DAY IN THE LIFE: Helen Morris

Welcome to our new Day in the Life feature which gives an insight into the work we do here at Climb HQ, showcasing the different roles that the team performs, their aspirations, celebrations and the challenges that they face.

We’re kicking off the series by putting our Research and Information Officer Helen Morris in the spotlight!  Helen has recently celebrated 15 years with Climb, a fantastic achievement and of course there was cake involved!

 

Name:  The Name’s Bond, James Bond

Position:  Secret Service Agent for MI6….. No, really I’m Helen Morris; Climb’s Information Research Officer – I think I got the better end of the deal!

How long have you worked at Climb?  I’ve been here for 15 years, the oldest member of the team yet still the youngest too!

Helen Morris celebrating 15 years at Climb, with Operations Manager Paul Bussell
Helen Morris celebrating 15 years at Climb, with Operations Manager Paul Bussell

Tell us a little bit about your role and what you do on a day to day basis

My role is very changeable. I need to adapt every day to whatever shows up. Generally, I deal with the information side of things and working alongside professionals. However, I do support families too with the more technical questions that require a little more research to answer and can help with translations too. I am also involved in the planning of Climb meetings and conferences and I have been busy recently working on the website and currently edit the Climb Update too, which I really enjoy!

What keeps you motivated to come to work each day?

Well there’s a story to this… and I have to be brutally honest. 15 years ago I was a bad tempered, lazy teenager whose main preference was hanging out with my friends down the pub. It was only really due to my Mum and Dad wanting nagging me to get a job that I reluctantly applied for this job, adamant that under no circumstances was I getting a paper round – No Way – Nah Ah! I wasn’t interested at the interview, but Steve, our Executive Director at the time, I was later told saw me as a challenge. A little surprised (and annoyed!) at getting the job, I began an apprenticeship here and did an NVQ in Business Administration. I was dropped in the deep end with a place in the crèche with the children with metabolic diseases, some of them really poorly, it was an eye-opener. I’d never really seen a child that poorly before and I started to understand. A few months down the line, a friend showed up on our doorstep with her son who had a devastating condition. I saw the bravery and sheer guts that that boy and his Mum had and I followed them through their journey. The day they turned up here, that’s when it hit home and I really got it. From then, I made a promise to myself that I’d do everything I could to support families in the same position, and that is what motivates me.  15 years on, I’ve grown up a fair bit (not that my colleagues agree!) and we’re supporting more families than ever. It’s very rewarding and our families are lovely.

What do you like best about your job?

I don’t think there’s a favourite part? I think there’s meant to be something that stands out…. I can feel my colleagues opposite me winking and giving me the old suggestion that I should name them as the best thing here hahaha!! It’s everything really to be honest! OK, I love the team here. We have a great time and we love each-other very much; there’s a lot of love here! However, it’s not just that. I love the fact that I can turn up and I don’t really know what is going to be my main priority, I don’t know what families are going to ask of me, and in the process of researching the answers for them I learn an awful lot and I enjoy that too. I love the creativity of the website and the Update. Like I said before to follow families on their journeys is just fantastic and I absolutely adore catching up to see what news they have and if there’s even the smallest thing I can do to help them, then it’s massively rewarding. Sitting opposite Julie whilst she managed the London Marathon, I learnt so much about the runners, their reasons for running for us and the hard work they put in. I can’t put into words how inspiring they were and seeing what Climb means to them. Everyone who is involved with Climb in any way, I see them as part of our team. And I love that too!

Helen and Husband Steve
Helen and Husband Steve

What are the main challenges you face and how do you tackle them?

My main challenge, and I see it often, is families with no information when they get a diagnosis. I often get families coming to me with zero understanding of the condition, not knowing the future and just having that one piece of paper with our Freephone number or my email address on which they’ve found on Google…. and that’s it; their reality.

And that there is our challenge. It shouldn’t be a reality for them, all over the world there should be more awareness of these conditions and they seem to get lost from the spotlight of other more well-known conditions that hit the headlines. To tackle this, for the family in need, it’s me working with the team here, ensuring they have family friendly information, listening to them, learning about their needs, and reassuring them, encouraging them to stay in touch and to stay with them on their journey for as long as they want me and the team there. For the awareness it’s shouting as much as we can, coming up with ideas and promoting as much as we can too. I’m always trying my best to tell everyone I can about metabolic diseases.

Do you have any funny stories from work?

There’s always funny stories, from Lindsay (our Executive Director) starting her new role here by giving herself concussion with a golf ball, to having a team effort of testing how robust the Climb shop’s unbreakable mugs actually were. Recruiting Julie (our Development and Engagement Co-ordinator) who spent much of her interview holding up BASH, BANG, ZAP and KAPOW signs which I just found totally phenomenal and to be honest I was like a kid in a sweet shop, totally besotted. She’s never changed and she’s brilliant! The mortified look on Julie and Lindsay’s face when it was revealed that matching underwear is not part of every team member’s ritual and that Batman pants are actually acceptable. I had a lot of whirlwind adventures too with Pam (our former Family Services Manager) and getting lost in all sorts of directions!!

What is your proudest achievement at Climb?

There’s a lot; finishing that NVQ and knowing I had a place here was the first, obviously! Winning a night in a lush London hotel as a prize for my MCADD case study poster to raise awareness at professional conferences. The bed and TV were bigger than my living room I’m sure, and there was a pillow menu, an actual menu for pillows!…. I know, right?! Also, more recently was bringing together the Urea Cycle Disorder Day with the team, it was a massive thing for us and something that was a landmark in getting families to be more involved and sharing their views. It was a phenomenal success!

 

Helen's Alice in Wonderland themed wedding
Helen’s Alice in Wonderland themed wedding

What do you like to do outside of work?

I’m married, with three step-kids. Yes, I am the evil stepmother from the fairy tales! I also have my dog, Millie who is a whirlwind. My husband is fantastic, we’ve been married for almost 2 years and we make a great team.

We spend our time exploring new places, getting out and about. There’s nothing we love more than nature and going camping with a tent and a sleeping bag, often giving up increasing floor space to the dog. I love the stars and am always keen to get out to dark skies so I can see the milky way and at certain times of year the shooting stars too. I’m quite creative. I like drawing and doing bits of artwork here and there and enjoy photography too. When we got married we had an Alice in Wonderland wedding and made all the decorations, bouquets, everything ourselves. I am in love with Marvel. Especially Thor and Iron Man and am easily pleased with any Marvel film. In case you’ve not already guessed I am a big child so I am often found being told off by the kid’s grandad for sliding down the stairs on my bum. Some things never grow old.

 

And finally, a few quick fire questions – just for fun!

The last film you watched?  The Pink Panther with Steve Martin as Jacques Clouseau

Favourite song?  *pulls hair out* Oh can’t decide! Queen’s, Don’t Stop Me now and anything by Oasis and the Stone Roses. It’s rare I like much after Brit Pop. Except Coldplay and George Ezra.

Who would play you in a film about your life?  Easy. Renee Zellweger. – Me and Bridget, yep we were separated at birth!

Coffee or Tea?  Coffee. I’m totally unapproachable beforehand.

 

Thank you Helen, we’ve enjoyed getting to know you better!