A CHARITY providing male role models for boys without dads will pick up an award from the Centre for Social Justice.

Lads Needs Dads will be presented with the think-tank’s family award.

It is given annually to an organisation with an outstanding record of helping families suffering from breakdown and the impact of dysfunctional relationships.

Sonia Shaljean, founder and managing director of Lads Need Dads, will be handed the award by Damian Hinds, Secretary of State for Education, at a ceremony in London tonight.

The Clacton charity, which will also be handed £10,000 towards its work, helps to tackle the devastating effect the absence of any positive male role has on young men.

It organises mentoring, outdoor activities, practical life-skill training and volunteering.

Andy Cook, chief executive of the Centre for Social Justice, said: “Fatherlessness is deeply concerning trend as levels of family breakdown continue to rocket, mainly among couples outside marriage.

“A boy who has no contact with his father will not only face greater challenges himself, he is more likely to become a problem for society too.

“Fatherless boys are far more likely to drop out of school, abuse alcohol and drugs, join gangs or go to prison than boys with fathers.

“The absence of a father figure is linked to aggression, anti-social behaviour and low self-esteem.

“Fathers are not just optional accessories.

“They are a vital part of a child’s life.

“By providing boys with a positive role model, Lads Needs Dads is helping to break the pernicious cycle of fatherlessness.”

The charity helped 14-year-old Simon, whose dad was in prison when he was born.

Simon struggled to make friends and had frequent anger outbursts at school, leading last year to a permanent exclusion.

Lads Need Dads worked with him on alternative education until he was transferred to a mainstream school.

Nearly a year on, Simon has not been excluded once and has now completed his Bronze Duke of Edinburgh award.