Year of the Dad – creating positive cultural change through co-production


Co production blog Douglas Guest Head of Programmes at Fathers Network Scotland


I like this quote from the co-production website. It says:

‘Co-production is about combining our mutual strengths and capacities so that we can work with one another on an equal basis to achieve positive change’ Scottish Community Development Centre

Why? Because it spells out what we are trying to achieve with Year of the Dad.

What is it?

2016 is Scotland’s Year of the Dad... a celebration of fatherhood and the importance of fathers in child development and parenting

Research overwhelmingly shows how children and women benefit from the positive involvement of fathers, and yet child and family services often overlook fathers – whilst many employers still see part-time and flexible working as something for women in their role as carers or ‘working mothers’.

That’s why I like the words ‘on an equal basis’ from the quote above. We believe that we are doing gender equality from the other end. If dads work flexibly, maybe part-time working will be valued more.

Presenteeism, the rewarding or the expectation of long hours to get ahead in the job market rather than what and how you do your job, might be deprioritised. If dads do more nurturing and caring gender segregation will be challenged in the early years and we will encourage more men to become the positive male role models our nurseries and primary schools need. Supporting dads supports mums to have more career choices and evidence suggests will help to close the gender pay gap if dads share equally the domestic contract.

So Year of the Dad is a rallying call to both services and employers to step up their engagement of fathers and embrace the importance of family-friendly, inclusive practice across Scotland. 

Ultimately we want individuals and organisations to:

  • Understand the full potential of fathers in society and the benefits and myths across Scottish society.

  • Adopt and share better practice in order to harness the potential of fathers roles

  • Embrace and implement changes at an individual, community, and organisational level to create a Scotland which is the best place for children to grow up in.

    For more information – ask for our Fact sheet


Creating positive cultural change doesn’t happen over night and it can’t be the sole responsibility of one organisation. Year of the Dad needs people to believe in it, to take it up and to develop it. That’s why collaboration and co-production are at the heart of this campaign.

How will we do this?

We’d like you to get involved in any way you can.

To promote Year of the Dad we are running regional roadshows and have monies to help meet the costs of community activity. We are producing resources for champions, and actively seeking a wide range of collaboration opportunities and partnerships. We are eager to meet and present - equally to enable others to do this.

We are also developing a Dads Charter (a series of commitments we’d like as many service providers & employers across Scotland to sign up to) and want this to be co-produced by as many as possible, so the impact can be deep and wide.

The first opportunity is a Charter co-production workshop on 25th August in Edinburgh, then a stakeholder workshop in September where we will share and develop our plans so far. We are very open to more workshops or individual meetings.

We want your help to build a movement that includes all and allows conversations to be far ranging. We understand we need bottom up support and activity and equally top down policy support and changes. The aim is to make Scotland the best place in the world to grow up and the best place to be a parent.

Year of the Dad will go beyond service provider and service user to cover policy, employment practice and what individuals can do and lever – to use Margaret Mead’s inspiring words that often enable all in community development and culture change to make real impact:

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it's the only thing that ever has”.

This has been at the heart of the development of Fathers Network Scotland from a small band of committed volunteers. Board members with ideas and passion, but no resources, to a leading national organisation with the support of Scottish Government developing and co-producing a national campaign to improve the wellbeing of dads, mums, and children - thus families across Scotland.

This needs to be done with all in Scottish society not to. Co-created is co-owned and the heart of co-production in my eyes.

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