Saturday, 18 July 2009

Islington Dads' Breakfast Club

T was working today so, on the recommendation of a couple of neighbours, the boys and I popped over to a nearby 'Children's Centre' for the regular Saturday morning Dad's drop-in breakfast. A new experience for me and an unfamiliar concept. It's part of the Government's Sure Start programme to give children a helping hand early on in life. I imagine it was based on some research suggesting this sort of Dad-centred support is a good thing. In theory, paying for itself in the long run through better outcomes, I guess.

The Children's Centre, in inner city Islington, is a new building with well-designed, spacious and light rooms, including a chill-out room with soft, coloured lights and bean bags, a landscaped garden with pond, slides, climbing frames and so on and a little open air arena for stories and drama. The five staff were terrifically friendly.

The boys predictably had a good time. I did too. A cooked breakfast was provided for Dads - good quality English with all the trimmings served on a buffet. Fruit juices, buttered toast, nice jams. Chatting to the other Dads, we were all appreciative and not a little amazed that such a facility was open every Saturday morning to anyone. Or, at least, any man who was able to rustle up a small child or two. And free! (There were also enough tasty sausages left over for me to take home half-a-dozen for the boys' lunch).

I would guess that most of the other Dads (there were up to ten of us) were typical Islington professional types: working in media, law and the usual white collar jobs. One guy looked as if he could have done with a bit of help - he had five kids but was having a terrific time with them, chasing them around, driving them into a frenzy of laughter. He was a black guy and had an Obama cap and something of an American accent. One of the others was also American and one had an accent that suggested that he was either American or had learnt American English.

It's probably obvious which way this is going to go: a wonderful amenity provided (today anyway) almost entirely to people who can afford to do without it, all funded by the taxpayer. Remarkable. I can't be too hard on it because it was transparently well intentioned and well done. But it's clearly the sort of thing that shouldn't survive the upcoming squeeze. I must make the most of it!

1 comment:

Deborah Hey-Smith said...

We're looking for dads who want to sing in PIAF - THE CONCERT on March 13th in Queen Elizabeth Hall.
Training will take place at St. Luke's Centre, 90 Central Street, London EC1V 8AJ on Monday and Tuesday evenings (7pm - 10pm) during the period 11/02/13 - 05/03/13 inclusive. Also at the same venue, there will be 2 full day sessions on Sundays 3rd and 10 th March, 10am - 1pm and 2pm - 5pm.

For further information, contact Jenny Sloan on 0121 632 2330 / 07941 918 688.