We’re delighted to announce that pioneer support group DadsWork has been saved from closure! The dramatic turn-around came after more than 500 people signed a petition, and East Lothian Council stepped in to make up the funding shortfall.
This is brilliant news for our friends in East Lothian, where DadsWork has been supporting fathers and their children for 12 years with parenting classes, counselling, home outreach and a playgroup – in some cases making a life-or-death difference for men at risk of suicide.
But it’s also great news for dads and families nationally because it means that this trail-blazing group will continue to fuel the debate on the value of fathers at a time when NHS and government policy makers are truly waking up to the need for dad-focused community support across Scotland.
How different things looked two weeks ago on the eve of Fathers’ Day, when the lifeline group seemed set to close and make its staff redundant after its existing funding ran out! An application for help from East Lothian council had already been turned down. But then people power kicked in, and supporters launched an internet petition.
As the campaign gathered pace and hundreds of children, women and men across Scotland added their names and support, project manager Kevin Young entered eleventh-hour crisis talks with the council – which then agreed to help the group stay open.
“After lengthy discussions with East Lothian Council, DadsWork has received immediate funding stemming the immediate threat of closure and staff redundancies,” announced a jubilant Mr Young after the meeting late last week. “Negotiations about the long-term future are ongoing, but I would like to take this opportunity to thank East Lothian Council , Council Leader Willie Innes and Councillor Stuart Currie, and everyone who has supported us during a very difficult three weeks.”
Musselburgh Councillor Stuart Currie, whose SNP group had lodged a motion with the council asking them to fund the group, welcomed the decision. He told the East Lothian Courier: “I had no doubt that anyone who had met with dads who use the service, as I have, would immediately want to help in any way to keep it alive.”
Council leader Willie Innes said he was “very committed” to the group, which has its head office in Musselburgh. “We will be meeting with DadsWork at the end of July to discuss a Service Level Agreement and help them to identify other sources of funding and support.”
Here at Fathers Network Scotland, we’re hugely relieved at the news, and want to thank all of you who refused to see this great service go to the wall. Congratulations Kevin and the staff on defying the odds – because apart from destroying a crucial support network, the closure of this group would have sent all the wrong signals at a time when policy makers are realising that workplace equality for women benefits from targeted parenting support for men.
DadsWork has done more than any other organisation in Scotland to model the future for dads – so here’s to the next ten years!