Nurse Awards

Project helps ‘struggling dads’ regain their confidence

Heather Henry’s scheme has rejuvenated relationships between fathers and their children 

A unique nurse-led project in a deprived area of Salford in Manchester has been helping disadvantaged children by improving their fathers’ wellbeing.

Heather Henry

Heather Henry has used ‘positive deviance’ techniques to give struggling dads in Little Hulton confidence and reduce their isolation, with the aim of halting negative spirals of drink, drugs, crime and violence, and stopping disadvantage being passed down through generations.

Positive deviance involves handing leadership duties to people whose uncommon behaviours might lead them to create novel solutions to problems. Heather’s role was to nurture the fathers in this role.

The project has made the shortlist of the Child Health category of the RCNi Nurse Awards 2016.

The award, sponsored by specialist journal Nursing Children and Young People (NCYP), recognises innovation that improves the care of children and young people.

Heather’s first step in the project was to invent a children’s competition called Men Behaving Dadly in which children in eight primary schools used words and pictures to say why their dad was the best. The competition was led and judged by ‘struggling dads’ referred to the project.

Heather Henry

Heather, a Queen’s Nurse, says: ‘The effect on these fathers was startling and they rapidly increased in confidence, started meeting weekly and eventually became an independent, formally constituted community group called Salford Dadz.’

The group launched a Saturday dads and kids club, the first of many initiatives to help them bond with each other and their children.

Children have seen a different side to their fathers and have new respect for them. They trust their dads more and feel safer and valued; their own confidence has grown.

They also recognise that their behaviour has changed in response to the change in their dad’s behaviour.

Heather says: ‘I am elated that a nurse practising social innovation and entrepreneurship would be recognised by my profession. I entered the awards to demonstrate what true partnership with fathers and their children looks like. This is an acknowledgement of all our work, not just mine.

‘Salford Dadz have transformed these fathers’ lives by enabling them to share their strengths and, in doing so, this has transmitted itself to their children, with the potential to disrupt inequality passing down generations.

‘Service delivery is not the whole answer – active citizenship builds wellbeing and resilience. It is sustainable, without recourse to the public purse and it delivers cashable savings.’

About the sponsor

Nursing Children and Young People (NCYP)

Nursing Children and Young People is the UK’s leading journal covering practical and evidence-based practice in child health nursing. Nursing Children and Young People is packed full of summaries of published research studies, commentary on research, opinion pieces from leading figures in children’s nursing and students, plus listings of conferences, awards and other resources. The journal also provides a comprehensive news round-up and news analysis to ensure you never miss important developments in children and young people’s nursing. Subscribe to the journal here.

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