Our Get to Know series will focus on the key members of the SWAN Women’s Centre team, so you can get to know them a little more. First up is Karen Christie, who is the Chief Executive of the centre.
What does your job entail?
Every day is different but I am responsible for the overall development and day to day running of the organisation. A large part of my role is ensuring that we have funding to deliver services that women want. I am also involved in staff recruitment and working with the team to ensure that we have got the right people doing the right jobs. The bit of my job that I really enjoy is being able to engage with the women who use the centre. If I am in the reception area, I take the opportunity to chat with the women coming in.
What do you do in a day?
It could be anything from organising staff training to reviewing budgets for the year ahead. We are in the process of setting up a new service, so today I have been working with the team who are going to be delivering it, thinking about the publicity for that new service.
What is the best thing about your job?
It is being able to play a part in providing services for women that really make a difference to their lives.
What’s the best thing about working at SWAN?
Being able to witness the changes that women experience from using the services that we provide. We see women who come into the centre and are depressed and who may not have going out of their homes for quite some time. They may feel anxious and have very little confidence or self-esteem. Over time they begin to feel differently and start to build friendships and a support network with other people who have been coming to the centre or trying new activities that have a positive impact on the way they feel. It is a very empowering and supportive environment. If anyone has a day when they are not feeling at their best, there is support within the team to talk things through.
In what ways does SWAN benefit women?
I hope that SWAN benefits women locally in terms of the services that we provide, and I hope that women feel better for coming into the centre. Sometimes people tell me it is not just about the service that we provide, but it is about women feeling accepted for who they are and not judged for the reason that they have come through the door.
Women don’t always come into the centre to access services such as counselling or therapies. Some women who just come in just to share a cup of tea, to chat to someone. Some people come in because they might not have had contact with anyone for a few days. I guess the centre is important to women because it’s a place that they know there will be someone they can talk to about everyday problems and they will be treated with care and respect.
What do you like to do in your spare time?
I do lots of things. I like to walk and I love climbing as well as cycling. You can often see me out on my bike at the weekend either around Wirral or West Lancashire. I am a road cyclist so I will be the one who passes you in Lycra. I enjoy spending time with my family. I have a large family and two adult children and I enjoy spending time with all of them. I love music, everything from Motown to disco and country music.