Families Need Fathers (FNF) was founded as a UK-wide organisation in 1974. An article by Keith Parkin was published in the Guardian to announce that a new society had been formed.
… It will campaign for equal parental rights in cases of custody, care and control, and for realistic positive access for the unsuccessful parent.
As well as providing information and campaigning for change, the organisation held local meetings at which fathers and other people affected by the loss of contact with children after separation could share experiences. Such meetings have been held in Edinburgh and Glasgow during most of the time since the formation of FNF. Scotland has always had its own courts and laws, and Scottish FNF members lobbied for changes in the early 1990s when the Children (Scotland) Act 1995 was debated, and again ten years later when the Family Law (Scotland) Act finally gave parental rights and responsibilities to unmarried fathers whose names were on the child’s birth certificate, providing the child was born after the 3rd of May 2005.
In 2009 FNF UK obtained funding from the National Lottery to investigate whether an office could be opened in Scotland. John Forsyth carried out this initial scoping work, and Emlyn Hughes from the Liverpool office worked with Scottish members to re-invigorate the local group meetings. This pilot work led to a larger grant from the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) to pay for two staff and a national office. Ian Maxwell was appointed as the national development manager and John Forsyth the communications and policy manager in June 2010 and an office was opened in Edinburgh.
This led to the formation of an independent Scottish charity Families Need Fathers Scotland in 2011. This charity retained membership links with FNF UK, but was funded separately after the EHRC grant finished in 2012. Trustees were recruited from amongst the membership and monthly local group meetings were started in Aberdeen and Stirling alongside the existing Edinburgh and Glasgow meetings, and an increasing number of phone and email enquiries were handled by the staff.
The Scottish charity established working links with the Scottish Government and a wide range of charities and other organisations working with parents, families and children. Speaker meetings were organised to build up awareness amongst professionals and parents. Amongst the early speakers were Dr Kirk Weir, who described his study Conflict Contact Disputes: Evidence of the Extreme Unreliability of Some Children’s Ascertainable Wishes and Feelings at a meeting organised jointly with Relationships Scotland. Karen Woodall spoke about her work on Parental Alienation at two meetings we organised in 2012.
Funding has been obtained from a wide variety of sources to support our work in Scotland. The Scottish Government has supported us since 2012 through a variety of funding streams, including the Equalities Fund, Volunteering Support and the Children and Young Peoples Early Intervention Fund. We are also very grateful to the Big Lottery for their support towards parenting training and work with minority ethnic parents, the Tudor Trust who have supported our Partnership Development and Outreach post since 2015, the Robertson Trust who have supported our moves into stress management and communication skills training, and a wide range of other trusts. Members of the organisation have also raised funds for us over the years, ranging from ventures such as canoe trips and birthday celebrations to the more recent Kiltwalks in Edinburgh, Glasgow, Dundee and Aberdeen.
When Alastair Williamson was appointed to the new partnership development and outreach post in 2015 we opened a Glasgow office, initially in the Robertson Trust building in Bath Street and now in our own space in Cadogan Square. The Edinburgh office started off within the First Hand premises in Broughton Place, and them moved westward to Palmerston Place where we occupy an office and also use the meeting space within the building owned by Palmerston Place Church.
In 2018 and 2019 the trustees of the charity decided to make various changes including cutting the membership link to FNF UK and changing the name of the charity to Shared Parenting Scotland. This emphasises the main aim of the organisation to promote shared parenting and also reflects the fact that we work with all family members, not just fathers. We retain close links with FNF UK in London and also with our Welsh counterpart FNF Both Parents Matter Cymru and continue to collaborate on UK-wide issues such as child support.