Meet David & Emma, the superstars helping families at DIY Dads

David and Emma are the new powerhouse team leading the DIY Dads program. These two passionate staff members have already had a huge impact on the dads and kids at DIY Dads; a program which is only possible thanks to you.  

David is the newly appointed Program Leader at DIY Dads and has a background in Intensive Family Engagement Services. Emma has recently started as the Activities Officer at DIY Dads and has a Diploma in Mental Health and a Masters in Creative Arts Therapy.

We caught up with them to find out how this important program has been changing lives, and what they will bring to the DIY Dads program.

What does a typical day look like at DIY Dads?

David: The day usually starts off with a chat with the guys. Ideally, I like to spend an hour in the morning in the courtyard with the guys, having a chat, and a cup of coffee and building relationships. Recently we’ve been really busy getting one of the units ready for a new family to move into, which takes up a lot of time. We also coordinate with other services to come into the space and work with the dads. 

Emma: There’s often lots of driving for me, dropping kids off and picking them up from school. Working with the dads to learn new skills like maintenance, budgeting, cooking, wellness and a homework club for the kids. We also run activities for the kids in our activities and playroom.

 What do you hope to achieve at DIY Dads?

D: I want to help the guys to reach their full potential before they leave. It’s so important to target programs to the specific needs of the guys here. We need to be flexible around all types of support. The challenge is to make sure that this program is as holistic as possible.

How does the community’s support of DIY Dads help the dads and their kids?

E: On Monday one of the children had a birthday, and his dad had no money to buy a gift. We contacted our Fundraising team who put the call out to donors through the GIVIT online platform. We managed to get two gifts for the child, and helped his dad to wrap them – he had never really wrapped presents before. The dad was really thankful and the child was so grateful, he thanked his dad and said that was a really awesome birthday.

D: The donations to the program are just amazing. They make this program possible. Monetary and in-kind donations fill in a lot of the gaps that the dads aren’t able to fund themselves. Plus, it gives us more resources to make the place as good as it can be.

Why is the DIY Dads program so important?

D: DIY Dads identifies and addresses a gap in service in our community. The relationships between the dads and kids that develop every day justifies the funding and work that goes into this program. The dads have strong advocacy and support here so that their rights are met. A lot of the time the dads aren’t able to speak up for themselves because of anxiety and things like that. The advocacy and support stuff, including help with family law, is really big because if we weren’t here that wouldn’t happen, and then the kids miss out on having a relationship with their father.

E: I see this program as a step towards inter-generational change. It fosters a positive strong bond between fathers and their children. It sets the children up for success, with the homework club, and getting them to school with food in their bellies. It’s also about setting boundaries and parameters that they can operate in, and modelling a different way of doing things to both the dads and the kids. It’s about empowering them so that when they do leave here, they’ve got a better chance of progressing.

What are some of the positives that you have already seen in your time at DIY Dads?

E: The community here at DIY Dads is working really well. The sense of belonging in the place has increased. The guys are now invested in keeping it as a positive space, and talking about ways to make it better.

D: There are little wins all the times. One of the dads has been sticking to a budget that we’ve developed together. He’s been able to pay off some fines so he can get his licence back.

E: A lot of the clients will have a history of trauma which means they can be very reactive. It’s great to see them learning to regulate and problem solve so they are self-reliant.

Do you have any future plans for DIY Dads?

D: I’d love to take a group of the dads to be a part of a bush therapy group. There’s a great organisation called Wild Walkers who do a program called the Untracked Man. It’s a men’s group that goes out for 7-8 days in the wilderness and everyone in the group has a role to play so that the expedition goes well. People can get back to nature and be in the moment. A lot of the time the dads here are living in the past, or projecting a negative future and not being in the moment. The mindfulness that you can pick up from being in nature is quite powerful.

It’s also a great opportunity for the guys to talk about stuff if they feel comfortable, especially around purpose. They can discover what their purpose is and come back from the trip refreshed with drive and direction.

DIY Dads is wholly funded by the kindness of our community. Thank you for being a part of this crucial program, that brings fathers and their children together in a supportive and positive environment. You are providing single dads with the tools they need to succeed and the space to develop a loving relationship with their kids – thank you!

More News from Hobart City Mission...