Big thank you from

Jenny Monroe talks to Gay Sherry-Bingham

Gay Sherry-Bingham GAY Sherry-Bingham is the Centre Manager of ATLAS - an organisation which aims to improve the quality of life for people in Lisburn City and the surrounding rural areas. She lives in Upper Ballinderry with her husband and two children Shane and Kacey.

Gay first became involved with ATLAS (Adult Training Learning And Support) when she volunteered as a cr�che worker for some of the workshops offered in the community. She then worked as a cr�che supervisor and was involved with project management before being appointed Centre Manager in September.

I get up most mornings at 6.45am and do some exercises before I have breakfast. I get myself ready for the day ahead and drive my daughter to the bus stop.

I normally arrive at ATLAS, which is based on Sloan Street, at 8.15am, and talk with some of the other girls who arrive early too.

We have a coffee shop and a cr�che facility, which approximately 1000 adults and children from all sections of the community benefit from each year. The cafe is very popular in the mornings so there is always a nice buzz to the place.

I go in to my office and organise my day. I have to manage the general running of the organisation as well as deal with finances, fundraising, updates, projects, courses and I spend time liaising with the staff and volunteers. We provide educational, leisure, recreational and health awareness courses and workshops which are available morning, afternoon and evenings.

As a team we are always trying to promote ourselves, improve access to the services, develop services, actively promote health and wellbeing, increase confidence, self-esteem, and a sense of wellbeing with our target groups (children and families, disadvantaged, isolated and excluded individuals), increase the use of health and social care services and facilities by local groups, develop local service provision in response to local need and encourage and support participation in community activity which may lead to participation in social, economic and cultural activity. This keeps us all very busy.

A lot of my time is taken up with team meetings, receiving referrals from GP's and other bodies, planning ahead, seeking funding and talking to students to make sure we are delivering what they need and want.

There is definitely a very informal feel to the office and people come in and out all the time for a chat over a cup of tea. I am out and about quite a bit visiting community groups and promoting ATLAS. We also run a number of courses in venues throughout the city and countryside for people who find it harder to get to us.

There's a course to suit most of our students' needs and interests. ATLAS provides educational and leisure courses for all adults. For example: Computer Courses, Maths or English, First Aid or Basic Food Hygiene, Confidence Building and Stress Management , Art & Crafts, Jewellery Making and Painting and much, much more. If we don't have a course some people would like we will try to get it on.

I normally leave after 5pm but the nights am delivering the Child Protection Course I stay on until after 9pm. When I go home i like to go for a run with my friends before having dinner and catching up with my family. Most nights I am in bed by midnight.

Ulster Star