NCIC Celebrates International Women’s Day With Inspirational Staff Stories

On International Women’s Day, March 8, the NCIC is celebrating inspirational women by looking at some of their staff.

At the NCIC they want all staff to feel included valued and free from discrimination.

For international women’s day at the Trust they are celebrating with stories from some of the inspirational women who work for them.

Natalie Carman graduated in New Zealand and came to the UK in 1999.

Natalie says: “I was initially told by some I would never be good enough to be a NHS dentist due to my overseas qualification but I used those comments to fuel my determination and took my first job as a salaried dentist in West Cumbria some distance from my home as I knew the NHS Trust would support me with the training required to ‘make the grade’.”

Nicole Cottingham travelled from South Africa and is featuring in an exhibition to demonstrates Carlisle United football club’s commitment to diversity and inclusion.

Amal Kona is consultant paediatrician who works between Barrow and Whitehaven.

Amal’s background is one of travelling to work: “I’m originally from Sudan. However, I lived most of my life in Saudi Arabia. I always wanted to be a doctor.

“It was impossible to get to medical school in Saudi Arabia. I insisted on going abroad to study medicine. Luckily, my father was supportive and agreed to send me to Slovakia to study medicine despite the resistance of all our extended family and uncles.

“I can say with pride I was the first female in my tribe who travelled alone abroad to study medicine.

“It was quite a challenge finding my way in Slovakia. Most people at that time didn’t speak English. I had to learn the Slovak language quickly to find my way.

“I used to take a coffee cup and chat with the old lady in the reception, using all possible non-verbal communication skills to express myself.

“During the day, I would play with children trying to catch some new words. I was pleased that I learned enough language to communicate with others within a month.

“A few months after I came to Slovakia, I attended a graduation ceremony. I have noticed some graduates carried a red diploma while most were blue. I asked why I was told you would get the red one if you graduated with an honour degree.

“At that time, I decided that I would only accept the red diploma. I felt that was the only way to tell my parents that they made the right choice by accepting to send me alone away.”

Yvonne Salkeld started in the NHS in 1987 as a shorthand typist, on an actual typewriter, and has worked her way up to the head of information governance and is still learning.

Yvonne say: “The biggest difficulties to overcome was when the two Trust merged and different, cultures, systems and standards needed to come together.

“We all needed to work together to reinforce boundaries, standardise ways of working, bring in efficient ways of managing and performance management techniques as a positive approach to ensuring everyone played their part.

“I am so proud of how we have come through this as a team and we have such a well-oiled machine now.”

Lauren Storrow trained as a barrister and joined the trust in 2014.

Lauren says: “I applied and was in the role for 8 weeks or so before the entire department left. I had to run the department as a fresh 22 year old graduate for a number of months.

“It was a steep but valuable learning curve. I then worked my way through substantive management roles within the department and was successful in being appointed to the Head of Service in June 2020.

“The biggest difficulty I have had to overcome is my own insecurities around my ability to do the job and being taken seriously as a young, female manager.

“I still struggle with it now at times especially when challenged by someone older and more experienced.”

International Women’s Day asks us all to imagine a gender equal world, a world free of bias, stereotypes and discrimination.

A world that’s diverse, equitable, and inclusive, a world where difference is valued and celebrated.