Leeds GATE

Working to improve the quality of life for Gypsies and Travellers

0113 240 2444

Crown Point House,
167-169 Cross Green Lane,
Leeds LS9 0BD

Diary of a Service Delivery Manager

Sharon Hague's picture
By Sharon Hague |  November 30, 2011 |

Cathy Griffiths,  Service Delivery Manager, records her experiences of a typical working week at Leeds GATE. Keep an eye on the website for up to date diaries from other staff members.


It’s here again and so soon, I’m driving to work feeling bereft of a weekend that blurred by and have knots in my stomach, this is not good.  Ours is a small charity with huge outputs and I am pondering whether we are victims of our success or glutens for punishment.  I feel slightly sick about the week ahead, we are delivering a conference on Wednesday and have 150 people attending, and I really hope we can deliver.  Mondays are always busy for me, I help facilitate a women’s talking and nurture group in the afternoon.  The issues raised in the group are deep and sometimes penetrating, and I always find it difficult to debrief when over tired, I never fail to be moved by the shared experience of women who have lost babies and children. Despite knowing research outcomes about poor morbidity and mortality outcomes, witnessing bereavement and grief in our community members is something that requires compassion and resilience.  I recognise my resilience is low and book a weeks holiday into the next available slot.


I have a lot more energy today and think this is related to nervous tension in anticipation of our conference and learning day tomorrow.  There is a buzz in the office as we run through the agenda and staff roles for tomorrow, we are putting all the final details together and ring around our community members and management board to get the final numbers of attendance for the day.  Community development work principles and our historical learning advise that although people volunteer to assist with a genuine desire to support, sometimes life gets in the way.  This is particularly evident with our members that live on the roadside and face eviction at any time, we know at Leeds GATE that we will not know exactly who will be there until the day arrives.  This is one of the key messages that I want to deliver in the workshop that I am conducting tomorrow, people not attending appointments or failing to commit to a deadline is not about disengagement but rather a different set of priorities.  I have been disheartened before, but now I truly get it.  Earlier this year I was conducting group work in conjunction with Healthy Living Network, the group was fun and well attended.  We particularly wanted to reach the roadside community and put in lots of practical support to encourage and facilitate this.  After having raising aspiration and enthusiasm amongst the women living roadside, we arrived as promised to collect them early one Friday morning.  When we arrived to the camp we soon discovered we were not the only visitors that day, the camp was being evicted,  also in attendance were the police, bailiffs and a group of local angry residents.  How can one then say “oh do come along to our session we are  talking about MMR” in such circumstances, and further more how can we say these people are hard to reach, it is true, we are hard to reach in such circumstances.


I am up with the larks, I am excited and nervous and concerned about what to wear! Hmph, doesn’t make much sense to be concerned about what I am wearing but then I think well I am presenting myself to a whole host of professionals from up and down the country and suddenly  I feel sick.  I quickly regain focus and am arriving at the town hall; the energy amongst the team is tangible and mixed. Before I know it the day has happened, I feel slightly exhilarated and am overwhelmed at the community support we received today, three young people assisted in the delivery of the youth focused workshop, I have never heard them speak so clearly and confidently and am moved by the level of maturity and willingness shown to assist Leeds GATE and other professionals wishing to gain a better understanding.  The exhaustion from last week has left me and I am wondering what to do with my evening, in fact I really want to spend more time with my colleagues so as to debrief about the day, but all things considered it is fair that we go home and rest.


I drive to work today with a smug sense of self and Leeds GATE; I am still using up the adrenalin from yesterday.  Once in work I see that others have expended their adrenalin and there is a sense of exhalation, a calm that follows a storm.  Some of the team welcome this, whilst others feel empty and are already looking for the next big task, I’m looking at the clock and thinking when can I fit in the thank you call I need to make to the young people from yesterday?  I have so much reading to do so I can keep up to date with all the changes that are happening in the third and public sector, I am starting to feel baffled by it all.  I end the day with a Zen question “What does it all mean” and a not so Zen question, what are the implications for Gypsies and Irish Travellers?


It’s here; the doorway to the weekend, and as I contemplate this in a momentary silence, the office  doorway becomes crammed with people seeking support and advocacy services.  The day continues to be voracious and as I drive home I can still hear the bell of the door clanging and the high pitch of the ringing phone.  I shake my head, collect my dog and walk and walk and walk.

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