As part of our celebration of International Women’s Day 2020, we asked women who worked across the Trust to share their stories.
What is your job?
I am Head of Communications and Employee Engagement at Airedale.
How did you get to where you are today? What made you decide to do what you do?
From growing up in rural Worcestershire (Archers country, Radio 4 fans) I did a degree in German and Management Studies at Leeds University and then, casting around for a graduate job in the early 90s, ended up working for Ernst & Young, the auditors/consultants as a sales administrator. After a few years I wanted a change of direction so applied for a job as communications officer at Eastern Wakefield PCT, based in Castleford, and to my huge surprise I got it. Since then I’ve worked in comms jobs for Wakefield PCT, NHS England in Leeds and the short-lived Yorkshire & Humber Commissioning Support Unit in Bradford, before joining Airedale in 2016. I’ve always loved writing, and words, and how organisations work, and getting involved in stuff (and talking!)….so communications/PR is the perfect job for me.
What do you enjoy about your job and about working at Airedale/in the NHS?
As mentioned, I love writing although I don’t get quite as much chance nowadays to write. I also love how my job gets me involved in all sorts of projects. No two days are ever the same – I can be involved in promoting a new service, managing a tricky media message, filming the CEO, supporting public health messaging, writing a strategy or running an event… This is not a job for someone who likes routine!
I love working for Airedale because it’s my local trust. People here have cared for members of my family in good times and bad, and I love feeling part of my local community. I also like that it’s not too big so you can get to know people, and get exposure to different services easily. Our team has the great job of promoting people’s successes internally and to the local media, which is very uplifting.
What else do you do outside of work? Eg hobbies, caring responsibilities
Until recently I helped to care for my mother – although to be fair that was mainly nipping round and drinking tea with her, watching Strictly or taking her out for lunch/to appointments, as she was very independent. She died last year (in Airedale), so just now my sister and I have a lot on, sorting out her house.
My husband and I both do musical theatre outside of work, which we love. We also enjoy a bit of walking – I’m more of a 5 miles + a pub whereas he enjoys a 15 mile stride in the Lakes. I’m a member of Laycock & District WI which is another great part of our local community. My best thing is spending time with my nephew and niece who luckily live in Oakworth so I get to see them a lot.
What is your message to women considering a career in the NHS?
Firstly that it’s not all doctors and nurses – there is a HUGE variety of careers in the NHS. From a communications/PR perspective you’ll never get a more diverse job, and it’s one that really makes a difference.
The NHS is a great place to work, especially if you’re able to move around a bit to take advantage of career opportunities. We’re lucky in West Yorkshire to have some of the big national agencies on our doorstep in Leeds, and to have some fantastic system working opportunities. Combine that with a good approach to flexible working and I would say that it’s a great time for women to work in the NHS. But you’ve got to get out there and make connections – don’t expect it to fall in your lap. Go forth and network!