Meet the LOCSU team… Jacque Fooks
20 August 2019
Jacque Fooks’ first day at LOCSU was nearly a washout, but eight and half years on she has come to be a central part of the team providing advice and support to LOCs…
When you call the LOCSU office for support, it’s likely that the first person you speak to will be Jacque Fooks, the Office Manager. That humble title belies a varied role that’s an important part of LOCSU, as Jacque brings her now considerable experience to bear in answering queries, solving problems and generally keeping the LOCSU office running smoothly. But what happened on that very first day?
It’s etched into my mind,” says Jacque. “I was dreading the commute into London and on my first day I got caught in a torrential downpour. When I arrived at LOCSU the receptionist felt so sorry for me she offered me a set of dry clothes to change into. It wasn’t the best start!”
Jacque joined LOCSU in 2011 and initially felt out of her comfort zone. “I had been made redundant from my former role at Essex PCT, where I managed GP training. LOCSU wanted someone with PCT experience, which I had, but optometry was a new area for me and I stepped straight into a very busy period where everyone was dashing around organising regional workshops. I really felt I was in at the deep end and it took a while to get the hang of things.”
In 2011 LOCSU was a different organisation to the one it is today. “There were fewer of us,” says Jacque, “and we were really focused on getting LOCSU up and running. These days we have moved forward a lot and can concentrate on really delivering support where it’s needed.”
Day-to-day Jacque is the main administrative hub of the team. She handles incoming enquiries from LOCs and either provides the answers herself or directs them to the right member of the team to respond. It’s a part of the role that she particularly enjoys. “Some of the queries can be quite involved and it’s all about knowing who the best person is to answer them, and then getting that information back out to the LOCs. It’s the element of customer service that is so important to what we do here.”
Jacque also provides PA support to the team, including meeting and travel booking, and makes sure that the office runs smoothly. Over the years she has taken on other roles, as the situation has required. “We’ve had different staff involved over the years,” she notes, “so sometimes I’ve been involved in communications, or data management, just depending on what’s needed. I think it’s important, working in a small team, to be able to help someone else out in their role if necessary, so I’m quite hands-on and flexible about what I take on!”
Being hands-on comes in useful for Jacque at home, too, where a lot of her time is currently occupied by her two nine month-old Maine Coon kittens. Weighing in at five kilogrammes each already, Tiger and Teddy will continue to grow until they are five years old. “They are very cheeky and intelligent,” laughs Jacque. “They love water so if we aren’t careful, they get into their water bowls and then leave wet pawprints all around the house. Tiger is also working out how to open the back door using the handle, so we have to keep a close eye on him!”
Jacque is a life-long animal lover. “I would have loved to work full time with animals and maybe I will still get the chance one day,” she says. The person she’d most like to meet is anthropologist Jane Goodall. “It would be an honour to meet someone who has been so dedicated and lifechanging for both animals and people. I’d love to know what drove her to keep going in adversity when working in dangerous places. How did she go about negotiating that balance between animals and people? She managed to improve people’s lives and give them a positive reason to protect animals – that’s what I find inspirational.”
When she gets the chance to relax, Jacque enjoys a wide spectrum of films and Netflix series. The reimagined BattleStar Galactica is a particular favourite, but really “I enjoy anything with a good story and interesting characters!”
Finding out about the interests and hobbies of the rest of the LOCSU team is also something Jacque appreciates. “We have a nice core group of people in the office and it’s great to chat and learn about all their interests.”
Clearly, alongside her fondness for animals, Jacque is a real “people person” and exactly the right person to be the first point of contact with LOC members.