Date of release: 27 October 2020
Black History Month provides another opportunity for reflection; to acknowledge the challenges, celebrate successes and opportunities, the barriers, hurt and discrimination that still exists in our society.
In this blog I want to share some of my thoughts on the journeys of nurses who have taken on the challenge of moving from their home country to help patients in a foreign land.
My thoughts move to the amazing Mary Seacole and her work. She moved from Jamaica to Central America and then famously to the Crimea to support the soldiers recovering from war injuries.
My thoughts also take me to the nurses who travelled from the Caribbean on the Empire Windrush ship during the start of the NHS.
Moving to a country where one is a minority is not easy. These nurses experienced both kindness and racism in their journey to help others in the UK.
And this leads me to consider the value I place on working with colleagues who bring different experiences and expectations to the workplace.
Living and working in Malawi, New Zealand and Qatar has enriched my life in many ways.
Professionally, I have experienced the positive impact on patients that a diverse workforce brings.
Personally, the opportunities of living in very different and culturally diverse countries has enhanced the value I place on diversity.
And then my thoughts move to the many new nurses joining the RWT Team from abroad, many from Nigeria and the Philippines.
Their journey and their experience of being in an environment that is different from their homeland, applying the nursing skills learned into a different health system and just feeling different, new and anxious are all worth thinking about.
I know that the experiences of nurses who have chosen to come to this country, often answering our call for their skill, knowledge and compassion, may not have always have had the welcome we would have hoped for.
Our international colleagues, joining us through the new Clinical Nurse Fellowship Programme, experience the importance and emphasis we are placing on support, pastoral care and creating a sense of belonging to the RWT Team.
This has been particularly highlighted for us as we had a cohort of international nurses who joined us right at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic – what must have been going through their minds as our ‘normal’ was turned upside down, never mind their expectations of being in the UK.
I encourage everyone to join in this effort and think about what you can do more of to understand and support colleagues who may be different from you; to challenge poor behaviours, stereotypes and assumptions about others, to encourage and celebrate the diversity we have within the Trust and show our commitment to making RWT a fair, safe and respectful place to work and be cared for.