Third Sector Excellence Awards: Small Charity, Big Achiever

Storybook Dads helps prisoners record CDs of themselves reading bedtime stories for their children, and has won praise from the Prime Minister.

Storybook Dads
Storybook Dads

Criteria:
For the small organisation that has made a big impact with an innovative project or projects. Organisations with incomes of up to £1m are eligible to enter

Judging panel:
Stephen Cook, editor, Third Sector
David Ainsworth, Hannah Jordan, Paul Jump and Rosie Walker, reporters
Mathew Little, freelance contributor

Finalists:
Community Money Advice
The Ear Foundation
FairPensions
Storybook Dads
Streetwise Opera
Theodora Children's Trust

Winner: Storybook Dads
Every year, about 150,000 children are affected by the imprisonment of a parent. It can be a traumatic experience for many of these children, often to the detriment of their behaviour, mental health or education. On top of this, many parents are jailed far from home, making it hard for them to keep in contact with their families.
Storybook Dads was formed in 2003 to help these parents maintain family ties. Despite its limited income - £120,000 in the year to June 2008 - the charity has come a long way since it began work in Dartmoor Prison, the imposing Victorian jail on the bleak hills of the Devonian moors.
The charity now helps prisoners in 55 jails across England and Wales to record CDs of themselves reading bedtime stories, and has trained staff in seven prisons to set up audio-
editing suites. The charity produced more than 4,000 CDs in the year to June 2008, which were sent to an estimated 12,000 children.
The production of the recordings also gives prisoners the opportunity to learn audio-editing skills and improve their self-esteem.
The name of the charity suggests it works only with male prisoners, but it has also started working with female inmates. In summer 2007, Storybook Dads also began a DVD project for prisoners: they are filmed reading stories so their children can see and hear them.
The charity has also started to reach beyond work with prisoners. It is now also training armed forces personnel so that servicemen and women serving overseas can record
bedtime stories for their children. Under an agreement with the RAF Association, the charity's Dartmoor Prison team is also editing recordings of bedtime stories read by RAF
personnel in Afghanistan - a job the RAF Association will eventually take on itself.
And it's not only Third Sector that has been impressed with the achievements of Storybook Dads. Prime Minister Gordon Brown featured the charity in his book Britain's Everyday Heroes, which profiles the work of individuals whose commitment to good causes have inspired him.

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