New Hove dads’ group uses rap battles to tackle social isolation

Enjoying a Dads la Soul meet up
Enjoying a Dads la Soul meet up

Rap battles, lego playing, and craft sessions will be enjoyed by more than 150 dads and their children who are taking over a workspace in Hove.

Now a social enterprise, Dad La Soul uses the arts, music, tech, and play to tackle social isolation in dads and kids, and is setting up in Hove at the award-winning Platf9rm in Church Road, Hove for Saturday morning sessions.

Activities include soft-play, crafting, filmmaking, stand-up comedy, robot-making, seaweed tasting beach raves, toy repair, and dad and kid rap battles, hosted by Brighton music charity Audio Active.

Dad La Soul was set up by Worthing father-of-one, Dan Flanagan, in 2017 to tackle social isolation experienced by fathers, and especially stay-at-home dads and give dads a space to enjoy activities with their children.

Dan said: “Turn to Facebook or Google to look for something to do with the kids, you’ll be inundated with replies for mum and toddler groups, but what happens if you are a dad?

“The usual answers are for dads to hover around parks on their own, or head to soft-play centres to be surrounded by people staring at their phones.”

Dan and his son Nat, 7

Dan and his son Nat, 7

Dad La Soul has grown considerably with over 500 dads, step dads, carers, grandfathers, guardians, and their children coming from as far as Eastbourne for the group.

Dan said: “Dad La Soul is a lot of fun but there is a serious message behind it. We bring the dads and kids together with amazing activities, to break down barriers and start conversations which dads may not have otherwise.

“Being a dad can be quite a lonely life, but men don’t like to talk about it. Once you get over those initial barriers and have conversations, you start to see a different side of blokes.

“We don’t just want to talk about beer and the footie. We want to have fun and play with our kids without judgement, but have someone understand how hard it can be to see your children, often because of the commute.

“I think it shows quite distinctly that what we are doing is so important in giving dads a safe space and the ideas of what we have created are spreading like wildfire.”

Activities on offer bring strangers together, challenge conventions, spark conversations, and start friendships in dads that perhaps can otherwise struggle in silence or isolation.

“With 84 men, aged under 45, being lost to suicide in the UK every week, the more we can do to get men talking the better”, Dan said.

Not content with organising the groups alone, Dads La Soul have produced a series of short films, a radio show, and online magazine with 18 dad writers.

Attention from the BBC, Fathers Quarterly Magazine, and a Huffington Post documentary about the group has led to inquiries from dads as far away as Canada.

The Brighton Group will start on October 19 at Platf9rm in Church Road, Hove at 11am.

For tickets and more information, visit their website here