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It's Always About The People

It's Always About The People

With a warm smile, Berni Brown (CrossReach IT Manager*) enters the room and takes a seat.  She has been invited to share something of her life journey and in particular, her 19+ years journey with CrossReach.


“It’s the sense of caring and the sense of family;” she begins, “people genuinely care about their clients and they genuinely care about each other.”

On a sunny day in the late 1960’s, Mary and Tom welcomed the arrival of Berni (their second child) into what would become a family of eight (6 girls and 2 boys).  Home was in Downpatrick, County Down.

From the start, Berni recalls her parents' strong focus on the value and importance of people.  “It didn’t matter what a person’s background was or what their social position, belief or ethnicity happened to be, my mum and dad brought us up with the understanding that (as they say in Scotland) we’re all Jock Tamson’s bairns!”

Shielded from ‘The Troubles’ and part of an inclusive environment, Berni talks about enjoying a strong sense of security and belonging as she grew up.  Milking her pet goat (Jumper) and taking part in what would be described as ‘tomboy’ activities with her dad, she loved life and all the people that formed her world.

Unusually for a girl at that time, she opted to study computing at college.  “I just love computers.” she beams, “When mum gave me my first one, a Sinclair ZX81, I liked the fact I could get a machine to do something for me.”

And so marked the beginnings of the career path Berni would follow.

Marrying a handsome Scottish soldier, she travelled extensively and when in Hong Kong, she quickly secured a position with Access Asia within the Professional Access team.  There she honed and developed her computing skills, “I’m a keen learner,” she notes.

Eventually, she, her husband (Robert) and their first daughter arrived back in Scotland and settled in East Lothian.  Having taken a position within the NHS for a brief spell, she applied for a job as an IT Trainer within CrossReach (then known as ‘The Church of Scotland Board of Social Responsibility’). Securing the position, she became part of what she describes as ‘an amazing family’.

Shortly after this Robert and she were delighted to welcome their second daughter into the world, completing their own family. From the outset, Berni was determined that both her girls would be brought up with similar values to those of her own childhood: to include and accept people for who and what they are.

With a continued desire to develop her IT expertise, a few years later Berni undertook further training through the Open University.

Having held various roles within CrossReach’s IT team, Berni was keen to bring as much as she could to the support she offers the services and various teams throughout the organisation, “My job is to support the staff so they can support the people who have chosen CrossReach as a service provider.”

Enthusing about what she refers to as “The CrossReach Family”, she shares,

“The people [in the services] think of me unconditionally.  It’s never about the technical issues, important as they are; it’s about how the members of my team are when faced with a challenge.  Skills can be learned but the warmth I encounter on a daily basis can’t be taught.”

The informal interview comes to a natural conclusion and Berni walks towards the door.  Before exiting, she turns around and smiles,

“It’s always about the people.”


*CrossReach IT Solutions Coordinator


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