How the Emergency Community Support Fund is helping fathers build their relationship skills

By Vanessa Racine, social medias coordinator

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RePère is a non-profit community organization whose mission is to foster the development of paternal skills by giving fathers the tools to build and maintain strong relationships with their children. Its main goals are to offer support to struggling fathers and help men define their role as a father. The organization has been active in the Montreal area for 25 years.
When COVID‑19 hit in March, for safety reasons and in accordance with public health and Quebec government directives, the RePère offices unfortunately had to close until further notice. However, the organization still continued to provide legal clinic and psychosocial counselling services, adapting to the new reality by offering online workshops and counselling.
“We’re offering the same services, but adapted to COVID, meaning that we’re taking a more technology-based approach," said Mohammed Barhone, general manager. "We’ve expanded our prevention services by opting for email or phone meetings.”
RePère believes that fathers must be present from early childhood for a quality relationship to be built and maintained throughout all stages of the child's development. With the financial support of the Red Cross, the centre was able to develop its project for summer 2020, which aims to build the paternal skills of 350 fathers in Quebec by offering them the tools and services to create, strengthen and maintain healthy relationships with their children.
“We can no longer operate the way we used to. We had to hire an extra person so that we could extend our business hours, including on weekends. Before, we were closed on Saturday and Sunday. We’ve also had to invest in new technology tools, such as Zoom for online meetings and webcams so that our staff can work effectively.”
The financial assistance from the Red Cross has helped mitigate the impacts of COVID-19, since the pandemic has left many fathers isolated, unemployed, stressed, and away from their children. This assistance is also being used to support newcomers and racialized individuals by giving them access to social inclusion and training services.
“We know that the next step will be very challenging. Gettin back to normal life is taking longer than expected. Our priority is psychosocial counselling, but other needs are becoming increasingly prevalent, such as emergency shelter or food. We also hope to be able to have in‑person meetings in September, if restrictions are eased.”
To learn more about the organization, visit its website.
This program was supported thanks to the generous support of the Government of Canada's Emergency Community Support Fund.
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