It’s a reversal of the traditional roles but whilst most dads are out at work, I’ve found a really rewarding part to play in family life.

Dad of five and granddad of five, Paddi O’Brien, 54, used to describe himself as a ‘burley builder’ who owned his own construction business until a heart condition stopped him working. Twelve years on, his life is unrecognisable His days are now split between his own family and a volunteering for Home-Start.

Male volunteers are a bit of a rare breed when it comes to family focused charities. People tend to do a bit of a double take when they hear I’m supporting a family but men actually have a lot to offer, particularly acting as a positive male role model.

Since starting volunteering, Paddi has supported three different families. He says that it’s as much about the children as it is the parent. Paddi explains: “Home-Start is very well structured, they employ professional staff who in turn give us volunteers fantastic support.”

“I might give support to a dad who feels like he doesn’t know what he should be doing or I might be supporting the mum and helping look after the kids whilst she takes some time out. Sometimes it’s a combination of many things.

“The most important role I play in a family’s life though is being someone they can depend on.”

Paddi concludes: “This isn’t what I thought I’d being doing with my life, I pictured myself building up my business for some time yet, but I’ve really enjoyed being a houseparent and volunteering for Home-Start is very rewarding. It’s a reversal of the traditional roles but whilst most dads are out at work, I’ve found a really rewarding part to play in family life.”

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