Big thank you from

Jenny Monroe talks to Rhonda Frew

Rhonda FrewRHONDA Frew, is a Community Development Officer for Lisburn City Council based at the Bridge Community Centre. She has worked for the Council for nine years and has been in this post since January. Before taking up her current role Rhonda was the Mayor's Secretary. She felt that she needed a new challenge and is enjoying working out and about in the Lisburn community.

When I arrive at work the first thing I do is get briefed from the girls in the office on calls and issues and then check my emails. This usually takes up the first hour of the day.

I spend most of my time out and about and I absolutely love this aspect of my job.

The Community Services Section, which is based in the Bridge Community Centre, provides a vast range of support, information and advice to community and voluntary groups operating within the Lisburn City Council Area. It is my job to promote and encourage community development.

I work in a supporting capacity and help groups with funding, training and building themselves up. With the assistance of statutory and voluntary agencies I help encourage the local community itself to provide services which meet the needs of the people. Part of my remit is setting up new groups and working with existing ones.

For a community group to operate successfully it needs community support, volunteer involvement, a constitution, management committee, support and advice. If people are thinking of forming a community association I am there to help them.

Community development is a process that encourages local people to work together to achieve positive change. The benefit of a Community Association is that it allows people living within a geographical area or with a common interest, to come together to identify their own needs and raise issues of concern in areas such as housing, environmental, social, economic. They can speak with one voice and liaise with a wide range of organisations such as Lisburn City Council, Northern Ireland Housing Executive, the Health and Social Care Trust and Roads Service for example. They help to build and improve a sense of community spirit within a local community, promote a happier and more sustained community, promote the opportunity for people to build relationships with their neighbours and provide social activities that bring people together.

A constituted community group can develop projects based on community need and apply for funding to implement these. There are many examples of community projects people will be familiar with such as community fun-days and festivals and I am available to guide the groups. I also give input into how public organisations deliver their services.

Recently I was the event organiser for the Mayor's Awards for Volunteering. With the help of the various departments within the Council I put this event together and it was very rewarding seeing it all work out well on the night. It made all the planning and organisation well worth it.

I regularly have meetings with Council Officers to discuss promoting the work of community services and I have to prepare presentations for groups on filling in applications and helping them become constituted organisations.

I have a lot of evening work but it's great as I get to build up good relationships and get to know people. It really is a big big role and I could be working quite late. It is definitely a people focused job and does suit my personality.

The skills I've acquired over the years have been good grounding for what I am doing now. Working on the ground is what I do best. I like to see work I'm doing progress and helping build the confidence of groups and acquire skills is very satisfying.

Ulster Star