Black History Month

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Black History Month

Black History Month runs throughout October and this year’s theme is ‘Proud to Be…’. Traditionally Black History Month (BHM) is an annual celebration of the contribution that Black African and Caribbean communities have made both locally and across the world.  However, this year we are again using it as an opportunity to celebrate the contributions of all people of colour and coming together in unity against racism, prejudice and injustice.

As part of this, staff from across the organisation have shared blogs about their culture, their achievements, why Black History Month is important to them and who inspires them. You can read them below. More will be added throughout the month. 

Juliet, Crisis Team Practitioner shares her story

About you -your background

I was born in Freetown, the capital city of Sierra Leone. As a Black African being raised in England has had its ups and downs because of the colour of my skin. When I was in school, I never imagined I could have a successful career in healthcare. As a young woman, my mum always encouraged me towards nursing as she knew I liked helping people and it would be a career for life. However, my only knowledge of nursing was solely in physical health care, and it was not something I wanted to do. I’ve always been a bit of a dreamer, but without hard work, nothing would ever come from those dreams. I worked in different jobs in different fields, much of them involved helping people but none of them made me feel like it was meant to be. In hindsight, I think all of them have led me to my current role and path which is exactly where I'm supposed to be.

Your job role - what does a typical day look like for you?

I now work for City Crisis Resolutions Home Team (CRHT) as a band 6 nurse, a role I initially feared, mainly because I did not understand the role of a crisis team. I think for a lot of us who come into the CRHT with very little or no experience of community teams it can be intimidating.

A typical 12-hour shift for me is getting my planner of appointments. On this day I have two appointments in the morning and I’m office based in the afternoon. Around 09.00, we would have a morning team, this is a good time to address any issues beforehand. I’d complete morning visits; ensure I have lunch then return to the office. Next, I attend the Multidisciplinary team (MDT), receive handover of outstanding duties, and get ready to take calls. I’d take a variety of calls from patients, GPs, and other third parties to either refer patients into the service, for emotional support or booking joint visits. This period can become very stressful as the importance here is ensuring good documentation and taking that breather between calls to ground myself, if I don’t do that, it can lead to an increase in my own anxiety and stress and potentially the patient feeling they have not been heard. I recognise it takes a lot of strength for our patients to ring for help in the first place, so it's important for me to be as present as possible.

I then prepare and hand over any outstanding jobs to the night team, my day is complete.

Why Black history month is important to you?

Black history month is important to me because when I was younger, I wasn't taught much about it; I learned about slavery, and I learned about the civil rights movement in the 1960s but that was it. I'm in a better position to educate myself about Black history now. Black people have such a vast and rich history in the UK which has contributed to its growth, I always feel that there's so much that I can learn about it as every year I learn more and more. It surprises me how much impact Black history has on culture today; I never thought the African music I grew up listening to would go on to become so mainstream and popular. When it comes to the workplace Black history month is important to me because of all the incredible Black nurses that have come before me.

Who has inspired you?

My grandma is and always has been my biggest inspiration. She raised all five of her children, taught them skills that they could use throughout their lives whilst still maintaining a career as an accountant. I was taught the same things and values as my mum and uncles as I have gotten older, I recognise the importance of those life skills that I try to instil in my children. These values have given me the strength to speak up when I believed I observed racial microaggressions, I have raised this with my management team because I believe I have a duty to, if I experience racism within the workplace whether it's covert or overt. I am encouraged because of my Black friend who is also a band 6 nurse who always tells me, “we are not speaking up for ourselves, we do it for our children who will come after us and we want them to experience the changes we have paved.”

Black people in senior positions to my own inspire me as well because it was very surprising to me to see Black people in these roles. I met a Black band 6 nurse who was kind to me, she listened to me whittle on about wanting to develop and grow. Although I was afraid of what that meant, she would still give me good advice but then she suddenly left. Following this, I met a Black band 7 nurse, working with her and listening to her also inspired me. For the first time, I met someone senior to me who not only represented me but understood my lived experience as a Black woman working in this field. She would always encourage me to push forward when I felt lost, to believe in myself and that would be enough. This was so beneficial as it motivated me to go on and complete the Mary Seacole leadership course within our trust. I hoped that one day, I could be a leader that inspires others. Regrettably, I have also witnessed this same band 7 nurse with a lot of experience reach unnecessary limitations and hit the glass ceiling because of the intersections of her identity being Black and a woman in a leadership role, this has left me very disheartened. I now feel that I’d only be allowed to get so far in my career before I am also met with the same constraints of misogynoir - where racism and sexism meet.

Your aspirations

My aspirations are to get into leadership positions, I want to further develop the skills that I learned from the Mary Seacole leadership course, and I want to inspire other women of colour to break through barriers. My long-term goal was to become an operational manager but to be honest I'm not sure if this is possible. However, I am encouraged by the work and effort of colleagues within the trust and John Brewin to make my observations of the glass ceiling a thing of my past. Whilst I wait for my opportunity, I will continue to enjoy my current role that fits me and still allows me to be true to myself whilst still contributing to my team and supporting patients.

 

 

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