I always knew growing up that I didn’t want to work in the corporate world. My father worked in crop research for the British government and in Nigeria and Jamaica. My brother and sister have also always worked in the public sector, so I guess a sense of wanting to do something which would make a difference to the community was instilled in me from a very young age. I also had a strong belief in the impact of women’s education and empowerment on society as a whole. I moved to Dundee in 1986 to study and after completing my degree I worked in higher education and charity retailing.
Unfortunately I became ill with depression and anxiety in 2005 and couldn’t work for about 18 months. I was encouraged to do volunteering to get some structure back into my life and I was due to go to Cats Protection where I could hide away from people and just play with the cats, but my own cat died the day before I was supposed to start and I ended up at Dundee International Women’s Centre instead! Volunteering as a receptionist gave me the opportunity to regain confidence and feel that I was useful again. DIWC and the Community Mental Health Team were so helpful that I was able to get supported work at the Centre. When the post of Receptionist became vacant, I applied for it and that was the start of my long and varied career at DIWC.
Working at Dundee International Women’s Centre is so uplifting. During my time here I have worked in administration, training and supporting learners and now I evaluate the work that we do and the impact it has on the lives of women (and try to make sure that we have enough money to pay for it!). The people here are my friends and family. As a naturally inquisitive person, I love hearing about all different cultures, inspiring stories and the women’s journeys. I am always reminded of how lucky I have been to have the opportunities and freedom given to me.
I will always be grateful to DIWC, and hope to work here as long as I can make a valuable contribution. By the way – I share my house with another cat now, Merlin!
Susan A’ Brook