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WhatsApp Groups

First draft of Code of conduct for WhatsApp groups

Families Need Fathers Scotland (FNFS) brings together parents and other family members to discuss the issues they are facing and share experience and solutions. This networking includes our monthly group meetings in six locations, parenting and other courses that we organise, and meetings such as DNA in Glasgow which enable people to stay in touch and learn more after taking part in training. As well as meetings, we are making increasing use of WhatsApp networks to enable private messaging between people in these groups, allowing them to raise and discuss issues at any time and seek support.

These WhatsApp groups have been operating very well since Autumn 2018 - 7960 messages were exchanged in the Glasgow group over the first 4 months (an average of 66 messages/day). These messages ranged from requests for help with legal or court issues, report backs after hearings or when other changes happen, hints about good local activities for children and a lot of useful and supportive comments and suggestions.

FNFS staff are monitoring the WhatsApp conversations and will try and provide answers to unanswered questions. We are also very grateful for the people who have volunteered to oversee and administer each group to try and ensure that information provided is accurate and messages are relevant.

To assist this we are developing a new web site which will provide a source of fully checked information on legal and other issues as a point of reference. This data will try and cover all the questions raised on WhatsApp and in local group meetings and other enquiries – hopefully it will build into a very useful reference source.

FNF Scotland intends to spread the use of WhatsApp so that anyone who contacts us can have the opportunity to take part in a group. We want to try and keep the groups based on areas of Scotland so that local information is relevant and also so that groups don't get too large.

All people using the WhatsApp groups are asked to maintain confidentiality and not copy any of the messages elsewhere. FNFS will download and maintain records of conversations in each of the groups in order to add topics, questions and answers to the information store on our new website and also to monitor usage levels, but all this data will be maintained securely and no personal or identifying information will be published or made available outside the staff team. More details of the FNFS privacy policy are here: http://www.fnfscotland.org.uk/storage/FNFS%20Privacy%20policy%20May%202019.doc


The following guidelines for use of the WhatsApp groups have been developed through discussion amongst users and within the DNA group. They will remain under review and comments and suggestions are welcome – we want people using the groups to understand how they operate and what they are for. Once agreed, all users will be asked to abide by these guidelines in order to take part.



  • Messages posted on the WhatsApp groups should be supportive and respectful of all other group users.

  • Offloading frustration and expressing strong feelings are both okay, but try to keep your language moderate and your criticism constructive. Try not to swear.

  • Respect the confidentiality of anything posted on the group, and avoid mentioning names and other details in your own posts if there is any risk that these mentions could cause you difficulties. Don’t name professionals – solicitors, sheriffs, child welfare reporters etc.

  • When commenting on the actions of an ex-partner or any other person who is causing you grief, don't make the assumption that all people of that gender, race, religion etc. are similarly hostile and avoid language which is sexist, racist or any other 'ist.

  • Remember that the other people in the group want to hear about successes as well as problems.

  • It's okay to make passing comments on what's happening around you, whether it's football results, politics or the weather, but remember that the group is about being a parent so keep them short.

  • Links to other online information posted in WhatsApp messages should only be made to sites which are relevant to the work of FNFS. Links and other requests should not be posted if they relate to commercial services, unrelated campaigns or personal appeals.

If you have concerns about any message posted on a WhatsApp group email info@fnfscotland.org and a member of FNFS staff will try and resolve the matter. If an FNFS staff member or group overseer considers a message inappropriate they will contact the person who posted it and seek removal of the message if necessary.


About FNF Scotland

Families Need Fathers Scotland is a registered Scottish charity (SC042817), with three staff: Ian Maxwell (national manager), John Forsyth (communications/policy) and Alastair Williamson (outreach and partnership development).

Our purposes according to the constitution are:

1    For the relief of parents and their children and other close family members living in Scotland or having a family member in Scotland who are suffering from the consequences of divorce or separation by providing advice, assistance and other support and, in so doing, helping parents stay in touch with their children after divorce or separation;
2    To further the emotional development of children in Scotland whose parents have divorced or separated by encouraging shared parenting arrangements which enable such children to have continuing and meaningful relationships with both their parents;
3    To conduct study and research into problems concerned with children in Scotland who are deprived of the presence of a parent in their families, and into the problems concerned with establishing good relations between parents living apart from their children, and to publish the useful results of all such study and research in order to encourage appropriate changes in professional and public opinion;

Families Need Fathers Scotland respects and maintains the confidentiality of personal information from our clients and staff.  Our full Privacy Policy can be seen here.  Our policies for complaints, equality and children, young people and vulnerable adults are also available to download.

Our 2016-17 Annual Report and Accounts can be downloaded here.

Our 2017-18 Annual Report and Accounts can be downloaded here.

Our 2018-19 Annual Report and Accounts can be downloaded here


We gratefully acknowledge the financial support received from the Scottish Government, the Tudor Trust, the Robertson Trust and the Corra Foundation alongside the donations and fundraising undertaken by members and people who we have supported.

FNF Scotland is a member of Advice UK, Children in Scotland, SCVO and the Scottish Child Law Centre.

We are currently holders of the Help and Support for Separated Families (HSSF) Mark awarded by the Department of Work and Pensions.



Constitutional changes at 2018 AGM

Members attending the 2018 AGM agreed the following changes to the charity constitution.

  • The change in membership is proposed in order to create a new Scottish membership structure, reflecting the fact that Families Need Fathers Scotland is a separate charity and that membership fees should be used in Scotland.  We will continue to work alongside the FNF charities based in England and Wales and promote shared parenting and other common aims.
  • The change in the number of trustees is proposed because the charity has grown in recent years and wishes to involve more people from across Scotland in our management.

In detail, the proposed changes are:

Membership is open to any individual aged 16 or over who is a member of Families Need Fathers and who lives in Scotland or has an involvement with Scotland or a family member in Scotland.

Membership is open to any individual aged 16 or over who applies to join Families Need Fathers Scotland, is willing to agree to our purposes and principles, and who has paid the appropriate subscription.  Scottish based or involved members of Families Need Fathers UK will remain members of FNF Scotland without further payment for a transition period of 12 months from when this change is agreed.

Any person who wishes to become a member must sign a written application for membership of Families Need Fathers Scotland.  This application can be incorporated within the membership form for Families Need Fathers.

Any person who wishes to become a member must sign a written or electronic application for membership of Families Need Fathers Scotland.

No membership subscription will be payable over and above the membership subscription of Families Need Fathers unless agreed by the Families Need Fathers Scotland board.

The membership subscription for Families Need Fathers Scotland will be determined by the Trustees and will comprise a rate for waged members and a reduced rate for unwaged members. 

The maximum number of charity trustees is 6

The maximum number of charity trustees is 8

A full version of the current constitution is here