I was born in Stoke-on-Trent, moving to the Staffordshire Moorlands as a young child and and later working at the old Madeley College of Education (a few miles from Keele – now a housing estate) and in the local pottery industry during a time of change when many of the local traditional crafts and processes were being outsourced overseas, and only a handful of potteries remained to flourish in Stoke-on-Trent. I then moved to Staffordshire University where I enjoyed 7 years supporting the academics in the Geography Department, and welcoming new students every year.
Following several visits to Australia where we have family, my husband, children and I made the decision to emigrate to Adelaide. This was an exciting experience and it didn’t take long to get used to the wonderful weather! I became part of a volunteering project in the southern suburbs of Adelaide, establishing a parenting support network with a base where parents and carers could access resources, listen to expert speakers and make connections, in a diverse area with indigenous families, established local residents and migrants from all over the world. This was an experience which I thoroughly enjoyed and learned a lot from. Following this I secured a role with CSIRO Plant Industry on the Waite campus of the University of Adelaide, in administrative and HR support to the international community of scientists, researchers and students, with the main projects being the genetic modification of fruits and developing pest-resistant grapevines in this important wine producing area. I also helped new international staff and students to become familiar with Adelaide, the local area, culture and services. It was a great place to work and I made friends from all over the world.
Returning to the UK after 6 years (temporarily as we thought) due to a family illness, we put down roots again and I worked for 18 years for Stoke-on-Trent City Council in a number of roles including project support to the WHO Healthy City programme, where we successfully bid for continued Healthy City status for Stoke-on-Trent I was involved in projects around greenspace, implementing public health benefits in the planning process and rolling out an online NHS health check service for GP clinics. During this time I achieved an Open University Certificate in Understanding Health, and investigated initiatives to stop smoking, comparing projects in Sheffield and Chennai, India. A later role was as Community Development Worker for adults with learning disabilities and autism, creating and developing opportunities to support the transition to independence and confidence. These included the Valued Volunteers scheme, recruiting volunteers to be matched with vulnerable adults to enable them to take part in the social activities of their choice, and the Safer Places scheme, a network of venues across Stoke-on-Trent which agreed to support and assist vulnerable people if they needed help whilst out in the community.
Most recently I have been employed as a Project Worker in the Start to Success Project, a joint initiative between Staffordshire and Keele Universities, promoting a whole community approach to student mental health and wellbeing. My role as Progression and Success Officer involved creating a map of the student journey, identifying gaps and developing interventions to meet the needs of students of different demographics, through working with students in focus groups and forums and analysing and improving the Break in Studies process. This project came to an end in March 2022 and I am delighted to working on the ECLIPSE Project which brings together my interests in community engagement, public health and social inclusion, and to be supporting the multidisciplinary team which carries out this vital work.