Hospital reaches out to the community on its doorstep
20 August 2019
St James's hospital is reaching out to the community on its doorstep in a partnership providing access to job opportunities for residents who live in some of the most deprived wards in the city.
The hospital has come together with Leeds City Council, universities, colleges and other NHS organisations to form an Anchor Institution Network to support the health and wellbeing of people locally by addressing the causes of poverty and ill health.
Leeds Teaching Hospitals Trust has worked with the City Council to promote health and care careers, provide access to employability skills and run English as a second language courses.
Already over half of the 50 people from the areas closest to St James’s Hospital - like Lincoln Green, Burmantofts and Harehills - who applied for jobs through the scheme, have been offered roles, including five as nurses and clinical support workers.
The Trust sees the project as using its economic influence to improve the life outcomes of people in Leeds – particularly helping to address poverty which is a significant driver of ill health. It also sees it as an opportunity to embrace diversity in its workplace.
St James’s has been working with the charity, Learning Partnerships, which has been promoting these job opportunities through events, selection processes and training courses.
Among those who will soon start work at St James’s are John Kamure and his wife Bernadette Muthari who left Kenya for the UK after life became unsafe for them.
The couple, who have four children, now live in Harehills, Leeds after being given leave to remain in the UK. John, 46, was working as a youth counsellor in a church in Kenya but when life became dangerous following political violence in the country’s rift valley area three years ago they had to leave their homeland.
They moved to Leeds after initially living in the London area, and became aware of opportunities to work at St James’s Hospital via Learning Partnerships. After a six-week course they were both offered roles as facilities technicians – work which includes support on the wards and porter duties.
“This has changed my life and my family’s life,” said Bernadette. “Most importantly I will now be able to make a difference to other peoples’ lives too.” John quoted the Leeds Teaching Hospitals Trust values “The Leeds Way” which defines how staff work to deliver the best possible care and outcomes for their patients. “I am so glad the NHS have given us this opportunity,” said John. “This is The Leeds Way in action, demonstrating real fairness.”
Nigerian-born renal nurse Rashidat Busari is an example of how the project is helping to job match candidates in areas of need. She has been supported through the programme to gain employment and use her 15 years renal nursing experience for the benefit of Leeds hospital patients.
Rashidat came to the UK from Lagos in 2018 with her husband and thought the scheme would be a perfect transfer of her skills.
She’s now working as a Clinical Support Worker in the renal dialysis unit at St James’s with a view to upgrading her Nigerian nursing qualification so she can work as a Registered Nurse in the unit.
“I am just proud of myself,” said Rashidat. “I am grateful for the opportunity and I’m enjoying it and learning new things.”
Ethiopian teacher Minisha Birhanu Jima came to the UK when the political situation in his own country worsened and he had to leave. Now living in Harehills, Leeds, the 32-year-old says being offered a porter’s role at St James’s has allowed him to start a new life.
As a teacher he says he was in a good position in his own country but has now had to start all over again. “I am now bouncing back, and this opportunity has given me the confidence to start a new life,” he said.
Another who has been offered a role is 56-year-old Nicholas Dhers from Lincoln Green who was born at St James’s and is looking forward to starting his porter’s job there once he’s received final clearance. “This means everything to me,” he said.
Michelle Stanley, Leeds Teaching Hospitals Trust, Staff Support Development Manager, said the trust’s involvement in the project was ultimately about doing the right thing. “This project has allowed us to extend and implement the Leeds Way values beyond the hospital walls to support people within our local communities into employment,” she said.
Lorraine Charlton, a key worker/tutor with Learning Partnerships, has been co-ordinating the programme with the hospital. “This project gives people an opportunity to rebuild their lives with dignity and respect after many of them don’t know where to go next, “she said.
Sheree Axon, the Director of the Leeds Health and Care Academy, a project of the Leeds Academic Health Partnership, said: “We will use the valuable learning from this work for the city to work with partners on how this can be scaled up, supporting our shared aim to help local people from all backgrounds to access the many amazing opportunities in health and care.”
Councillor Jonathan Pryor, Leeds City Council executive board member for learning, skills and employment said: “Our anchor institutions employ over 48,000 people across the city, spend hundreds of millions of pounds and deliver vital services. By working together we can have a big impact on local communities and economies, ensuring that people are in secure and decent employment. This project is one example of where our inclusive growth ambitions have been realised.
“It is fantastic to see so many local people benefiting from this latest scheme and shows the great results we can achieve when we work together.”