I honestly believe that if it wasn’t for Storybook Dads, my little girl and I wouldn’t have the strong bond that we have now.
What is Storybook Dads?
A beautifully executed service for prisoners and their children at home, Storybook Dads allows parents in prison to record bedtime stories on CDs and DVDs, so their children can listen to them or watch them whenever they like. A wonderful way to keep in touch, both parents and children benefit from Storybook Dads, helping to strengthen their relationship during times apart.
A Little Bit of History
Founded in 2003 by Sharon Berry, a volunteer at HMP Channings Wood, Storybook Dads was the result of a collaboration between Sharon and the Writer in Residence at the prison. Transferring herself to HMP Dartmoor, Sharon introduced the scheme, initially recording prisoners on the wing reading story books, and editing the stories at home. Sharon was given access to an empty classroom to work from, and she soon began training other prisons to set up their own editing suite and replicate the project. By 2009, the power of Storybook Dads was recognised by the prison, and Sharon and her team of volunteers were given brand new on-site offices.
From the very beginning, the aim of the scheme was to enhance meaningful relationships between parents and their children, as well as giving prisoners the chance to develop new technical and literacy skills whilst working in a professional environment, and to this day, the scheme is still fulfilling those ambitions.
I was able to find a creative side that I didn’t know I had.
Storybook Dads Today
Although Storybook Dads has faced some challenges over the years, mainly due to prison security making the practicalities of running the project quite difficult, it now has a dedicated team of supporters and staff, including Patron, Terry Waite, and a Board of Trustees, ensuring prisoners across the country can benefit from the scheme. Former prisoners may also have to opportunity to be employed by Storybook Dads on a part-time basis.
Receiving donations from a small group of loyal supporters, as well as prisoners and their families, Storybook Dads relies heavily on funding from those who really believe in the scheme. And with a large social following across Twitter and Facebook, Storybook Dads is making an impact on families all over the UK. The scheme has more recently introduced Storybook Mums to 9 women’s prisons, and also trained Army Forces to participate so that deployed service personnel can read bedtime stories to their children.
And Sharon’s hard work hasn’t gone unnoticed; she’s been rewarded with:
• Home Office Justice Award (2005)
• Butler Trust Award (2005)
• Public Servant of the Year Award (2006)
• OBE for her work with children and families (2010)
Overall, the charity has collected 15 awards since it was founded, which highlights the amazing job that Sharon and her team are doing for prisoners and their families. With over 200,000 children affected by parental imprisonment every year, Storybook Dads is vital in ensuring relationships are strengthened and contact between relatives remains consistent. And with the help of Easyfundraising, they are looking to raise £1000 this year to reach their goals.
My little girl couldn’t sleep at night after her Daddy went away. Now she listens to the CD he made for her every night. It helps her so much.
You can make a difference to the lives of children who are missing their parents by choosing to support the charity using easyfundraising, raising donations when you shop online.