Worthing loneliness charity eyeing expansion after National Lottery funding boost

A Worthing charity set up to combat loneliness among dads is branching out after receiving £10,000 National Lottery funding.

Friday, 18th June 2021, 9:07 am

Dad La Soul was set up six years ago by Dan Flanagan, as his 20-year marketing career saw him spending less and less time with his son.

The death of his father saw Dan bury his head even further into a job he hated and, following bouts of extreme stress and exhaustion, he knew he needed to take action.

“I knew something needed to change,” Dan said.

Dan Flanagan (front and centre) at a Dad La Soul event SUS-210618-084941001

“As a middle-aged man, it’s pretty embarrassing to say, ‘Hey, I’m a “Billy-no-mates’, and I would like some proper friends to chat to about more than which team won the league. Many men like me – isolated, stressed out and suffering from Imposter Syndrome – can often feel like they are failing as a dad.

“In my experience, health professionals can tend to focus on the mums, which is why I wanted to create a space for dads to come together, share their stories and spend quality time with their children.

“Thanks to National Lottery players we can now provide dads with an even more fulfilling way to spend time with their children and break the cycle of loneliness.”

Dad La Soul helps Sussex dads reconnect with their children and provides a space to speak to other dads who have found themselves in similar situations.

Music plays a big part, with events including everything from DJ workshops to rap battles.

Research by the charity shows that 73 per cent of the dads it works with feel socially isolated or lonely, 62 per cent lacked companionship and over 76 per cent said they felt left out of family life.

Dan’s lottery award of £10,000 will go towards new play equipment, more events and training of volunteers.

He is also looking to expand outside of West Sussex after running successful gatherings in Hurstpierpoint, Chichester, Storrington and Brighton.

Helen Bushell, head of funding for the South East at The National Lottery Community Fund, said: “As we continue to feel the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, tackling the stigma around loneliness and making it okay to ask for help remains more important than ever.

“Loneliness affects people of all ages and from all walks of life, and we know that because of lockdown many people are experiencing isolation for the very first time.

“That’s why it’s so important that local groups continue to receive the funding they need to support people to connect, reduce feelings of isolation and help their local communities come together.

“We’re delighted to provide this lifeline on behalf of National Lottery players and also in conjunction with Government – this support will help many more people to thrive.”

To further combat loneliness, The National Lottery Community Fund has also joined the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport on the Local Connections Fund – a £4million programme designed to build connections within communities. Earlier this year, more than 850 community groups benefitted from the first round of Local Connections Fund grants, with the second round opening to applications this Monday.