First playgroup for fathers opens in Capital next year

David Marshall with daughter Freya and wife Claire

David Marshall with daughter Freya and wife Claire

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TRADITION dictates they are dominated by mothers swapping parenting tips as their children mix with other youngsters, but as part of a new city project in Edinburgh trends are shifting.

The Capital’s first playgroup specifically for fathers will be launched in the west of the city early next year, with organisers hoping it will make men feel more comfortable in such situations as well as helping them spend more time with their children.

Father-of-one David Marshall, from Parkhead, said: “It’s free and will take place every Saturday, and will just make it easier for dads to get together, share some interests and have a chat while the kids play away.”

Dads Rock, based in Sighthill, will open in February, and men with children up to the age of four are invited to sign up.

It has been established by Mr Marshall, who broke the mould earlier this year by telling the Evening News he had suffered from postnatal depression.

His story was repeated across the UK, and the 32-year-old supermarket delivery driver has become a face for the condition, helping other men come to terms with the illness traditionally associated with women.

Now he wants to use his experience to help other fathers across the Lothians, but stressed his playgroup was not specifically designed for those suffering postnatal depression. Mr Marshall said: “It will be for every dad in the area. We’re hoping to get tonnes of interest.”

He will launch the service, at Gate 55, the former site of Westburn Primary, along with friend Thomas Lynch.

The eventual aim is to hold a series of groups across the city, and already the organisation’s social network pages have attracted significant interest.

Mr Marshall said it was his own experience taking his daughter Freya to playgroups which have driven him to set up the facility.

He said: “It can be difficult for men going into situations like that. Going in and seeing predominantly mums, who can become a bit cliquey, you do feel the odd one out and as if they’re looking at you.

“Hopefully this is at a good time too, on a Saturday morning, and will give dads an excuse, a reason, to spend time with their child.

“It will be a good resource for single dads too. Everyone thinks when you talk about single parents you are referring to mums, but there are plenty of dads out there who could probably use some company.”

It is the kind of facility which may have helped Mr Marshall stave off some of his postnatal depression symptoms following the birth of his daughter.

He said that when he had visions of hurting her when she cried he knew he had to seek help, and that experience has driven him to try to help others.

The service will be launched on February 11. For more details, e-mail dads.rock@yahoo.co.uk