An award-winning charity which provides positive male role models for boys without dads is launching a drive to recruit more mentors and supporters in Colchester and Tendring.

Lads Need Dads, which earlier this year was honoured with the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service, the highest award a voluntary group can receive in the UK, is looking to recruit father figures across north Essex to help change the lives of youngsters.

As well as its new Men(tor) recruitment drive, the Clacton-based charity is also on the lookout for reading mentor’s to help children with their literacy skills at schools.

Colchester residents can also help out the charity by offering up some DIY projects which the charity’s engage programme can complete in the area.

Rodney Appleyard is a member of the charity’s board and has seen first hand the life-changing work it does.

He said: “When I first joined Lads Need Dads in 2016, I remember meeting a group of boys for the first time who lacked a lot of self-confidence and found it hard to look me in the eye.

“They seemed unsure of themselves and walked around with their heads held down, as if they were invisible. However, I noticed a huge transformation in them a few months later at the annual graduation.

“They all wore smart suits at the event and had grown enormously in confidence, stature and pride.

“They looked like a boy band, all smartly dressed and full of life, as they danced together in the corner of the room to celebrate graduating from the programme.

“This was enough for me to see Lads Need Dads really does positively change the lives of these boys and has made me want to help the project grow ever since.”

Board member Chris Morgan, a director of Metro Bank in Colchester, is helping lead the push to recruit more support in Colchester.

He became involved with the charity as the charity was a customer of the bank, but having grown up without a father in his life himself, he quickly recognised its worth.

Mr Morgan said: “ I first worked for Lads Need Dads as an Inspire speaker to a group of lads, telling them about my life experience and growing up without a dad and how this affected me.

“I then trained to become a volunteer mentor for the charity to work with them more regularly in my own time.

“I can see and be actually involved in them making a tangible difference. I would have loved to have access to something like this when I was younger.”

Law firm Fisher Jones Greenwood has already signed up to the cause, donating £500 and pledging to get its staff involved in the charity’s mentorship projects.

Mr Morgan said: “Having just won the queens voluntary service award this is proof that what we do is valued and makes a difference.We have quite a big nationwide following on Twitter but not that great of a following or a presence in and around Colchester and I would like to engage more volunteers, mentors, supporters and donors as part of my role.

“It has been great to see a big firm like Fisher Jones Greenwood step up to make a donation and we have also talked about how some of their staff can become involved too.

“We now need more firms to follow suit, there must be many leaders of businesses which grew up without fathers and can relate to what we are trying to do.

“We aim to work with boys before they start to encounter issues and to support them through the navigation of adolescent life and to provide them with the emotional guidance and mental support they may not have access to at home.”

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