Big thank you from

Jenny Munro talks to Pamela Neill

PAMELA Neill is General Manager of Voluntary Service Lisburn (VSL). She is married with three grown-up children and two grandchildren and lives in Boardmills. Previously she worked as a PR Director for the Salvation Army: While she loved this role she jumped at the opportunity to take up her current position two and a half years ago as it was closer to home and she knew the job would be provide a fantastic experience.

I wake at 6.30am, get ready for work and do some housework before setting off for the office. which is based in Bachelors Walk.

I arrive most days at 8.30am and I normally walk through the work-shop speaking to the staff and seeing what work has to be done. I'll give instructions to my team before opening the post and checking emails. I then see what appointments I have for the day and prioritise the list of things to be done.

I love my job and can't wait to get into the office each day. It's not often people can say that.

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.

Over the years VSL has developed projects to keep up to date with the needs of local people. It is my responsibility to ensure the smooth and successful running of these projects with the help of my team.

The projects 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. I am also involved in getting new initiatives started.

For example at the moment I am overseeing a pilot scheme in the Dunmurry area - the 'safe and well project' where volunteers befriend people in the local community and do small tasks for them such as shopping.

Another project I am extremely proud of and heavily involved in is the furniture restoration scheme.

VSL collects and restores unwanted items with a view to selling at a low cost to those on low incomes. 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.

Our Volunteer Centre encourages and places volunteers in organisations throughout the Lisburn area. Volunteers offer their time freely but in return get many benefits, from additional job training and skills to simply building up self-esteem and self-confidence. This has enabled many to return to the job market or help others to develop new skills. With our help, many hundreds of people devote their free time to worthwhile projects.

As well as the day-to-day running of VSL I liaise with a number of local government bodies and businesses. I am in regular contact with the Probation Board for Northern Ireland and I have to work closely with the co-ordinator at VSL to make sure anyone sent to us to do community service attends. Once a month I have to meet with the Board of Directors for VSL who volunteer their time, talents and expertise to guide and advise on our work. I present a report which keeps them fully informed on all issues affecting the organisation.

Usually I am up to my eyes in the office trying to meet deadlines and organise additional funding and arranging meetings with local businesses to help develop new initiatives.

Around 5.30pm I finish. On the way home 1 often call in to see my grandchildren. 1 am still involved with the Salvation Army and am on the board of directors for various organisations and am also on a board of governors for a local school.

If l am not out at a meeting I might be giving a talk to a ladies organisation. This keeps me very busy If I do have a free evening. which is rare, after dinner I like to relax and catch up on the housework. I am always preparing for something around the corner and researching what is happening in my area of work.

Most evenings by 10.30pm I am shattered and head to bed. I really am thankful to have the job and family I do and that is why I try to live life to the full.

Ulster Star