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Mary Harper's Story: “There's nothing I can or want to change about the fact that I’m Black and proud of it!”

Published: 12th October 2021

The Trust is proud to employ more than 4,000 people, of which 48.94% staff are from Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic backgrounds. While the accomplishments and contributions of our diverse workforce at every level are always a source of pride for us, Black History Month allows us to shine a spotlight on  the passion and professionalism of black and brown staff, and raise awareness of their culture and heritage.

We are inviting stories from staff to raise awareness of Black History Month in CLCH. This week, we chatted to Mary Harper (Senior Staff Nurse, South West division) about her journey within the NHS, what she is most proud of in her life, and the people who have inspired her to become who she is today.

Is there something you are particularly proud of in your personal or professional life and why?

I am proud to be Black!

Throughout my childhood and adult life, circumstances and the behaviour of some people towards me have made me want to hide who I am: a Black person. Despite the challenges I have faced and may continue to, I know there is nothing I can or want to change about the fact that I’m black; and proud to be so. Being a nurse has opened up many doors for me, in terms of the diverse people that have crossed my path; patients as well as colleagues. Working amongst this diversity and seeing how ill health can bring vulnerability has helped changed how I view the world. 

When did you join CLCH and what is your role?

I was assigned to work for CLCH on their staff Bank after the NHS placed their call out for staff to return to the NHS to support the COVID-19 pandemic. I started my role in April 2019 and have been working primarily with the Heathlands Court Rehabilitation team in Merton, South West division.

How did you feel about the Black Lives Matter movement last year?

The George Floyd incident has opened up dialogue which is a good thing. It was able to show truth in motion. For so long, many would not believe or simply were in denial of the everyday experiences of the inhumanity so many faced on a daily basis – racism.

That one event caught on film, helped open up a world that so many chose to deny existed. For many this has set a positive chain reaction in motion, hopefully for the better. 

We'll be reflecting on the Black Lives Matter movement, which shook the world last year. Keep an eye on the Hub this month.

Who inspired you to become a nurse?

My eldest sister, with whom I was left (along with other extended family members), when my parents left the Caribbean to come to the UK in the 1960's), told me that when I was two years old, I stated that I wanted to be a nurse when I grew up. I do not recall the circumstances or the comment, but safe to say, I did train to become a nurse at 19 years old.  

Are there any role models that have inspired you and why?

My role models have been varied and have changed with the passage of time; from the dedicated teaching teams and colleagues on the wards where I trained in the 1980s, the nurses and healthcare assistants who led by example; showing courage, and excellence in communication long before the term 6 c's (care, compassion, courage, communication, commitment and competence) were coined.

I always found a way to feed off the best practice and commitment that I saw demonstrated by colleagues I worked alongside. I always strived to be the best in whatever area of the NHS I have worked in. It has been a career that has given back to me during my own personal ups and downs in life. I had retired but was happy to come back to work in order to support the NHS that has been such a big part of my adult life.

We are continuing to collect stories from colleagues across the month. If you would like to share your story, email clch.communications@nhs.net.
 

Get involved in this year's Faces of the NHS

The NHS's London’s ‘faces of the NHS’ campaign returns and you can share your inspirational stories - whether it's your own story or nominate a Black colleague who have made important contributions locally or in the wider society. It's important to recognise the contributions of NHS staff from Black backgrounds and to celebrate inspiring Black Londoners as a whole. Upload your photos and stories on the NHS map online gallery page.

The Trust is proud to employ more than 4,000 people, of which 48.94% staff are from Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic backgrounds. While the accomplishments and contributions of our diverse workforce at every level are always a source of pride for us, Black History Month allows us to shine a spotlight on  the passion and professionalism of black and brown staff, and raise awareness of their culture and heritage.

We are inviting stories from staff to raise awareness of Black History Month in CLCH. This week, we chatted to Mary Harper (Senior Staff Nurse, South West division) about her journey within the NHS, what she is most proud of in her life, and the people who have inspired her to become who she is today.

Is there something you are particularly proud of in your personal or professional life and why?

I am proud to be Black!

Throughout my childhood and adult life, circumstances and the behaviour of some people towards me have made me want to hide who I am: a Black person. Despite the challenges I have faced and may continue to, I know there is nothing I can or want to change about the fact that I’m black; and proud to be so. Being a nurse has opened up many doors for me, in terms of the diverse people that have crossed my path; patients as well as colleagues. Working amongst this diversity and seeing how ill health can bring vulnerability has helped changed how I view the world. 

When did you join CLCH and what is your role?

I was assigned to work for CLCH on their staff Bank after the NHS placed their call out for staff to return to the NHS to support the COVID-19 pandemic. I started my role in April 2019 and have been working primarily with the Heathlands Court Rehabilitation team in Merton, South West division.

How did you feel about the Black Lives Matter movement last year?

The George Floyd incident has opened up dialogue which is a good thing. It was able to show truth in motion. For so long, many would not believe or simply were in denial of the everyday experiences of the inhumanity so many faced on a daily basis – racism.

That one event caught on film, helped open up a world that so many chose to deny existed. For many this has set a positive chain reaction in motion, hopefully for the better. 

We'll be reflecting on the Black Lives Matter movement, which shook the world last year. Keep an eye on the Hub this month.

Who inspired you to become a nurse?

My eldest sister, with whom I was left (along with other extended family members), when my parents left the Caribbean to come to the UK in the 1960's), told me that when I was two years old, I stated that I wanted to be a nurse when I grew up. I do not recall the circumstances or the comment, but safe to say, I did train to become a nurse at 19 years old.  

Are there any role models that have inspired you and why?

My role models have been varied and have changed with the passage of time; from the dedicated teaching teams and colleagues on the wards where I trained in the 1980s, the nurses and healthcare assistants who led by example; showing courage, and excellence in communication long before the term 6 c's (care, compassion, courage, communication, commitment and competence) were coined.

I always found a way to feed off the best practice and commitment that I saw demonstrated by colleagues I worked alongside. I always strived to be the best in whatever area of the NHS I have worked in. It has been a career that has given back to me during my own personal ups and downs in life. I had retired but was happy to come back to work in order to support the NHS that has been such a big part of my adult life.

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