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Supporting dads of children with additional needs

Many of us have something that we started during lockdown four years ago… mine was to start ‘The Dads’ Fire Circle’, a place for Dads (or Dad figures) of children of any age who have additional needs, to gather.

THE ADDITIONAL NEEDS BLOGFATHER AUTOR 242/Mark_Arnold 21 DE JUNIO DE 2024 10:25 h
A fire circle at a festival where a Dads gathering was organised.

Many of us have something that we started during lockdown four years ago… mine was to start ‘The Dads’ Fire Circle’, a place for Dads (or Dad figures) of children of any age who have additional needs, to gather. Some Dads have small children, some have children in their 30’s, but all are on a similar journey.



Over the last four years, we’ve met online every month; sometimes just a handful of us, sometimes a few more, to chat, share, mutually support, and journey with, other Dads on a similar journey to our own. The Dads that come along are from all over the UK and even further afield in some cases, but each one finds a place where they are understood, seen, listened to, and are no longer alone.



“Knowing that there is the support of other guys, people who have been through similar things, who can share their experiences, and who are able to listen and to encourage you and be with you, that’s really helpful”, says Tim, a member of ‘The Dads’ Fire Circle’



We’ve occasionally been able to run a session at festival events such as New Wine ‘United’, where we’ve gathered guys around a physical fire to share stories, food, and support. We plan to be there again in July 2024.





[photo_footer] Mark at his desk running an online session of ‘The Dads’ Fire Circle’ [/photo_footer] 


‘The Dads’ Fire Circle’ featured on the Fathers’ Day episode of BBC Songs of Praise on 16th June 2024, a great recognition of the helpful support that this group is providing for Dad’s and Dad figures across the country. You can watch the episode here, with the section featuring ‘The Dads’ Fire Circle’ starting at about 12:25 minutes in.



While a typical session is led by whatever the Dads present want to talk about, we usually make sure to chat about current issues relevant to the moment e.g. summer holidays, back to school, Christmas, etc.



It’s a space where Dad’s can share and contribute as much or as little as they feel comfortable with, going at their own pace. While the group includes many who have a faith, this isn’t overtly communicated during the meetings, although we hope it comes across in the way that we care for and support each other.



If you, or someone you know, would like to come along to an online session, you can find out more about upcoming sessions here where you can also see blog posts, links to helpful websites, and more.



I hope you will come and join us ‘around the fire’ as we gather to make a difference for Dads and Dad figures wherever they are, helping everyone to not feel so isolated and alone, but to have found their ‘tribe’.



Mark Arnold, Director of Additional Needs Ministry at Urban Saints. Arnold blogs at The Additional Needs Blogfather. This article was re-published with permission.



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[title]One more year[/title]

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