Arif's story- From service user to volunteer


I am 50 and I have a three year old. Until I became a father parenthood meant nothing to me and I'd been focused on developing my career.

The arrival of my new baby enlightened me to join 'Dad’s life', which is a three evenings course. I thought some of the dads might be shocked at my age, but when I got there I found it wasn't a problem and there were dads there of all ages - from teenager up.

Before the first session we were all asked to bring the challenge: what is the  challenge facing you today? I'd been having a difficult time with my three year old who, after brushing her teeth, would throw her toothbrush on the bathroom floor. I didn't know how to correct it, so took it in as my challenge.  
When I went there, I was very embarrassed because there were people there with much more serious problems than mine - I heard stories of deprivation and teenagers who would stay up at night. They were in despair and I could see their tears. It made me aware of some of the serious issues that parents face, and that I had no insight into this world. I stuck with the course though, and eventuallty it did help me to solve my problem!

I then started promoting Family Lives to my friends and family, and I realised that many people from my community had very little knowledge about the organisation or family support it offers. This inspired me to help out, so I joined the London and South East region office as a volunteer. During my training, a paid role came in and I applied successfully. I'm now one of the project coordinators.

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