Child Bereavement Manager
Monica’s first job at Barnardo’s was at its therapeutic residential service. She moved on to work with its Professional Fostering Service and then joined the Child Bereavement Service.
What does your job entail?
My job is a mix of seeing children and parents for individual and group counselling following bereavement. I answer helpline calls, supervise staff, deliver training, manage budgets.
Did you always want to work in this sector?
I have a degree in social work and a social work qualification from the University of Ulster.
I knew from the age of 15 that I wanted to be a social worker and that I wanted to work with children.
My family did a lot of voluntary work in the community and I was brought up with a strong sense of justice and equality.
What other training or experience do you have?
I volunteered with Barnardo's when I was a student and my first job was with Barnardo's at a therapeutic residential service working with young people who had experienced a lot of loss and abuse.
One incident there made me realise that grief and loss can take many forms and probably set me on the path I am on today. It was Christmas Day and the young people took the tree we had put up for them and burnt it. It was a significant image and it was because they were really hurting. They were in a children's home, lonely, unhappy and feeling abandoned at Christmas and the tree made them feel even more what they were missing. It was a lesson learnt. I moved on to work with Barnardo's Professional Fostering Service and then joined the Child Bereavement Service for children aged 4-18 as scheme co-ordinator when it was set up 10 years ago.
What do you do day to day?
There is a huge demand for our support and I am very much involved in our therapeutic work.
So as well as managing the service I do counselling, training for teachers, GPs, youth workers etc and take calls on our helpline.
We also hold residential getaways to offer intensive support to families.
Every Christmas we hold a series of events to give families coping strategies for what can be a difficult time of year.
What is the most rewarding aspect of what you do?
It's when a parent comes back and tells me their child is able to sleep through the night or that they have got through a Christmas/birthday/anniversary and it was okay.
What do you like to do in your spare time?
My work means I really appreciate the simple things in life and appreciate the now.
I like to spend time with my family, my three boys and I like to laugh with my friends.
Tell us an interesting fact about yourself.
I cashed in my pension at 24 and went inter-railing around Europe. I also have an A-level in Latin!
Who has inspired you most in your life?
My parents. They gave me a sense of equality and justice and compassion to help others. And the families I work with who come through trauma and gain their ability to enjoy life again and Barnardo's as an organisation because they go that extra mile. Barnardo's believed there was a need to help children who have been bereaved, that it could make a difference -- and it does.