A day in the life of the Doorway Chief Executive

Lisa’s Guest Opinion Column in the Gazette & Herald Newspaper – April 2014

My job title of ‘Chief Executive’ is somewhat misleading considering the variety of tasks and responsibilities that I have acquired over the years whilst working at Doorway.

And so, here is the short version of a random day in my working life…

Anyone who works alongside me knows that I am not a morning person and so as I stumble into the office at 9am on a Thursday morning the first task on the agenda involves the consumption of copious amounts of strong coffee whilst answering emails.

I then attempt, very unsuccessfully, to finalise a strategic planning document that I have been working on for what seems like months as one of our volunteers arrives in the office to organise the movement of food donations around our various different locations.

Since two out of four of my staff are on leave it is my job to buy the provisions, and so on the way down the high street to the drop-in I stop off to buy eggs for breakfast on Monday and milk for today. I am now faced with a vast array of shelves and shelves of different types of eggs and I am panicking since generally I cannot cope with 1. shopping and 2. having to make a choice. To make matters even worse the eggs that I normally see in the fridge each week are not in stock and rather pathetically I can feel the stress mounting rapidly.

There is also a maddening moment when I realise that there is no way that I am going to be able to carry my handbag, my briefcase, 45 eggs AND 6 pints of milk and so I have to make a second trip out to buy the milk and pay the veg bill at the local greengrocers.

As I enter the kitchen, the overwhelming smell of lunch hits my nostrils and I realise that I am starving. I don an apron and start sorting out all the stuff that is needed to set up for the drop-in whilst catching up with the cooks and making sure that they are okay.

My next task is to counsel a volunteer on a personal manner before leading the briefing session with all the volunteers and my two support workers. Since the majority of them are rather high spirited today it takes all my concentration to keep them under control and I, only half-jokingly, threaten to introduce the concept of a naughty step.

The session starts at 12.30pm and my responsibility for the next three hours involves assessing every guest as they come through the door and then delegating them to either one of my two support workers or to one of my team of volunteers according to their needs and issues.

It’s an extremely busy session but I manage to squeeze in some time doing one-to-one support with several guests covering topics such as alcohol dependency, domestic violence and suicide. A very intense and emotional conversation also takes place between myself and two guests as I try to get them to talk to each other and express their frustrations about one of them self-harming. I also manage to devour some lunch at about 2.45pm.

Three hours later we close the doors and I then lead the debrief with team. Afterwards, I complete two DBS application forms with new volunteers and then check the building is all in order and lock up.

It’s now 5.10pm and I dash into the hairdressers for a quick haircut. There is then the frustrating realisation, as I speed up the high street at 5.40pm, that the chemist is shut and I am now unable to buy sterilising wipes (the ones I found in the drop-in earlier had all expired). I also get a text from one of my support workers confirming that guest x actually went to the doctor appointment.

Once I am back in the office I make several phone calls, answer emails and finalise the paperwork from the session. After printing off loads of publicity stuff for the Friends of Doorway event this weekend, I look at the clock before locking up and heading home. It’s 7.15pm and I have managed another ten hour working day.

The publicity paperwork is dropped off at a volunteer’s house on my drive home and I collapse on the sofa at 7.40pm. My hubby takes one look at me and silently hands me a large glass of wine. He then makes me cheese on toast and I begin to unwind…

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