Big thank you from

Jenny Monroe talks to Cheryl Stewart

CHERYL Stewart, 39, is the age and disability Manager with BT in Northern Ireland. She lives locally with her husband Noel and they have a daughter Rebecca, 4.

Cheryl has worked for BT for twenty years in various roles and took up her current Manager's job five years ago. She directs a team dedicated to promoting awareness of the company's products and services amongst older and disabled people.

I wake up at 5.30am in order for me to be at work for 7am. My husband gets our daughter organised so I can leave the house after 6am. Some days I drive to work and others I take the train.

When I arrive at the BT Call Centre in Belfast I switch my computer on and begin to work out what has to be done that day. As disability manager I am heavily involved with the planning of events, campaigns and promotion of products to our customers.

My team and I regularly speak to the customers and we try to address their queries and offer solutions. BT have been helping people overcome barriers to communication for over eighty years.

I am in touch with social services quite often regarding problems that a particular person might have. We will put people in touch with other organisations or charities who might be able to help them further. We often have referrals from charities involved with the welfare of the elderly and disabled, who we work very closely with. My team and I are proud to work passionately in the interests of our older and disabled customers.

BT absolutely understands the value of a traditional phone service for many of our older and disabled customers. We also strongly believe that new technology can enhance the quality of life of all our customers and we are now focusing on understanding how technologies are improving the lives of older and disabled people.

I regularly chat with colleagues on the mainland and I also liaise with the different departments based locally too. Team meetings are held to update staff and provide training. As well as myself there are two dedicated people in my team but if we are out at an exhibition there could be up to six people.

I report to the Call Centre manager once a week and communicate with the PR and marketing staff too. If an exhibition is coming up I'll meet with teams involved and sort out what stands are required and discuss how we can gain maximum exposure.

I have a lot of paperwork to do as well as responding to emails and answering customer queries from people who phone the call centre with a specific issue. Some people can't hear very well over the phone, or have problem with their sight and require assistance. I can make suitable arrangements for these customers including largeprints, bills in braille and audio cd's. My team also offers face-to-face visits depending on the circumstances. All our advice is free.

We have a good spread of customers all over the province. At the beginning of a week we will check the diary and organise what areas will be visited on a specific day.

I will leave the office between 4.30 and 5.30pm. I collect Rebecca from her cr�che and go home and start the dinner. Then Noel comes home and we have our meal and a good chat before I put Rebecca to bed.

I'll then make lunches for the morning and do the ironing. I used to run a lot but now I tend to run once a week and maybe at the weekend.

Normally I'll head to bed after reading the paper and try to sleep by 10.30pm.

My job is thoroughly rewarding and something I really enjoy doing.

Ulster Star