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Patrick Cromie

Please give an outline of your career to date.

I have been a full-time employee with the Simon Community since 2013. I spent my first three years in Saintfield Road, and then moved to Downpatrick as it is much closer to home. I have also worked with the NHS, working in the mental health units in both Lagan Valley and the Downe Hospital.

What led you to your role with Simon Community?

I travelled when I was younger and lived in the US for a few years. While in the US, I noticed a huge homelessness crisis in the inner-city areas and when I returned home, I realised that homelessness was also growing in Northern Ireland. I was interested in getting involved, to try to make a difference.

What does a typical day entail, and how has this changed as a result of Covid-19?

A typical day can be very busy at times with handovers and meetings with clients.

Covid has had a big impact and the team now operate a rigorous Covid-19 cleaning schedule to keep the hostel virus free with a visitor policy introduced for the safety of clients and staff.

What are the best and most challenging aspects of your role?

When most clients arrive at the project, they are at their lowest ebb. Watching as they continually face challenges such as overcoming addiction can be difficult. Yet, working alongside external agencies, my role allows me to help individuals gain the confidence and coping skills needed to manage addiction and live independently, which is the best part of my role.

How do you relax outside of work?

I am a member of a local Downpatrick Men’s Club, who are proactive in the local Community. We have an allotment with eight beehives, I’m a qualified beekeeper trained by the Irish Bee Association. We also have men’s yoga and a fitness class, all on different nights, so I have no excuses to not get out and be active. I also help with a local under 17 football team.

Why is what you do important?

I think Simon Community is vital. We are usually the first port of call for people that have hit rock bottom.

What has been your proudest moment, so far, at Simon Community?

A proud moment for me was seeing a client, who arrived at the hostel in a poor position, leave with more confidence, hope, quality housing and good job prospects.

What advice would you give to people considering a similar career path?

Working with Simon Community can be very rewarding. People can be academically smart, but I found being ‘life smart’ to be just as important, when working with people who are homeless and suffering with poor mental health.

Working in what can sometimes be a difficult situation, I’ve also learnt a lot about my strengths and weakness. My role has allowed me to grow a lot, and it’s definitely a worthwhile career.

Interested in a career with Simon Community NI? Click here to view our current opportunities and to apply.