in its Durham office.

The centre will include a library and web facilities for fathers, male carers and fathers' groups that are seeking guidance. It will also co-ordinate the development of new resources and research within the field.

Staff at the centre will work with other organisations, such as ContinYou and Fathers Direct, to encourage public sector organisations in particular to adopt more father-friendly approaches to staff. For example, it will offer organisations the chance to undertake the Open College Network-accredited 'Developing Men (Father) Friendly Organisations' training.

Roger Olley, project manager of Fathers Plus Project, said the centre was a fantastic opportunity to take the project's work on to another level.

"It will allow for the development of a regional strategic view of the needs of fathers and will facilitate that view being acted on," he said.

"We think the centre is unique," added Tom Adams, acting director at Children North East. "Hopefully, others will pick up on what we're doing and take things forward."

Adams thought the funding came in spite of, rather than because of, the provocative stunts by Fathers 4 Justice. "Fathers 4 Justice stunts are negative and undermine a lot of the good work done by organisations such as ours," he said.

"We need fathers to behave in a responsible manner. I understand their frustrations, but I think that their approach is inappropriate."

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