I first met Helen in the autumn of 2008; we were both new to our roles as Outreach Workers and to the borough of Lambeth. Helen was based at Rosendale Children’s Centre and I was based a short distance away at Jessop Children’s Centre. Helen, along with Tasha, came to Jessop to have a look around the centre and introduce themselves.
A little while later, Lambeth organised Outreach Induction sessions, the Outreach posts were new and many of us had been recruited to these posts at a similar time. The sessions took place at Liz Atkinson Children’s Centre (a centre which over the years we both had the pleasure of managing). It is always awkward attending a meeting when you don’t really know anyone, so when we stopped for a break I decided to go for a little walk. Helen was sitting in Milo (her treasured Purple Vauxhall Corsa) which was parked just up the road from the centre, she wound down the window and invited me to sit with her. We bonded over the fact we both thought the session was a little boring and was definitely not what we were expecting, we were both very excited to be in a new role we could stamp our mark on – from that conversation, a beautiful friendship was born!
From then on in, we would met regularly after work for a coffee in Starbucks or a glass of wine (or two!) in the pub, we would spend hours talking about work and putting the world of Lambeth to rights! We would plan how it would all work if we were in more senior positions. I always knew Helen would excel, due to her sheer drive and deep-rooted passion for helping families in need – and she definitely did this! She progressed to different roles, never passing up an opportunity to take on more responsibility and have a greater impact.
Fast forward to the end of 2019 and yet another Children’s Centre restructure, there had been a few! I was being interviewed for a Better Start Area Manager role and Helen, for the Parenting Lead. Both required us to give presentations as part of the interviews. We worked hard putting together our indivdual PowerPoint presentations and then shared with each other for advice and proof reading. Helen was always much better than me with words and was the queen of proof reading, due to her meticulous attention to detail! I would often send emails for Helen to read before I sent them, and she would regularly tell me off for being to blunt! so would reword them for me in a much more diplomatic way. We both aced our presentations and interviews and were offered the positions that we had applied for. Of course, we then celebrated with wine at your home in Green Lane, while Charlie and Noah were fast asleep upstairs; Eliza was yet to be born at this point.
Helen truly was an amazing woman and I have so many wonderful memories. She had a smile that was infectious and if you were having a bad day, she had a way of making you realise things were never as bad as you first thought. I will miss her dearly, both as a colleague and a very close friend. One thing I know for sure is she has definitely left her mark on Lambeth and has left a great legacy.
Love Clare xxx