Children’s Centre volunteer, Ballymena

steve- ballymena CC

I’ve been volunteering for just over four years in Ballymena Children’s Centre. I first came to the children's centre after hearing about a dads group that they run, through my partner. I attended a Family Men group which is for Dads and male carers to provide support to men in their parenting role. Each week they ran through what activities were planned. One week we got taught about volunteering and I signed up straight away. I’m now volunteering at groups and I’ve also helped out at cricket events, Father’s Day and have played Santa for the past two years.

I give as much time as I possibly can due to work commitments, all they have to do is ring and I’m there. The highlight is seeing young children from first coming in, to going through early years programme to moving on. Seeing them grow from tiny wee people into big boisterous people. Recently I spoke at a conference with professionals from across Northern Ireland about men in Early Years. I also spoke at Christmas to groups from different Sure Start areas about getting dads involved in the children's centres. I went on the radio a while ago, it was last minute and I didn’t know what I was going to be asked. They asked why men don’t like going to children's centres. I told them they weren’t always made friendly, sometimes there are no toilets for men – they’re either for women or disabled. Action for Children heard this and listened to what was said and made changes

In 2019 Steve was nominated for our Outstanding Volunteer Award due to his enthusiasm and the impact he has had on engaging fathers in the local area. As a result he enjoyed a complimentary weekend away in Dublin with his little son.