What is your career background?
After college, my plan had been to become a teacher, I took a year out, did some sub teaching, worked in Sligo Credit Union and then moved to the council as a clerical officer in the housing department.
Once I got into the council my path went in its own direction. I had the opportunity to work in a number of sections including housing, planning, environment, water, community and economic development and EU Programme management. Getting a few promotions along the way, I also undertook a two-year MBA in DCU.
I have had the opportunity to work in various roles including, operations, project management and also in a strategic and developmental capacity over the years. I also spent some time as Project Leader on the East City, Cranmore and Environs Regeneration Programme so my experience has been diverse and, even though I never became that teacher, through the role I have been able to do what I wanted in another way – mentoring new staff and seeing things grow.
What does your role involve?
I am an Administrative Officer in the Community and Economic Development Unit. A the moment, I work on the community side of the house having previously worked in economic development for about two years. The economic side involved developing a tourism strategy, a diaspora strategy and amongst other things administering Failte Ireland festival grants, etc.
Now, on the community side my role is very diverse and ranges from operational matters to strategy development and EU applications and funding. For example, I would be involved in LCDC Programmes, such as PEACE Programme activity, Healthy Ireland and community resilience initiatives, overseeing community grants, and supporting Social Inclusion measures like Comhairle na nOg and Age Friendly. Over the past year, community resilience and Healthy Ireland have been a big part of the role along with facilitating the COVID Community Response Forum.
This week, as a typical week we are starting our Local Economic and Community Plan review so I have been looking at the plan for public consultations, and stakeholder engagement. There is also a Peace Plus programme consultation ongoing so I am working on a paper giving views on how that should be designed. I’m also meeting with the Healthy Ireland Coordinator to talk about how the community resilience programme is going. So, a mix of everything really.
What are the most rewarding things about working for a local authority?
I am a Sligo person, so I find it really rewarding to be involved in projects for Sligo and the people of Sligo like the diaspora project or our tourism promotion projects.
You can see the outcomes of the work you do, in your community. Under the Peace Programme, for example, we delivered a Cantilevered Shared Space on the site of the Stephen Street Cultural Plaza. The project enhances the centre of Sligo and provides an attractive riverside viewing point accessible to all. It’s nice to look at such projects and to know that I had a part in its delivery.
Also under community resilience we delivered some really beneficial and tangible projects to help people get through the winter COVID restrictions. For instance, we delivered a virtual “cook along” for older people which enabled people to stay connected and do something fun during the winter months, this was supplemented with assistance in getting people set up virtually. The programme was so popular that we ran it 3 times engaging with about 50 people. We received some lovely messages from those who took part saying how much it meant to them. We also developed a series of 6 videos which we ran over 6 weeks on social media to bring a bit of positivity into people’s lives during the restrictions, these videos ranged from tips for a healthy mind and body, to celebrating neighbourliness through a day in the life of a post-worker, to tips and positivity for the return to school after lockdown. The response was phenomenal with the campaign receiving about 45k views on the councils social media channels.
A lot of our work in the community section is about bringing people together and it’s just not bricks and mortar.
Why should someone consider a career with their local authority?
The roles available in local authorities are much more diverse than people may think, and there is so much to learn from every opportunity and certainly I found that no two days are the same.
There are also opportunities to self develop and to be a part of developing your county through interesting projects and the delivery of services to the local area, which is really rewarding.