In the autumn of 1980, my twin brother and I landed in Heathrow airport, a million miles away from Grenada, the tiny island in the Eastern Caribbean known as the Isle of Spice. The move from this tiny island with an average annual temperature of around 30 degrees, to the wintry conditions of the UK, was, to say the least, a shock to my young body! And four decades later, Long Johns and thermals are essentials in my arsenal of winter attire.
My education was affected in no small way by the first year spent at home with no formal education. The following years of schooling were neither enjoyable nor productive and evening classes became my route to further learning. GCSCs in Economics, Sociology, Psychology – Child Development, and later a Higher National Certificate in Business were my successes.
Most of my career was spent in the Civil Service: Department of the Environment, Office of the Deputy Prime Minister (remember John Prescott?), Communities and Local Government and Department for Transport. Bureaucracy was the order of the day, but I gained a wealth of experience both in Human Resources and general administration and formed lasting relationships. After taking a redundancy package I did several years of temping in different NHS organisations and finally joined the Care Group in May 2016.
Photography was my teenage interest and still is today. I can still remember the night before my first wedding! My friend knew I loved photography and since he wanted to save money by not hiring a professional photographer, he gave me the task. I had never done a wedding before! “What if I mess up, and what if nothing comes out on film?” were thoughts that kept me up that night. So, on the big day I armed myself with three cameras hanged around my neck! I reasoned that one of them should work and I should at least get some decent pictures. I am glad to report that I did a decent job and we remained friends. But following this experience I thought it best to go back to college and study photography.
I am also interested in Poetry. I was bitten by the poetry bug over a year ago and since then I’ve written several poems, mainly for friends and colleagues.
I do think I have the best job in the Care Group! Month by month I sit at meetings with the men and women at the helm of the organisation, recording their discussions and noting the decisions that shape the Care Group into the company it is today. A privileged fly on the wall I dare say! Supporting the Board, the Executive and its Committees is the main purpose of my role. I am also the main contact for the Care Group, dealing with calls from the public and other organisations.
My role is a corporate function and sits in the Central Administration Team
Being in a central role, I do interact to a greater or lesser degree with all the services in the organisation but, Finance and Human Resources are my closest bedfellows, as we occupy the same office.
Finance: Whether it’s booking a hotel for my Board’s Awayday or ordering a special chair for a member of staff; setting up of a taxi account or needing petty cash for sandwiches for an adhoc meeting, my Finance colleagues’ advice and support are invaluable.
Human Resources: I am often called upon to sit on interview panels or take notes at disciplinary hearings. I have always loved HR work.
No doubt you have heard of the expression, ‘the new normal’, which describes the way we now work under the restrictions (and opportunities) of COVID-19. Well here is a typical day in my new normal:
I drive to work each morning (no social distancing concerns) and begin my working day in a SitRep (Situation Report) meeting at 9am via Microsoft Teams. The first floor of Beaumont House, once buzzing with the presence of colleagues and the day to day activities of business, is now a silent space.
At 9.30am I begin to scroll through my emails, many of which are requests for parking permits and fewer for hotel accommodation bookings for frontline staff.
Throughout the day I deal with telephone calls from staff, the public and other businesses.
With most staff working from home and requiring mobile equipment or appropriate furniture, I organise deliveries to homes or staff collection from Beaumont House where appropriate.
Posts and other deliveries haven’t ceased under COVID, so my presence is still required at the office to deal with these.
And, of course, I ‘attend’ my virtual meetings where I take the minutes and write them up later.
I find the hospital garden a welcoming resort at lunchtime and, with the current beautiful weather, a place to top up my much-needed vitamin D.
I have been taking minutes at meetings for many years now, but it still remains a challenge to capture the salient bits and present them as cogently as possible for senior staff. And I must say I do a pretty decent job, but I do suffer from procrastination (not writing up the minutes as soon as the meeting is over!)
My position brings me into contact with staff of all grades, backgrounds and experiences – I love people and being of help where I can.
Only colleagues I work with closely know this about me: I love flowers and buy them for my desk. Call me soft if you like but there is nothing as beautiful as a well-arranged vase of roses, daffodils, or orchids. Also, with everyone being under lockdown I don’t have subjects to photograph so I do the next best thing – I photography flowers (which is not as easy as you might think).