New Brighton event will end social isolation for dads

Around 150 Brighton dads and children are planning to take over an award-winning workspace for rap battles, toy fixing, Lego and craft sessions to help tackle social isolation.

Dan and son Nat
Dan and son Nat

Worthing based, father-of-one Dan Flanagan, launched his Dad La Soul group in 2017, as an answer to the struggles he faced as a stay at home dad.

Now he is launching in Brighton on October 17 at Platf9rm on Church Road, Hove at 11am.

Dan explains: “Turn to Facebook or Google to look for something to do with the kids, you’ll be inundated with replies for mum and toddler groups, but what happens if you are a dad?

“The usual answers are for dads to hover around parks on their own or head to soft-play centres to be surrounded by people staring at their phones.”

Dad La Soul is Dan’s answer, a grassroots movement that uses the arts, music, tech and play to tackle social isolation in dads and kids. It will run at Platf9rm with monthly Saturday morning sessions.

“Activities planned include soft-play, crafting, filmmaking, stand-up comedy, robot-making, seaweed tasting beach raves, toy repair and dad and kid rap battles, hosted by Brighton’s own Audio Active.”

Dan established the group two years ago in Worthing and has seen it grow considerably with more than 500 dads/carers/grandfathers/guardians and their children, coming from as far as Eastbourne to access the programme.

“Dad La Soul is a lot of fun but there is a serious message behind it. We bring the dads and kids together with amazing activities, to break down barriers and start conversations which dads may not have otherwise.

“Being a dad can be quite a lonely life, but men don’t like to talk about it. But once you get over those initial barriers and have conversations, you start to see a different side of blokes. We don’t just want to talk about beer and the footie. We want to have fun and play with our kids without judgement, but have someone understand how hard it can be having to see your children often because of the commute.

“I think it shows quite distinctly that what we are doing is so important in giving dads a safe space and the ideas of what we have created are spreading like wildfire.

“We are building an ever-growing national network of Saturday morning clubs for dads, stepdads, male careers, granddads and their kids.

“Our activities bring strangers together, challenge conventions, spark conversations and start friendships in dads that perhaps can otherwise struggle in silence or isolation.

“With 84 men, aged under 45, being lost to suicide in the UK every week, the more we can do to get men talking the better.

“Dad La Soul is essentially the dad version of when women go to the toilet together at the pub and put the world to rights. Except in this world, it’s in the gents’ toilets that have excellent baby changing facilities as standard!”

In addition to organising the groups, the Dad La Soul team have been busy producing a series of short films, a radio show and an online magazine with 18 dads now writing for it.