Posted inNews

Free course for new dads and dads-to-be starts in Torfaen this week

three men stood in a row
Michael O’Neil (centre) with Jacob Guy (left) from Torfaen Council (Photo: Torfaen Council)

A free programme that gives new and expectant dads the support and skills needed to be a good parent starts this week.

Last summer, Cwmbran Life met two dads who were on Torfaen Council’s For Dads, By Dads programme course and found out how it had helped them. Elliott Hill and Andrew Mainwairing shared their experiences of the ten-week course during a 30-minute walk around Cwmbran Boating Lake.

Last November, Cwmbran Life sat with around a dozen dads in a meeting room at Pontypool Leisure Centre to find out what happens in a session. Each week, they start with a walk around the park for a chat and catch-up. Expert speakers are invited to cover a range of topics including men’s mental health, baby first aid, midwife information and health and wellbeing.

It was good fun with lots of stories, personal experiences and advice shared in the room. The aim is to help dads link up with each other. The group have a WhatsApp group to keep in touch between sessions.

Michael’s story

This month another dad has told how the programme transformed his approach to fatherhood and improved his well-being.

Michael O’Neil, 39, from Cwmbran, started the programme in February 2023, after recommendations from his wife Hazel and the Perinatal Infant Mental Health Service (PIMHS).

He took part in a range of workshops learning all about parenting, health and nutrition, smoking, gambling, paediatric first aid, psychology sessions, as well as coping strategies for stress and anxiety.

It also provided him with a supportive space to connect and learn from other dads through group discussions and a ‘walk and talk’ in the park at the start of each session.

By signing up, dads also gain a free one-month gym membership through Torfaen Leisure Trust, with a reduced rate for the following five months, as well as opportunities to attend Newport County FC and Newport Gwent Dragon match days.

Michael said: “It seemed like a good thing to meet other dads, and the topics resonated with me. It has made me a lot more mindful in how I parent, in my actions and my approach. I’ve even gone back to the gym, which has boosted my energy and mood.

“Give it a go; there’s nothing to lose. It’s a free couple of hours of your time, and you’ll gain so much from it. Just sign up and see for yourself.”

Michael, who owns Mighty Duck Marketing and ManOfTheMatchFootball – a football gifts and prints business, added: “I’ve made some great friends, who I can talk to regularly and share experiences with. We still meet up regularly, sometimes with our families, sometimes just for a pint.

“It’s good to have people who understand what you’re going through, and who can offer advice or a listening ear.”

Once completed, dads also get the chance to sign up for a Circle of Security Parenting course, a parenting course which looks at how to foster a secure parent-child relationship.

Councillor Richard Clark, executive member for children, families and education, said: “Michael’s story is a testament to the transformative power of the For Dads, By Dads programme in fostering a supportive community for fathers, enhancing their parenting skills, and personal growth.

“His journey from a busy entrepreneur to a more mindful father underscores the importance of such initiatives in building stronger family bonds and promoting the well-being of children and parents alike.”

Register for the dads programme

New and expectant dads interested in signing up for the ‘For Dads by Dads’ or Circle of Security Parenting programmes, can complete the online booking form here.

Or email [email protected] or [email protected]

Posted inUncategorized

Free course for new dads and dads-to-be starts in Torfaen this week