Story book dads

A pioneering scheme is enabling inmates at a Devon prison to tell their children bedtime stories.

The Dartmoor prison scheme, called Storybook Dads, builds on the long-established format of prisoners recording stories onto tape.

Inmates are able to digitally edit their stories, removing any mistakes and adding music and effects.

The stories are recorded with a personal message onto CD and then posted to the prisoners' families.

  • Each year about 160,000 children in the UK suffer the trauma of the imprisonment of a parent. 
  • Many of these children suffer feelings of abandonment, shame and isolation, often leading to poor performance at school and truancy. This can result in anti-social or delinquent behaviour - and the cycle of offending is perpetuated. Prisoners' children are three times more prone to significant mental health problems than their peers.
  • Half of all imprisoned parents lose contact with their families - those that maintain contact are six times less likely to re offend upon release

LISTEN HERE: To the finished article, Jack & the Beanstalk

Sharon Berry, a further education teacher who runs the scheme, said: "At the end of the day these men can do very little for their children when they are in here. This is something tangible they can give to them to prove they care.

"Storytelling is such a natural parental thing. They are almost taking on a natural parental activity."

Mark tells Heart about the scheme

Storybook Dads is funded by charity and has proved so successful that Dartmoor is now providing editing for 17 other prisons, with more than 500 prisoners signed up to the scheme.