We meet Helen Algar who tells us about her work as Community Development Manager at Waitaki District Council.

Tell us about your role at Waitaki District Council?

I am the Community Development Manager for Waitaki District Council, a role I value highly. I have responsibility for community development activities and, with my team, facilitate and coordinate Safer Waitaki, a whole-of-community project with a focus on community well-being. It is essentially the mechanism we use to deliver community development in a co-design framework with the Waitaki community. We are very fortunate to have a high level of participation with over 160 groups and organisations involved in the project. This gives us good community input and is a great way to identify and respond to gaps and opportunities.

What does a typical day look like?

Daily tasks always include correspondence, stakeholder engagement, (open door policy) staff management and financial and reporting tasks. I usually have a plan for my day, but it is unusual for me to stick to the plan as there are always elements in the day that pop up and divert my priorities away from what I may have planned to do. I don’t mind that though. No two days are the same. The unpredictability and diversity of the role is what I love most about it.

What is the most challenging part of your role?

One of the most challenging and interesting aspects of my role is the alignment of the diverse stakeholder groups and, at times, competing expectations to achieve outcomes. It is a dynamic and complex role which has become more challenging post COVID. However, the challenges of the role also bring immense reward. It is very satisfying when the components come together and being part of the Council team is a great way to get a broad knowledge and expertise that can support community development activities in a way that is tangible.

What’s the best part of working in local government?

Working in local government is very satisfying. The wider Council team is diverse and within the organisation there are multiple layers and skills which means there is always support and great opportunities to learn new things. Working in a community-facing role that straddles Council and community is the best of all as it provides a meaningful platform for making a difference, which is why I am here.

Why did you join Taituarā and what do you hope to get out of it?

I joined Taituarā so that I could take advantage of participating in conferences and webinars, learn more about local government and best-practice in other councils. There are so many benefits I could highlight, but for me it comes down to the sense of belonging to a wider team, networking, sharing, and learning. There is always an answer to my questions within the Taituarā team.