Lisa Duffy, Accounts Assistant with CHI talks about the importance of community at home and in the workplace
"I give a lot of my time to the community centre and majorettes. My heart is with the majorettes. I’m in the community centre tonight until 10 pm with them. My sister, Caroline, has been doing it since she was about three or four. She used to bring me with her, she kind of reared me, she’d bring me with her everywhere she’d go I’d follow behind. It’s her majorettes, Diamond Twirlers we’re called, we’ve got 88 children from two years onwards. Some of the kids come from Westcourt, James Street flats, the kids come from all around there, they’re really inner-city kids. There’s a mixture of kids from poverty, and then those who just get by. So, we do a lot of fundraising we went to Trabolgan on the weekend, we fundraised a lot for that. The team that went to Trabolgan danced to ‘I’m a Barbie Girl’ in the competition.
It’s an outlet for them, the doors of the community centre are always open, they’ll be open until 10 tonight. There are kids sitting there with nowhere to go, they may have a home, but it’s not a safe place. I think a reason that the doors are open is because Caroline and I came from a disadvantaged area. We grew up in the flats in town. Then we moved to Dolphin House. It was always flats for me. So, when I bought my first house in Portlaoise in 2018, it was a shock to the system! It was fields and cows! I loved the house, but I moved back to Dublin to be close to my sister. It was just husband and I down there, we were trying for Jack, our son, at the time. The stress of being away from everyone we knew got to us.
Growing up in the flats, we wouldn’t have heard of Co-operative housing, but there was a co-operative spirit there. There was always a key in the door. Mrs Mahon, my friend’s mam, had a panel missing on her front door, so everyone knew you could open the door from the outside and go on in and have a chat and a cup of tea, have company.
I had never heard of CHI or Approved Housing Bodies before working here, I always thought it was just Dublin City Council that provided affordable housing. I got the job description, and I knew I wanted to work here. I was working at a printing company, that’s where I met my husband. I knew it wasn’t for me, I wanted more. So, I applied for the job of Clerical Officer in Inchicore and got it. When I got the job there was an old-school housing officer at the time John O’Connor, what a legend he was! The old housing officers and Members will remember John! He was the first person I met when I started, he met me in the car park and gave me a big hug. I said to him ‘I’m so nervous.’ And he said, ‘Come on we’ll go get a bit of tea and toast, you’ll be grand!’ I was expecting to meet a six-foot man in a suit, but I met a short, warm character. The minute I answered the first phone call coming in from a Member, although it was someone looking to complain, I knew she needed an ear, someone to vent to. I was there with Tom, John and Barbara, in 2014. Barbara was the housing officer, we now work in the Finance team. I learned a lot from Barbara, she’s very knowledgeable when it comes to housing.
After a while I saw the role of Accounts Assistant, applied and got it. I am happy where I am now. I love the role and the team around me. I know everyone says this, it’s so clichéd, but it’s the people that make the job. I have Janet as a boss. She can be a boss if she has to be, but I do my job, so she never really has to be firm with people. She’s a good person and she’s approachable which so important. You can tell her if you’re not having a good day, you can ask for help if you don’t know how to do something. Having her there is probably the best part of the role for me, that’s being honest. ‘Even if something goes wrong, there’s nothing that can’t be fixed’, she always says.
The bulk of my job is accounts payable, working strongly with our data systems and the clerical officers, which are now split between AMPS and CST. My main thing is paying the contractors who do repairs, maintenance and cyclical works, there’s a large volume every month at the end of the month. The invoices could be anything from twenty quid to one million, so it’s a lot of responsibility. I manage the employee credit cards and expenses. We link in with the accountant all the time for account reconciliation.
I never thought I’d have the confidence to work in finance. I think when you come from a background like I came from, where we had nothing, except our neighbours, community and each other. I think when you grow up with so little it does have a knock-on effect on your own self-belief sometimes. I love the pressure of the role, you’re always going. It’s like being on a hamster wheel. The pressure drives you. I have a list and every time I tick something off, I feel so satisfied. I love the hamster wheel, as sad as it sounds! When I was sorting out the majorettes trip to Trabolgan, I was doing the finance, I had four spreadsheets that linked into one and there was so much information. I love spreadsheets! They make me happy. They call me spreadsheet Duffy.
I have a spreadsheet for majorettes next year, and I have one for football, my husband is the chairman of the team my son plays on. So, I help him make sure all the payments are recorded. Monday is my only night off from majorettes and football. I like it though. I’m better off being busy. A few years ago, I went through a spell where I was very depressed. It was church, majorettes, football, getting active, going for walks with the dog; it was getting up and breaking the stigma, realising what was wrong that helped. I can guarantee you, there are some many people who are going through the same thing, it’s important to be open about mental health. Helping with the kids in the majorettes is very rewarding, it’s good for the soul and the heart. I have a lot more than others, I have a lot to be grateful for."
Below is the link to a Halloween fundraising event coming up to bring the under 10’s Inchicore Athletic football team to Blackpool this coming March, if you'd like to attend.