Sonia Shaljean is the Founder of Lads Need Dads C.I.C. LADS NEED DADS provides male-led group mentoring, bush-craft survival and life-skill training to boys age 11-15 who have been identified as at risk of exclusion, offending, under achieving or dropping out of school and who crucially, have absent fathers or limited access to a supportive male role model.
Sonia set up Lads Need Dads to address the ever-growing social issue of the absent father and its impact on young males. Having worked for over twenty years in the fields of offending behaviour, alcohol and drugs, homelessness, anger management and complex families, Sonia found, not only were the majority of the service users’ she encountered, male, but many also shared a common factor; either an absent or abusive father. Sonia felt compelled to set up a project that addressed this issue in order to prevent another generation of boys growing into the clients she had worked with, and hence Lads Need Dads was birthed in 2015.
Lads Need Dads 12-month Equip and Engage Programme currently piloting in Clacton-On-Sea, Essex, aims to equip and empower boys to become motivated, responsible, capable, resilient and emotionally competent. The Shackleton grant will be used to help fund the delivery of Engage. Engage is a fortnightly, support and life-skill training group, for boys who have completed the 6-month Equip school-based programme. It provides the opportunity for boys to access on-going support and be taught vocational life-skills with the opportunity to put this training into practice by volunteering in the community alongside their peers and mentors.
Sonia is a Lloyds 2015/16 Social Entrepreneur, is married with three sons and is passionate about prevention work.