17 Dec 2020

Shaun Hodgkinson (right) became a Big Buddy to Seth (left) through the charity

A charity that recruits adult men to spend time with boys growing up without fathers has won the Westpac Community Contribution Award at the Auckland Business Awards. 

Big Buddy aims to encourage confidence and resilience in boys aged between seven and 14, by giving them good role models to look up to – who are first put through a discerning screening program. 

Shaun Hodgkinson became a Big Buddy because he grew up without a father and now wants to give something back to other boys growing up in similar circumstances. 

“Even though I’m a grown man, there are still times I wish my father was around to help with advice or a shoulder to lean on.  I decided to offer a little of what I missed, to a young man,” Shaun said.  

So, how do the buddies spend their time together? 

“Seth and I do everything from indoor climbing, to playing video games. Sometimes we will see a movie or kick a ball around,” Shaun said. 

“In the start I tried to make sure we had plans settled in advance so that there would be some structure to our time, but since we have gotten to know one another it has become a lot more organic. 

“Seth has come out of his shell with me and I really enjoy the trust he places in me. I feel like he has found his place, he has good friends and seems to be a lot more confident in his personal relationships. 

“I get to see him grow into a great young man.  I like knowing that I can make the world a little better for Seth, he's a great kid and deserves that,” Shaun said. 

After winning the Auckland Business Award, Big Buddy CEO Paul Burns said he and his team are proud to be acknowledged for the contribution they make to the community. 

“Big Buddy is based on the simple idea of a great guy showing up, spending time and coming back for a boy who doesn't have his dad around. 

“Our mums and caregivers speak so highly of the impact these men have on their boys. Their boys are happier and confident, these seemingly little things can make a huge impact for a boy as he grows into a man,” Burns said. 

The charity has so far matched more than 900 Big Buddies with Little Buddies since 1997.  It operates across Auckland, Hamilton, Wellington and Tauranga and has plans to expand to Christchurch in 2021. 

Westpac NZ’s Head of Industry, Warrick Gibbs, said the bank is proud to sponsor the Community Contribution Award. 

"This award celebrates the foundation which Kiwis stand for - helping our communities grow a better New Zealand,” he said.