Over the last two decades, Northern Ireland Co-operation Overseas (NI-CO) has exported the skills and expertise of our local health and social care practitioners to support pro-poor health and social care service provision in countries across the developing world. From the remote islands of St Helena and Tristan da Cunha in the South Atlantic to isolated communities in India and Ethiopia, NI-CO has been delivering programmes in a diverse range of areas from primary and secondary healthcare to child protection.
NI-CO believes that the Health and Social Care sector in Northern Ireland has an enviable reservoir of expertise which can and should be celebrated on an international forum. In a market where there is a continuing dynamic between reducing immediate vulnerability; achieving specific health outcomes; establishing an equitable health system and building institutional capacity, it is important to recognise that health managers and public servants have as valuable a contribution to play in the delivery of NI-CO’s projects as the medical practitioners.
Across the globe, NI-CO is contracting health economists, human resource specialists and accountants to reduce hospital waiting lists, tackle bed shortages and improve access to basic health and social care services. Our diverse project portfolio offers endless opportunities for recently retired public servants to get involved in this exciting and highly rewarding work.
Former Chief Social Services Officer for the DHSSPS, Paul Martin CBE, is one of many who decided to embrace the challenge of working overseas with NI-CO.
“Facing retirement after 38 years was a daunting prospect bringing a mix of emotions from excitement at the prospect of finally leaving the ‘rat race’, to deep regret at leaving work colleagues and facing the unknown. The opportunity to work with NI-CO, however, gave a whole new meaning to life after retirement affording me opportunities I could only have imagined.
“My first NI-CO post took me to Bulgaria, where I was employed for two years as EU Advisor to the Ministry of Social Welfare. Working closely with social workers and inspectors who were working on the front line, dealing with over 13,000 abused and abandoned children, the project was one of the most challenging but rewarding tasks I have undertaken in my professional career and it gave me an appetite for more.
“In 2010, I accepted the post of Social Policy Adviser to NI-CO which for the following three years allowed me to travel extensively throughout the Western Balkans, Ukraine, Georgia, Azerbaijan and Iceland. While I was exposed to the harsh realities of some of Europe’s most economically deprived countries, I met with some amazing people whose passion and hunger to learn and realise change was contagious.
“Five years on from my first posting with NI-CO, retirement seems farther away than ever. I am now living in Amman, Jordan, where for the next 18 months I will be working with the Ministry of Social Development. It is a privilege to now be in a position where I and my colleagues from Northern Ireland Civil Service can share our learning to make a real and valuable contribution to improving the lives of vulnerable families. There really is life after retirement from NICS, a life full of new challenges, new opportunities and rewarding experiences.”
If you would like to join Paul Martin and the hundreds of other NICS staff to become part of NI-CO’s Success Story please contact Melanie Maxwell, NI-CO Marketing Director: email@example.com for further information.