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Be Inspired Series

Claire Dorris

Knowledge Management Officer
National Children's Bureau (NCB) NI

“The young people we work with keep us grounded, remind us of why we are doing what we do, and inspire us regularly with their ideas, courage and energy,” said Claire.

What does your job entail?

National Children’s Bureau NI is a research and development organisation that seeks to influence policy to improve outcomes for children and young people.

As knowledge management officer my role is to ensure that the research evidence we produce is disseminated and utilised by those in a position of influence.

We don’t want to research for research’s sake, rather we aim to ensure our research is policy relevant and timely, and is ultimately used to make a difference to the lives of children and young people.

My regular tasks include responding to policy consultations; summarising evidence to produce research and policy briefings; dissemination of information through our quarterly newsletter; keeping up-to-date with the work of the NI Assembly and building relationships with MLAs and other key stakeholders and ongoing communication through PR and social media.

One of my projects has a focus on prevention and early intervention.

I am assisting the Public Health Agency to support the roll out and development of evidence based parenting programmes across Northern Ireland as well as the regional development of infant mental health training and support.

Is it 9-5?

My role is mostly a 9am-5pm one.

However, when working with children and young people it’s often necessary to work after school or weekend hours to accommodate the times that suit them best.

I enjoy the flexibility and it’s nice to be able to get involved in the direct work we do with young people!

How did you get into this line of work?

Having studied psychology at A-level and degree level, I have always had an interest in child development and hoped to use this at some stage in my career.

Like most people graduating from university I didn’t walk straight into a job in my chosen field.

However, through gaining work experience and building on my qualifications, I’m now doing a job I love. Outline your career to date.

Directly after leaving university I spent time in customer service roles, working in a bank and then the Civil Service, before moving into the voluntary sector.

These roles, while not directly relevant to my current post, gave me a great foundation in dealing with people face-to- face, an essential skill in any role.

After leaving the Civil Service I spent four years working at the NI Council for Integrated Education, before moving to NCB NI as personal assistant to the director.

Working as a PA really helped me to enhance my knowledge of current policy and practice issues in the children and young people’s sector.

This experience led to my promotion to knowledge management officer and I have been doing this role for a year and a half now.

Tell us about your qualifications/training.

I graduated in 1999 with a BSc Hons in psychology from Queen’s University, Belfast.

More recently I undertook a Masters in social research methods at the University of Ulster.

This course was delivered through e-learning so I was able to work full-time and study in the evenings.

What qualities are required for your job — personal and professional?

I am a bit of a bookworm.

A love of reading is essential when working in a job like this, as there are always new research and policy reports and it’s essential to keep abreast of the latest developments in the sector.

While I’m not directly carrying out research work, an ability to understand and interpret statistical information is essential.

Due to the central role of children and young people in our work, all staff at NCB NI must have an ability to work with children and young people in a respectful way.

Knowledge of child protection issues is also essential.

What are the biggest challenges and rewards of your work?

The biggest challenge for me is ensuring I keep up-to-date with emerging policy issues and make the most of those small windows of opportunity to share our work and influence policy.

In turn, the biggest reward is seeing recommendations from our work being taken forward and actually making a difference in the lives of children and young people.

The young people we work with keep us grounded, remind us of why we are doing what we do, and inspire us regularly with their ideas, courage and energy.

What do you like to do in your spare time?

My favourite pastimes are of the art and craft variety. I love making jewellery and can often be found endlessly categorising my bead collection!

I’ve also just got a lovely new painter’s easel for my birthday so I’m really looking forward to making use of that.

I am a regular gym-goer and walker, and have recently climbed my first mountain, so I’m hoping to do a bit more of that in the near future.

Tell us an interesting fact about yourself.

Many years ago I was Ulster under-seven Irish dancing champion — a fact that came back to haunt me when my brother produced my child-sized Irish dancing dress at my wedding.

All eyes were on me on the dance floor for all the wrong reasons!

Who has inspired you most in your life?

I am really fortunate to work with some really inspiring colleagues, who care about the work they are doing and have such a huge wealth of knowledge and experience.

 

In particular, I have learnt a lot from my line managers, who have inspired and encouraged me to aim higher and have confidence in my abilities.

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