Big thank you from

Judith Cairns

Judith Cairns

Judith Cairns, 37, from Ballinderry is the Chief Executive officer of the charity `Love for Life NI', which works towards the vision of communities in which young people have a healthy respect for themselves, relationships and sex.

Judith has a degree in Psychology and spent time in Hong Kong as an English teacher for a Mission agency, before working in various charities across the province. She was appointed Chief Executive earlier this year and is enjoying the challenging new role. Judith is married to Dessie and they have two children Matthew, 8, and Beth, 6.

I leave the hustle and bustle of getting the children ready for school and head to work for 9am. We are based in Waringstown so the drive to the office is much more relaxing than struggling with traffic jams.

Love for Life is Northern Ireland's most established provider of Relationship and Sexuality Education. The charity fully supports and embraces the Revised Curriculum, which aims to empower young people to achieve their potential and to make informed and responsible decisions throughout their lives.

We deliver engaging school and youth programmes to over 30,000 young people across Ireland each year, as well as actively contributing to regional health and education policy. We believe relationships matter. Never before have young people faced such relentless pressure to be sexually active at an early age. Reminding young people of their value and worth is core to our message as well as supporting them in their personal development and decision making. I feel that the advice given by Love for Life is very valuable in providing a balance to the sometimes distorted ideas about sex that some young people have. Young people and their choices around relationships matter.

I start my day off checking emails and making sure everything is running smoothly. My main role is supporting staff and developing the future of Love for Life. I spend my time liaising with the team and the Board of Directors who I meet with once a month. There is incredible commitment to the organisation.

Coming up with fundraising ideas is another part of my job. It is challenging trying to continually think of innovative and creative ideas, especially in the current climate, but we rely heavily on the gifts and generosity of our supporter base and we are keen to develop this. We are also trying to recruit interns at the moment who will join us for the year starting in September, they will be part of the school delivery team, traveling across Ireland, presenting this important message, so I have been developing application packs and promoting this opportunity.

In addition, we are part of a number of networks and work closely with the Health Trusts, so I could be out at meetings with representatives from these agencies. I am fast realising that there is no typical day, or for that matter typical week, but it is the variety that I love. This week we were involved in organising and facilitating a 'pastoral care in sensitive issues' training course for church leaders, along with planning for participation in a number of conferences over the summer.

Our team of dedicated and skilled staff and volunteers are committed to making a difference in the lives of young people and their community. Our parenting programmes seek to affirm parents in the vital contribution they make to the lives and choices of their children and to empower and equip them with the necessary information and skills to talk about and support young people in this key area.

I have a very hands on role and I am keen to continue developing and building on what has been. I feel privileged to hold my position. My job is challenging but I believe in what we are doing.

This is a more challenging culture than ever before and if we do not stand up and promote an informed, open and supportive alternative to that being presented then who will?

Ulster Star