'Childhood is such a precious time'
PUBLISHED: 12:07 14 April 2015 | UPDATED: 12:07 14 April 2015
Five minutes with . . . Susan Dowling, team manager, NSPCC Ipswich service centre
How did your career path lead you to your current role with the NSPCC?
When I qualified as a social worker, I worked in a children and families team. I became aware of the lack of services for older children and teenagers – at the time there were no specialist services available to help them work through their problems. A post became available in Norfolk that was about helping children suffering in some highly sensitive areas. This became a lifelong interest, and when this work came under the remit of the Youth Offending Teams (YOT) I worked alongside the YOT workers.
I returned to Suffolk to work as a YOT manager of the Suffolk Sexually Appropriate Behaviour Service. During this time I became aware that there were many younger children who had not committed any offences, but were in need of help. For instance, there are many young people who get into trouble online because they do not know the law relating to posting images. I believe we need to offer services to children before their behaviour causes problems to others and the NSPPC provides such services to children from birth onwards. It uses research to inform the work that is undertaken and 90% of funding for projects comes from donations.
Tell me about your typical day.
A typical day starts with driving to Ipswich where I catch up with emails and paperwork and look at any new referrals for the projects that I manage. Then I might spend time with our fundraisers to explain how we work with young people who are referred to us, and what’s going well with our services. Afternoons are spent supervising staff and attending meetings with other agencies, including health and social care. I often meet with other professionals to explain the work the NSPCC can offer.
What is your view on social media?
Social media is a great resource. It allows us to share and exchange information with each other and, for those who are housebound or otherwise restricted socially, it creates a virtual community. But it can also be used by unscrupulous individuals – something we must always be mindful of. Parents need to ensure that their profiles and those of their children are set to private. We all need to have conversations with our children about staying safe online.
Do you set yourself ambitious goals?
Yes I do but they are constantly changing. I wanted to raise my children to be responsible adults and for them to give something back to society. Now I have grandchildren I want the world to be better for them. Childhood is such a precious time. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if all children were able to meet their full potential? We all have to work towards that in our own way.
What is your favourite word?
Serendipity; the art of the happy accident or finding out things without searching for them. Brilliant!
What is a perfect weekend for you?
A perfect weekend would be meeting up with my family and friends and a meal with interesting people. If warm enough it would include some time in my garden. I love eating outside whenever possible.
Social butterfly or wallflower?
Where would you most like to be in Suffolk right now?
In Aldeburgh, walking along the beach. I used to go there as a child with my parents and it remains one of my favourite places.
Three words to describe Suffolk?
Beautiful big skies.
City break or country retreat?
Both! I love the energy of big cities but quickly want to return to the countryside.
You get a buzz from?
The people I meet every day. I get a buzz from my work colleagues due to their dedication and professionalism. Also from people I meet on trains who give me a glimpse of an alternative existence and my family and friends who are different in myriad ways. Like Dr Who, homo sapiens are my favourite species.
Who would play you in a film of your life?
Audrey Tatou - she is wonderfully quirky.
What is your guilty pleasure?
Shoes! I have pairs in every colour from high heels to flats to sandals and boots. They can change an outfit from everyday to sensational in seconds.