Who Let the Dads Out? has become part of Care for the Family as both ministries bolster efforts to support families around the UK. Tony Sharp, Who Let the Dads Out? project coordinator at Care for the Family, reveals the thinking behind the merger and what it means for the future of family-focused ministry in the UK.

Why has Who Let the Dads Out? become part of Care for the Family? And what are the advantages of this handover?

This is such a good question, especially as Who Let the Dads Out? has definitely blossomed as a result of being part of the Bible Reading Fellowship (BRF) since 2012, growing in terms of impact (up from around 50 to almost 280 registrations in those six years) and in terms of recognition and respect as a leading voice on ministry to fathers. We have been so blessed by BRF and are so grateful for the time we’ve had together.

So why change? There is a strong synergy between Care for the Family’s core purposes (to strengthen family life and to help those who face family difficulties) and Who Let the Dads Out?‘s vision to support men in their role as fathers and father figures to their children so as to strengthen relationships, families and communities. The Who Let the Dads Out? team, BRF more widely, and Care for the Family all felt that maximising this synergy was the right next step in the development of this project, so one great advantage of this handover is the goodwill with which we leave BRF and join Care for the Family.


In practical terms, what will the new structure look like? Will Who Let the Dads Out? operate as it has done in the past?

Yes, certainly in the short term, Who Let The Dads Out? will look and feel very similar. Most of the core elements that we offer to inspire and resource churches to support fathers, father figures and their children will remain. The current thinking is that our website will be incorporated into the Care for the Family website, and the facility to register a group with us and to have it listed on the directory will remain. We hear many stories of how the directory helps new families to find a group close to them that dads and father figures can connect into, and also of it helping families to settle into a new area after a move. We will continue to share ideas, resources, stories and best practice that we produce ourselves and/​or gather from our groups and partner organisations. Our volunteer reps around the UK remain fully committed to the Who Let the Dads Out? project and will continue to support groups local to them and help us respond to interest from churches. And the project continues to be led by Mark Chester, the founder of Who Let the Dads Out?, and Tony Sharp, the project’s national coordinator, with both working on a part-time basis as they did with BRF.

The handover is said to have taken place to enable Who Let the Dads Out? to flourish more. How will Care for the Family strengthen the initiative?

We certainly hope, pray and expect Who Let the Dads Out? to flourish. And just to wrap up on the previous question, as we integrate into our new home and review our strategic objectives, then undoubtedly, some operational changes will come in order for us to make the most of Care for the Family’s particular strengths. One key benefit will be to help ensure that the project is sustainable in the longer term, because we are convinced that our work to reach out and support fathers is not over yet! 

"We will continue to share ideas, resources, stories and best practice that we produce ourselves and/or gather from our groups and partner organisations."

We also anticipate that we will be able to build on the good will and respect earned over the previous years, whilst further expanding our reach, so that our message and our own programme of training and events can reach even more people. For example, as regular speakers at Playtime Conferences, we are confident that we can both support and benefit from a closer involvement with this aspect of Care for the Family’s work. When we became part of BRF we had a picture of being a pot-bound tree that was being planted out into an orchard. We’ve flourished, but now as we are re-planted again, we expect another season of fruitfulness.

What are some of the issues families around the UK face and how can this union help to support families better?

In many respects, this is a great time to be a father. Our society currently loves the idea of men fully engaged in co-parenting their children from the moment they are born – just look at the backlash Piers Morgan received recently when he attempted to shame Daniel Craig for carrying his baby in a papoose! We believe that nearly all men go into parenthood with every intention of building a strong and lasting family, but as family breakdown data shows, some of us need support if we are to fulfil that intention. 

However, a recent study undertaken by Manchester University, and reported in the Guardian on 30 September, found a direct correlation between involved fatherhood and long-term relationship stability, noting that fathers who took sole charge of babies for periods before they turned one were as much as 40 per cent less likely to subsequently break up with their partners. Such findings reaffirm the intrinsic value of Who Let the Dads Out? groups and can contribute to the very practical advice that Care for the Family’s parenting and marriage support resources (such as Let’s Stick Together) already provide. 

Who Let the Dads Out? groups are also a great support to single-parent fathers. So we’re looking forward to working with Care for the Family’s single parent support team that runs the Take a Break family adventure holidays. As well as writing the Daddy Cool! parenting programme, Mark Chester has already been instrumental in helping Care for the Family develop parenting programmes and resources specifically focused on fathers – such as elements of both Time Out for Parents and Parentalk. A small number of our groups already run parenting sessions specifically aimed at dads, and we can envisage this number growing as we are able to showcase these resources more widely. 

Supporting families in the digital age, showcasing groups that are targeted at supporting families with special needs, providing tips on passing on our values and beliefs to our children: the needs and hence opportunities are too numerous for us to have fully processed our thinking yet, so perhaps ask us this question again in a few months’ time.

How can churches find out more about Care for the Family and make the most of the resources that the national charity has developed?

The resources section of Care for the Family’s website outlines specifically how Care for the Family can resource churches to support families in local churches or the wider community. It provides a good introduction from a church perspective, and from here it’s possible to navigate to specific resources on the website. To explore further how churches can support and minister to fathers and father figures in particular, we’d recommend Who Let the Dads Out?‘s website.

Tony Sharp is Who Let the Dads Out? project coordinator at Care for the Family

Photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash.