Pakistan-born male worker at Sheffield Children’s Centre

11 June 2006

‘To me the job is second nature’

Tariq Mahmood, 35, is a Pakistan-born manager at the Sheffield Children’s Centre, which looks after around 130 children. Before joining in 1991, he worked in a UK-based refugee centre, where he looked after Pakistani child abuse victims. He has achieved qualifications in primary education, food and hygiene, and life saving as well as NVQ Levels 3 and 4.

"I have worked with children for 14 years and although other people sometimes think it a strange job for a man, to me it’s second nature. In Pakistan, I looked after my niece and nephew while my sister was at work and I enjoyed it. There was no organised childcare in the country and it was common for other family members to help out.

I was scared of the women at the Sheffield Centre at first, but they were very supportive. Nowadays, we have a 50:50 ratio of men to women so I don’t feel so uncomfortable. At the beginning, there were problems with some parents, particularly the Muslim ones, who objected to men changing their daughters’ nappies and even picking them up when they fell over. These same parents are my friends now.

Nappy-changing and potty-training are part and parcel of the job – not nasty, just something that you would do for any child. I see my work here as a great training ground for when I become a father.

Some of my male colleagues have left to set up their own nurseries, but I’m not sure I would want that responsibility. If I hadn’t gone into childcare, I’d have chosen economics. Better pay perhaps, but not nearly as rewarding. My colleagues and the children here are like my family and I feel very settled and happy. "

Programme Name: Sheffield Children’s Centre
Local Authority: Sheffield
Region: Yorkshire and the Humber
Setting: Early Excellence Centre
Contact: Chrissy Meleady, Head of Centre
Address: Shoreham Street, Sheffield, S1 4SR
Telephone: 0114 2798236
Fax: 0114 2768891
Email: eram@sheffkids.ssnet.co.uk

This article is an extract from: Why childcare is no longer a female-only domain by Virginia Matthews published in the Independent on 08 June 2006

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