Mental Health Awareness Week – Welfare Support

Hear from Lisa, a Welfare Support Officer, about how she helps to support colleagues across the NICS.

Hello everyone,

My name is Lisa and I’ve been a Welfare Officer for 7 years. The Welfare Support Service is a part of NICSHR and provides civil servants with emotional and practical advice and support on both work and domestic issues.

Last year we dealt with over 7,200 referrals, over half of which were stress or mental health related. A wide range of factors can contribute to colleagues experiencing stress such as work related issues and coping with caring responsibilities. The Welfare Support Service works in partnership with a large number of support organisations and regularly signposts colleagues to the most relevant ones.

Anyone can self-refer to our Service, and line managers can refer a member of staff they are concerned about. Normally I meet with people on a face to face basis, either in our offices in Bruce Street or in one of our satellite offices in locations across Northern Ireland, or I can speak on the phone, if preferred. With the outbreak of the coronavirus, however, we are currently offering a telephone service.

What does being a Welfare Officer involve?

As a Welfare Officer I work closely with Employee Relations, supporting colleagues who are on sickness absence. For many civil servants, this is the first time they will have encountered the Welfare Support Service.  It’s my job to support colleagues, who are on a period of sickness absence, helping to navigate them through the sickness absence policies and procedures and how these relate to them. 

In many ways I consider it a privilege to be allowed into people lives and to support colleagues or their families during difficult times. This can involve some very sensitive or tragic circumstances including working with colleagues who have chronic health conditions; those with exceptional caring responsibilities; or working with a bereaved family, guiding and supporting them as best we can and helping to ensure they receive any support, guidance, money or pension as quickly and smoothly as possible. 

I love my job as a Welfare Officer. I meet interesting people every day and feel I add real value, helping people who are struggling with the difficult issues they have to face. 

Further information

You can find more information about the Welfare Support Service and what we offer here.

If you feel you, or a member of your staff, could benefit from speaking with a Welfare Officer. Please contact us on 02890 251771 (51771) or e-mail us at

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