What does your job entail?
The most important part of my job is that I can be first person someone has a proper conversation with around the services of the SWAN Centre. I am a qualified counsellor and I have my own case load. I will meet up with the women who phone the front desk to have a one- to- one chat with them and to try and discuss which of the services they are interested in. If it is counselling, we sign the necessary forms and I add their names to our waiting list. When a
place becomes available, we offer them an appointment for counselling. We have 24- 26 counsellors who are all volunteers at SWAN. 12 are fully qualified and the others are on placement studying counselling at university or college. They need to get 100-120 hours so they can qualify. I manage those volunteers as well. I tend to do first ‘listening’ appointments too. I need to bear in mind anyone who comes off the street first thing, phone anyone who has contacted us and wants a call back quite urgently or if any of the ladies have cancelled. I
usually use that first hour to make sure that I can start with a level playing field before the day begins.
Why do you think counselling is so important to these women?
A lot of these women that come into SWAN do not have anyone to talk to and that is the main thing I have discovered working here. They do not have anyone they feel will listen to them. Sometimes they have lots of people they can talk to but not about things like that. For some of the women, they have had things that have happened in their lives that they have kept to themselves for such a long time. It is not necessary that it is having a massive impact on their lives, but they just want to talk about it to somebody who will give them the time and opportunity to discuss why they feel like they do about certain things and have a more meaningful conversation about
What is the best thing about your job?
Meeting the women. I am constantly amazed at the women who come through our door and their resilience. I guess this job has taught me never to judge a book by its cover because I have hear every story that someone can go through. I meet women who completely floor me. The women really open up in those listening sessions and tell you a lot about their lives. They are very powerful those first sessions and they are important. It is almost like they need to tell me everything in that first hour to convince me in a way that I should offer them counselling. I never get tired of meeting the women who come through our door, no matter what it is that they want from our service.
What is the best thing about working at SWAN?
I have worked in big organisations where I have felt inconsequential in a way. At SWAN I feel very valued, accepted and welcomed. I feel very worthwhile. I feel part of a warm team in an environment where we care about what we do. I started at SWAN as a volunteer 15 years ago. My
feeling of being a part of SWAN has remained the same since the day I started.
What is the thing you most enjoy about being a part of SWAN?
Meeting new women and seeing how they are making massive changes in their lives. From coming in to SWAN and being anxious, vulnerable and not knowing where to go to watching them take responsibility for themselves- that is what makes a huge difference. It is the courage these women have to try new things and see whether it works for them or not.
What do you do in your spare time?
I love walking. My husband and I will drive to Wales or the Lake District and try to do that as often as we can. I love reading. Quite often I will read counselling books or there will be a piece of research that I want to read about the best way to help my client. I love reading fiction,
especially crime fiction, it is just pure escapism.