The new director of Catholic Social Services describes herself as ‘a bit of a people person’.
Barbara Gilray comes to CSS after 14 years in Child, Youth and Family, most recently as a team leader in adoptions.
‘I really like people. Every day is different, every client you meet is different – that’s the joy of being in the social services sector,’ she says.
She has worked in a variety of roles in different cities. Starting in Palmerston North where she spent four and a half years, Barbara moved with her family to Wellington 10 years ago where she worked in Porirua and Lower Hutt before taking a position in Child, Youth and Family’s National Office.
Earlier, in Timaru, Barbara was involved with the Kirikirikatata Trust which ran access and maccess (Māori access) programmes to help unemployed people into training and then into work.
She realised that it wasn’t just young people who were unemployed. Older people were coming through the programme as well.
She saw a different side of life. There were a number of Māori students on placement which she found interesting in mainly pakeha Timaru.
Barbara sees Catholic Social Services as a community-based eclectic organisation serving the wider community, not just Catholic. She likes the fact that CSS works with other agencies in the community.
She brings to the work two post-graduate qualifications – in supervision and in social policy and social work – which she studied for while working full-time and running a household with three children.
She is grateful to the sisters at St Mary’s School in Gisborne for her education.
‘The nuns gave me a very good social conscience. They were good, strong women – good role models.’
Barbara Gilray takes up the position of director of Catholic Social Services on 3 July.