What is your career background?
I am originally from South Africa but relocated to Ireland in 2014 with my wife, who is from Mayo. I had trained in psychology but with Ireland in recession at that time I thought it was a good time to go back to education. I always had a passion for sport and healthy living and so I retrained in exercise and fitness and in 2016 I joined Mayo County Council as an Assistant Sports Development Officer with Mayo Sports Partnership.
After three years working with the Sports Partnership, I moved to the Community Engagement section of the council and now work as the Healthy Mayo Coordinator. I feel I’ve come circle in term of my career – I trained in psychology and am now dealing a lot with mental health for example.
What does your role involve?
My role involves co-ordinating the health and wellbeing initiatives the council runs as part of the national Healthy Ireland programme which aims to improve the health and wellbeing of the population of Ireland. I work to support initiatives in areas like mental health, physical activity, nutrition, and tobacco and alcohol.
There are so many elements to what I do, for example we have a role in aiming to create spaces and places that support health and wellbeing so we would link in with our Planning section here for that. I work with lots of other sections of the council too, from our Sports Partnership to our Tourism section to our Age Friendly Officer.
We engage externally with community groups and partner organisations who are seeking funding for projects, make applications to our funding partners and report back to those partners on how funding is being spent.
What are the most rewarding things about working for a local authority?
I think having the opportunity to help people and give back to your community is the most rewarding aspect. I really enjoy working with the Community Engagement section, especially now, because we are at the coalface of the response to the pandemic and supporting individuals and communities. As well as that you get the satisfaction of seeing the initiatives you have been a part of become a reality and leave a positive legacy.
Why should someone consider a career with a local authority?
It’s sometimes easy to underestimate the wide range of services councils are involved in, as well as the multitude of career options available. There are roles for people skilled in administration, engineering, the arts, planning, business development – too many to even mention.
There are also lots of training and education opportunities, a clear career pathway in the council, and lots of benefits like secure employment, flexible working arrangements and generous annual leave allowances. It all adds up to a very attractive package.