Not everyone can say they feel as rewarded by their job as Rachel Walker does.
Always passionately interested in the subject of adoption, she’s the ideal person to work in fundraising and marketing for Adoption Matters North West, a children’s charity that finds stable and loving homes for children living in care and supports adoptive parents as they welcome a new child into the family.
Rachel’s interest in helping vulnerable young people started when she worked for Cheshire West and Chester’s Children and Young People’s Team where she was recruited to help with document management.
“Sometimes I think life puts you in the right place at the right time, and this was the start of a new direction on my life which saw a focus on working in social services and for charities who aim to help the less advantaged in our society,” she says,
“From dealing with paperwork, I eventually started working in the Access Team, taking referrals for children and young people who might be at risk.
“I helped a great team of social workers who worked incredibly hard to ensure that families were given all the help possible to address some very challenging situations,” adds Rachel, who is married to Max and mum to Blythe, 14, and ZuZu, 12.
It stood her in excellent stead for the job she does now, and opened her eyes to the damage that can be done when children are badly cared for or left in care too long.
“Many children have had a difficult start to life, suffering the lasting effects of abuse, neglect, domestic violence and substance use, and it has not been safe for them to remain with their birth families.
“With 4,000 children across the UK still waiting for families, the charity is constantly striving to recruit potential new adopters, increase awareness of the issues around adoption and of course raise funds!
“I am so passionate about adoption, so passionate that I will talk for ages on the subject given half the chance.
“Adoption can radically alter a child’s life chances and the impact on society in a wider sense is remarkable,” she explains.
“Although social workers do try very hard to keep families together there are some times when this is simply not safe or possible.
“I’ve read case histories that would bring anyone to tears, some of the children placed have seen more tragedy in three or four years than most of us do in a lifetime.”
“The best part of my job is knowing that for every time I talk to someone about adoption, or every pound donated, a child’s life can be turned around, and a parent’s life too.”
But there have been some demanding experiences along the way to help Rachel get to where she is today, including surviving a violent relationship, miscarriage, betrayal and more.
“If I can help just one person by sharing my experiences with others that makes my life worthwhile,” Rachel said.
And there has also been a different type of role for Rachel recently – as her mum, Cllr Jill Houlbrook’s lady Mayoress.
“I’m incredibly proud of my mum, and really honoured that she chose me.
“It’s such a fantastic opportunity to meet so many wonderful people all working hard in our city.
“I believe Chester has so much to offer, and we are trying hard to make a difference this year with a variety of creative events.”