John Kelly, Manager Community Northern Beaches
What is your role?
My role is incredibly varied, I’m called upon to do everything in a real “all hands on deck” environment. I have a strategic and business focus to manage today and into the future to ensure we can continue to deliver services to the community. Building partnerships and relationships with government, corporate and other NFP’s is critical. We have managed to build the largest community hub on the Northern Beaches with 18 accommodated services in-house plus a number of other partnerships supporting programmes off-site. There is also mundane parts of the role like changing light bulbs, emptying rubbish and any heavy lifting! That helps me stay grounded in the role, as you can’t be precious with the work we do.
Can you describe a typical day in your life at the centre?
A typical day can be quite chaotic as I never know what might be around the corner. Our varied client base certainly keeps us on our toes. Of course in my role I can never escape the paperwork but this tends to occur around ensuring clients, customers and accommodated services are all properly looked after. People come before paper. My quiet time is before and after we open the doors, and this is the opportunity to write reports and respond to correspondence.
What motivated you to choose a career in community services?
I chose a career in community services after working in local government where I spent 14 years across four Councils. I wanted to be in an environment where I had the opportunity to explore new ways to do things. Working in smaller, more under resourced environments makes you think outside the box, act with agility and a strength of purpose to achieve outcomes for your clients who are all having a worse day than you are.
Tell me about a particularly memorable moment during your time at Community Northern Beaches?
There have been many memorable moments since starting my role at Community Northern Beaches. From an organisational viewpoint changing our name, logo and marketing was a terrific team effort and a significant way forward to take us across the Beaches.
Getting DGR/PBI* status after many years of knockbacks was sensational for Community Northern Beaches and particularly our team who work so hard. Also, last year we held the first ever Client Festive Celebration, it was a truly uplifting experience for not only our clients but staff, volunteers and our great supporters The Clontarf Sisterhood.
What do you believe makes Community Northern Beaches special?
I think what makes our centre special is the people involved and the effort that they put in. If this was mirrored across the whole of society, we would be in a better space as a community and a country.
What would your advice be to someone looking to reach out for help but doesn’t know where to start?
My advice to anyone looking for help who doesn’t know where to start is to look for a community organisation first. They may or may not be able to address your needs but they will definitely give you the time and attention you need to help you begin your journey. The compassion and empathy is there with staff and volunteers, and this is often what people seeking support need the most.
*DGR: A deductible gift recipient (DGR) is an entity or fund that can receive tax deductible gifts
*PBI: A public benevolent institution (PBI) is a charity whose main purpose is to relieve poverty, sickness, suffering or disability.
Homelessness on the Northern Beaches
Daniel Peterson, Community Northern Beaches Homeless Outreach worker shares with us about people experiencing homelessness on Sydney’s Northern Beaches and what our centre is trying to do to help.