Dads charity goes behind bars after lotto win

Charity founders Thomas Lynch and David Marshall celebrate their lottery funding boost. Picture: Toby Williams

Charity founders Thomas Lynch and David Marshall celebrate their lottery funding boost. Picture: Toby Williams

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A PIONEERING charity set up by two Edinburgh dads is set to take its work into prisons thanks to a £287,000 lottery funding boost.

New fathers Thomas Lynch and David Marshall set up Dads Rock in 2012 after growing frustrated by the lack of services available to them.

The organisation, which runs free playgroups in Wester Hailes and Granton, will use the cash to hire two full-time staff members to run new weekday playgroups in Edinburgh and start play sessions in prison as well as counselling and outings for more fathers.

Dads Rock now runs a group in Glasgow and they have their eyes on other cities in Scotland, Mr Lynch added.

Mr Lynch, from Drumbrae, said: “David and I were just talking about the lack of services for dads one day and we decided to do something about it. We decided to set up a playgroup in Wester Hailes and it has really just boomed from there. It’s amazing because we are quite a new organisation so it is incredible to get a big boost from the lottery.”

The 40-year-old confirmed the group was in talks with the Scottish Prison Service about taking their successful play 
sessions behind bars. Mr Lynch has previously said he hoped he would be allowed to take his six-year-old son Lewis into prisons to help inmates learn by mirroring their interactions.

He said: “One of the figures I have heard is that 50 per cent of fathers who go into prison lose contact with their families.

“It’s understandable as it’s a difficult situation but it’s something we want to help with.”

The idea has been welcomed by the Scottish Prison Service, which provides homework clubs and other activities to help inmates maintain meaningful relationships with their families.

Saughton Prison has also used a scheme where children of prisoners can speak to other youngsters beforehand to prepare for visits.

A Scottish Prisons Service spokesperson said: “Positive parenting is something we are very keen to promote among prisoners.

“We recognise the important roles that fathers have in their children’s lives and we want to absolutely support that through initiatives like this.”

Along with co-founder David Marshall, 35, from Parkhead, Mr Lynch has launched a new “Dads Rock Academy” this week where children can receive free music tuition at Edinburgh College’s Sighthill Campus.

Maureen McGinn, Big Lottery Fund Scotland Chair, said: “As a charity set up and run by dads, Dads Rock knows exactly what support fathers need to be able to enjoy rewarding relationships with their children.

“This funding will reach out to those men who might not otherwise have the confidence to attend a playgroup session or speak openly about their concerns as a parent.

“I’m delighted that this investment will enable their work to expand.”