Big thank you from

Jenny Munro talks to Julie-Anne Bell

Julie-Anne Bell JULIE-ANNE Bell, 37, is a local community worker. She works as a receptionist and administrator for Voluntary Service Lisburn (VSL), and is a youth leader at Lisburn YMCA.

Julie-Anne is the daughter of former MLA and Lisburn Councillor Billy Bell and she used to work in her father's constituency office before taking up her current role. She is very passionate about her work in the community and enjoys working with children.

I wake at 7.30am, get ready for work and say goodbye to my son Stuart, 19, who leaves for work shortly before me. After breakfast I bolt out the door at 8.30am and usually sit in traffic for 20 minutes before I get to VSL, which is based in Bachelors Walk.

When I arrive I normally make a cup of tea to set myself up for the day. From 9am until I leave, the phones never stop. Voluntary Service Lisburn provides a range of services touching the lives of many people in the local community - the elderly, the physically disabled, those with learning difficulties, the unemployed and the disadvantaged.

The projects VSL operate are diverse - there is a range of community schemes including a volunteer centre, aftercare service, conservation and environmental work, furniture restoration and sales and the recycling of white goods such as cookers and washing machines. As well as the general administration side of things I take calls from people who want to donate items to us and I'll note the items and the callers details. VSL collects and restores unwanted items with a view to selling at a low cost to those on low incomes; I make sure our drivers have their delivery dockets and know where they have to go on a particular day.

A lot of people call into the office as well and I will deal with their queries. I direct them to the right place or person to speak to. We have a beautiful furniture showroom where we display the restored items.

Members of the public are welcome to browse and even visit our workshop to talk with our staff and see for themselves how the work is carried out. There are other offices on sight too so there's never a dull moment. I usually spend my day laughing to be honest and I really enjoy my work at VSL.

I leave the office at 5pm and twice a week I head to Lisburn YMCA. On a Monday night I help run the Learning Disabled club.

I organise programmes for the members and keep the volunteers up-to-date with what is going on and what is in the pipeline. We all pitch in to run the club and we do try to keep it fun for the members. We have pool competitions healthy eating events and lots of other activities. On a Tuesday night I take the Junior Youth Club. Again I help organise as many fun activities as possible. The kids are generally very good at telling us what they want to do and regularly we do things such as bowling. It means a lot to me to see the children having fun and enjoying themselves.

I finish at the YMCA at 9pm and head straight home. Other nights I might be out at Community Association meetings. At the moment I am trying to help set up a newsletter for the Ballymacash area to let the youths know what is going on at the local churches and youth centres in their area.

When I do go home I put my feet up and relax with a good book. In my spare time I enjoy socialising and going to heavy metal concerts. I normally go to bed at 12am.

Ulster Star