Big thank you from

Jenny Monroe talks to Margaret Bailie

Margaret Bailie MARGARET Bailie is the Co-ordinator of Lisburn Downtown Centre. The centre is an initiative of First Lisburn Presbyterian Church but is available for use to people of any church, faith or no religious belief. It is also available to the churches of the town as a point of their collective service to the co munity. It aims to supplement the many provisions for care available through the social Services, other voluntary organisations and church groups promoting groups to cater for unmet needs.

Margaret lives in Dromore with her husband and they have four children - three are married and the youngest is still at school.

The Minister's wife went to Bible College and studied Theology at Queens University before completing a certificate in housing and environmental issues and completing various counselling courses. She says she always knew that her calling was working with people.

I get up in the morning around 6.30am and get ready for work. Groups run all week at the centre at different times and my role is coordinating them and ensuring the smooth running of the centre. Groups include Parent & Toddlers, Support Groups, Parenting Courses, Senior Citizens, Deaf Senior Citizens, Craft, Young Adults Club, Training courses for example.

I've been running the centre for eight years. It really has progressed for the good of the community. It felt good going into an organisation that helps the whole person.

The full title expresses the centre's aim: The Lisburn Downtown Centre for community care. It is a practical expression of the Christian faith, illustrating and emphasising the worth of the individual, made in God's image. The potential for everyone to grow in self-esteem, confidence, personal fulfilment and care for others.

The centre's approach and activities allow people to participate at their own chosen level. Some may seek practical help or warm and sympathetic human contact, some may seek spiritual encouragement. The centre is offered as a contribution to the well being of the community of Lisburn.

My work involves sorting out volunteers, managing and running the centre. I deal in partnership with other agencies, voluntary and statutory. I'm very rarely in the office as I like to be hands on and involved with the groups. If I'm not involved with group work I might be at meetings or handling referrals from the Health Trusts. I am involved with most of the groups on offer and I do try my best to organise programmes that are entertaining and effective. I help run parenting courses as well as health and safety ones which provide basic food and hygiene skills.

I might be interacting with the homeless or people with alcohol addiction to give an example and I will try to match them up with people who are specialised in these areas. Working in partnership with other agencies means the provision and enabling of volunteers to make their contribution alongside professional staff. Currently a number of volunteers come from within the membership of the sponsoring Congregation. The Centre also has volunteers from the wider community who are in sympathy with and committed to the Centre's philosophy. It should therefore be seen as a network of groups and activities.

I'm never really off duty as if someone has an issue that needs attention right away I can't just turn my back. In my spare time I enjoy singing and giving talks to church groups and going to my own Church.

Ulster Star