Big thank you from

Jenny Munro talks to Anne McLarnon

ANNE McLarnon, 58, is Coordinator of Colin Counselling, a community based counselling service for over 18's, which operates in the Colin area and Old Warren.

She is married with six children and lives in Bangor. Up until nine years ago Anne worked as a nurse. She also did a lot of volunteer and church work and was fascinated with how people reacted to counselling. As a busy nurse she realised people need more than just physical care and actually someone to take the time and listen to them. She was frustrated that she didn't have the time to listen as much as she wanted and after training to become a counsellor in her spare time, decided to leave her secure job and become a counsellor.

I wake at lam and try to take a 15 minute brisk walk - I live close to the beach and I find this clears my head and sets me up for the day. When I get home I have breakfast and do a few things around the house before leaving at 8.20am. I then drive to the Colin Family Centre in Poleglass, where I start work at 9.30am.

First of all I check my emails and speak to the office administrator Sheila. Each day varies and no typical day is ever the same.

My main role is to assess all the first time clients in the Colin area. I have to establish the needs of the person who requires counselling and then allocate a counsellor to them. Nine out of 10 counsellors are employed on a session base and we have one fully employed counsellor with us. The client will then meet their counsellor once a week at the centre or at a number of other designated venues in the area. It is a one to one session as confidence and privacy is very important. There are very clear guidelines regarding client information which must be adhered to.

I have keep statistical records and I line manage the counsellors and the administrator. This means I don't have many clients myself I attend strategic planning meetings and am on a lot of forums in the Colin area, which work to seek a common strategy. I regularly report to our funders and attend briefing with the Colin Neighbourhood Partnership.

People contact us in confidence and we arrange an appointment for them to come in and see us. Various agencies do make referrals to us. I have regular contact with the counsellors and make sure they are in touch with their clinical supervisors who supervise their work and provide support. I receive reports from the clinical supervisors and read through them to make sure everything is okay. I also keep a record of statistics and monthly attendance figures and assess the age range and issues presented. I update our policies and ensure the necessary legal changes are made as required and generally ensure the smooth running of the counselling service we provide.

I work part time so I have flexible hours. Working in a community based environment I have to be prepared to stay on later and attend events in the evening. Normally I leave at 4.30pm and go home to have dinner with my husband. In my spare time I visit my elderly mother and catch up with my family. My first grandchild is expected soon so I am looking forward to the new arrival. I also enjoy decorating and curtain making and in the summer I love gardening.

I really enjoy my work - it is very worthwhile and I feel fortunate that I am able to do this job.

Ulster Star