A day in the life of a Barnardo’s NI worker

Roberta Marshall
Roberta Marshall

Roberta Marshall is a Children’s Services Manager with Barnardo’s NI in Lisburn

She has been with Barnardo’s for 28 years – six working in Lisburn where she currently manages its Parent and Infant Programme (PIP) which has six outreach groups in Milltown, Ballymacash, Old Warren, Hillhall, Tonagh and Dromara offering support to 60 children aged 0-3 and their parents.

Roberta also manages the South Eastern Trust Family Support Service for Lisburn which provides home visits offering parents timely support with a focus on early intervention – this service is accessed through the Lisburn Family Support Hub.

I start work at 8.30am by checking my emails/phone calls. The rest of the team are also in at this time picking up the materials and activities they need for the family or group sessions before they head out. This is also a time when I am available to staff if there are any issues or concerns they want to discuss.

I have a range of management/ admin tasks to complete. I attend meetings internally with Barnardo’s and externally with commissioners and partnership agencies. I represent Barnardo’s on a number of external networks such as the Committee for the Association for Infant Mental Health NI and other Infant Mental Health networks within the Belfast and South Eastern Trust areas.

If we have events coming up or a follow-up meeting for parents who take part in one of our parenting programmes I could be organising those. Throughout the day I am always available to staff to deal with whatever unforeseen issues that might arise.

The parts of my job I really enjoy are the parts that connect me back to the children and families. Being a manager I am slightly removed from the hands-on work so I particularly enjoy meeting the children and parents in our PIP groups at different times throughout the year. I also read through all of the evaluations from parents/carers and children on the difference our work has made to them and their family. I recently read one where a child had rated themselves a ‘zero’ for happiness at the beginning and a ‘ten’ at the end. That’s what makes it all worthwhile.

One of the things currently happening in Lisburn which I think is really exciting for families is the formation of Early Intervention Lisburn which Barnardo’s is a part of. It’s a new way of working, with communities taking the lead, which we believe will make a difference to families and children across the city.