This year during the pandemic has been a challenging one. Alison immediately diversified to the needs to the community at this time and secured funding to secure and delivers 100s of care packs to those most vulnerable or shielding in the community . She led her team of staff and volunteers to adapt to this new blend of online learning so that no-one was left behind, funding was secured for iPads, before we knew it all ages were zooming, whether it was for a check in just to see if they were ok or to continue with their GCSEs, Alison inspired and led her team. Our childcare was able to remain open to care for key workers staff. Naturally this type of work in this climate requires a leader who is willing to move with the times, be flexible but also knowledgeable about the current financial climate, funding opportunities and anything which permits us to stay one step ahead in the game. Alison constantly encourages her staff to reach their potential, encouraging them to participate in whatever training they need in order to stay on top of their game and provide maximum output to customers.

Alison has worked in Kilcooley Womens Centre for over 15 years staring out as a volunteer, working for the improvement of the lives of women and families in Ards and North Down.She works strategically with the other 13 women’s centres across Northern Ireland and lobbies for improved services, funding and resources for women, children and families in Ards North Down. She promotes European Mobility for everyone through the Erasmus Plus programme enabling socially disadvantaged communities’ avail of life changing opportunities through training abroad. She is the mother of two grown up sons. She was awarded Business Person of the Year 2018, by Bangor Chamber of Commerce, Bangor Business Awards. In May 2019 it was announced during the Queen’s Birthday Honours list that Alison would be receiving a BEM for 20 + years with Kilcooley Women’s Centre.
Alison Blayney is a complete all-rounder. Managing 26 staff and over 10 volunteers. She oversees the organisation providing education/training, heath, services for young people, childcare, Social Economy businesses and rural projects across the entire North Down & Ards Peninsula. Alison is also Lead Partner on a number of Erasmus Plus European Projects and has organised mentoring visits for many women who otherwise would never have experienced leaving Northern Ireland. Alison helped secure the prestigious Queens Award an MBE for volunteering in 2017. Alison goes above and beyond for everyone within the organisation providing an exceptionally high standard of management support to everyone making herself available when needed. She is an exemplar example of what a manager should be.‬

Alison has worked tirelessly within the women’s centre for many years, always seeking to improvise and grow within the local community. Since the beginning of lockdown however I’m honestly not sure she has really taken any time off. She recognised the need for ongoing and flexible community support and most importantly, ensuring the community knew the organisation was their to support them in any way possible. Alison has worked night and day trying to minimize the impact the pandemic has had on those in the community, especially the most vulnerable and I know so many have shared their gratitude regarding this.

Alison covers so much within her role and you can learn more about her and the work she does here: