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Building a better community for people in Stafford

By Staffordshire Newsletter  |  Posted: February 16, 2014

By Sarah Marshall

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AGE: 45

HOME: Stafford

OCCUPATION: Deputy centre Manager at Highfields Signpost Centre

FAMILY: 3 children – aged 19, 16 & 12

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WHERE WERE YOU BORN? Edinburgh

WHAT WAS YOUR UPBRINGING LIKE? I had a happy childhood in a lovely Christian family with Mum, Dad and 2 older sisters and lots of pets. We moved from Edinburgh to Buckinghamshire when I was 14

WHAT DID YOU WANT TO DO WHEN YOU LEFT SCHOOL? I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do so I went to Southampton University and gained 2-1 degree in Psychology as I was interested in people and what makes them tick

WHAT WAS YOUR FIRST JOB? I took a year out after University and went to Nottingham to work for a Christian-run Café in an old music hall in the city centre. I decided to pursue a career which involved caring for people, particularly those who are disadvantaged and marginalised by society by going into social work, & got a job as a social work assistant in Leicester to gain experience of the sector. I completed my MA / Diploma in Social Work in 1995 at Leicester University and qualified as a social worker.

HOW DID YOUR CAREER AND LIFE PROGRESS? On qualifying I gained a job as a qualified social worker in the oncology department of the City Hospital in Nottingham working with people with cancer where I stayed for 6 years and loved it – offering advice, guidance & emotional support to adults going through the different stages of their cancer journey. In 2003 I moved to Shrewsbury where I took a career break for 3 years to focus on bringing up my 3 young children.

HOW DID YOU GET INVOLVED WITH THE SIGNPOST CENTRE? When I moved to Stafford in 2006 I was keen to get back into paid employment but had reservations about going back into the statutory sector. I heard about the Signpost centre project which was in its early stages of development and became very excited about it as a concept and felt that it would combine my social work background and desire to help people, with my Christian faith, as the project was to be run with a Christian ethos and had developed in part out of Rising Brook Baptist church and their desire to be working in the community of Highfields. I applied for and got the post of centre coordinator with particular responsibility for administration when the centre first opened in 2007.

TELL US ABOUT YOUR JOB AND WHAT IS INVOLVES. In 2012 we had a staff reorganisation and I became Deputy centre manager with overall responsibility for the day to day management of the Highfields centre. The job is incredibly varied but essentially I manage, supervise and recruit staff and volunteers, organise room bookings, collect data & report to our funders, do some of the funding applications particularly for project based funding, ordering of supplies, administration and health & safety of the centre, and work directly with clients if the centre becomes very busy …and respond to any dramas & crises in the centre!

WHAT ARE YOUR AMBITIONS FOR THE FUTURE?

I would like to continue to develop this community based project to more fully meet the needs of local residents, and personally to develop my management skills at Signposts. At its best I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else as this role combines many of my skills and interests and I love the freedom and flexibility we have in helping people more creatively.

TELL US AN INTERESTING FACT ABOUR YOURSELF. I love to sing and am part of the worship group at my church - Rising Brook Baptist Church. I am going with a group to Russia in March to help build a church!

HOBBIES – I enjoy going to the gym to keep fit. I enjoy decorating and love gardening- particularly growing vegetables.

CAR: C1 Citroen

MUSIC: A wide selection

FAVOURITE HOLIDAY DESTINATION: A gite in France in the middle of the countryside.

FAVOURITE FOOD & DRINK: indian & Italian; good red wine.

FAVOURITE NEWSPAPER: Guardian

FAVOURITE BOOK: Dr Seuss – ‘oh, the places you’ll go’ and the Bible.

FAVOURITE PIN-UP: That would be telling!

THINGS YOU LOVE/THINGS YOU HATE: I love building true community & spending time with my children, I hate injustice, and when technology won’t do what you want it to.

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