By Community Reporter Johnny Dadds
After ten years of laughter and passionate service – Knowle West Health Park Company’s Chief Executive is moving on to pastures new.
Vicki Morris (47) has been overseeing the direction of the company since August 2006, but is departing in June to become the new Chief Executive of The Care Forum, based in Fishponds.
The sight of Vicki on her bicycle has become a regular feature around the area – and she says though looking forward to her new role, she will be “very sad” to leave the Health Park and will miss the “Knowle West spirit” the most.
“I love Knowle West. When I came I didn’t know what to expect. I told people I was coming to work here and they made all these sweeping stereotypical jibes about the area – but actually I’ve loved every minute of it,” she says.
“There are some really good people who live and work in Knowle West and all of my highlights would be about my interactions with them.”
She remembers her AGM speeches in particular: “There’s been quite a lot of heckling. I love Hereford Football Club – we’re going to Wembley on 22 May. The constant ability to go on about it and get groans of derision would be an ongoing highlight.”
Though she insists she “doesn’t do anything important like delivering services,” Vicki has been working hard over the years to ensure funding and has engaged with the public to make sure the space is an enjoyable one for all. She has also helped to form the Health Park’s strategic vision, being part of a team that has successfully made progress on mental health, diabetes and cancer as well as heart disease and dementia.
She says: ““That makes me terribly proud. It’s very much a team effort. We’re a healthy, happy team; we get on pretty well and we always surpass our objectives.”
Though she has seen some improvements in the health of local people – Vicki says she has concerns about the future of health care services in the area.
She explains: “Welfare reforms and austerity measures are making life harder again for people in Knowle West… They’re cutting our GP services, particularly Merrywood and yet its performance data is outstanding. It’s just not fair because they’re cutting things the people of Knowle West rely on and that’s not right.”
Vicki says with the help of Health Park staff and local people she has learned a lot about herself too and has gained a greater appreciation of the meaning of ‘wellbeing’.
Perhaps it’s the laughter that for Vicki epitomises the Knowle West spirit that she’ll miss.
“I’m certain I’ve never had a job where I’ve laughed as much as I have at Knowle West Health Park; with my colleagues, with local people, with people in other organisations – it’s felt like a very happy place to be and it’s hard to leave that behind…”