Andrew Williams joined the Norfolk Community Health and Care NHS Trust Board as a Non-Executive Director (NED) in 2017.
Andrew is also an active volunteer with Headway, a charity for people with brain injuries which provided invaluable support to Andrew and his family when he was involved in a collision with a car whilst riding his bicycle, causing a brain injury that means he experiences ongoing cognitive problems including fatigue, concentration and memory.
“I was a patient of the NCH&C community neuro-rehabilitation team, and my team were very supportive of my applying to become an NHS NED. My role with NCH&C allows me to contribute in ways that combine experience and perspectives from my own brain injury as well as those from the diverse group I meet volunteering at the local Headway centre in Kings Lynn, together with those from my working life as a health and care manager.”
Andrew’s experience is helping to raise awareness of hidden disabilities at the most senior level in NCH&C.
“I am open about my cognitive disabilities so that people can improve their understanding of the limitations these hidden disabilities can cause and how I need to self-manage these. NCH&C has willingly and proactively recognised that I need to take short breaks every hour or so to manage fatigue and maintain concentration. There are regular opportunities for me to step out for 10 quiet minutes to take ‘brain breaks’.”
Far from being a limitation Andrew’s injury has given him a new perspective, which he is pleased he can use to positive effective in his role at NCH&C.
“Being an NHS NED has given me a sense of purpose and value in being able to fit my past life experiences into my life post-head injury.”
Clemence Engamba is a Project Manager in NCH&C’s Projects & Investments Team. She believes a sense of belonging is vital to engender a positive working environment.
“It is humbling to see the immense trust the public places in us as NHS workers and I strongly believe that it takes extraordinary people to meet others when they are at their most vulnerable. Yet what has moved me most is to find out how accepting and compassionate colleagues are – not only with patients but with other colleagues as well.”
“When I moved to the UK a few years ago I went through several challenges, from learning English to gaining a clear understanding of the job market. I took every opportunity to learn, gain new skills and develop, both personally and professionally. At times it felt like a lost battle and I often wondered whether I would ever fit in. The sense of belonging can be quite a difficult thing to achieve, especially when we feel different and sometimes are reminded of our status in unfortunate moments. This is not something I have had to worry about since joining NCH&C.”
Clemence is determined that her example should not be the exception and works hard to raise awareness of issues around diversity.
“The topic of diversity in our communities and workplaces must now, more than ever, be highlighted. I am proud of all the good work that NCH&C has already been doing to level the playing field for all staff, regardless of their background, and I look forward to what the future holds in my journey.”
Giusy Angelini is an Assistant Manager in the Commercial Services team at Norfolk Community Health and Care NHS Trust. During the COVID-19 pandemic Giusy has been seconded to the trust’s Incident Control Centre, helping to manage the flow of information across the trust and support the trust’s centralised incident response.
“I’ve been redeployed into a different role with a different team and a new mindset. It’s a new type of approach to work as well and learn. The role has changed a lot over the last few months because things have developed and changed in ways you couldn’t really predict.”
Despite the pressures of working in a busy and fast-moving environment, the team around Giusy has found time to offer support and ensure that her time in the Control Centre has been a valuable learning experience.
“It’s a really fantastic team. Everyone is really supportive. People also wanted to share their experience with me so I learned really a lot.”
“I really am learning a lot and I am learning something that would usually take 6 months just concentrated in a few weeks. It was really important to me because I felt personally working in an environment where I was supported, I was able to gain confidence in doing something that wasn’t really my usual thing.”