A HIDDEN HISTORY:
African Women and the
British Health Service
Jacequeline Alby is a nurse who arrived in the UK in 1991 from Sierra Leone. She currently works in education, supporting children with learning disabilities. In her interview, she discusses her career progression, African identity and community in Britain, her experiences with racism whilst traveling the world and her hopes for the future.
"I didn’t realise that I was going to be doing nursing, so I came with an open mind wanting to explore. I’ve got a aunt in Sierra Leone, she’s still alive. She’s in her 90s. She'll tell me all of these nursing stories and that's when I [was] making my mind up that it’s something I’d like to do. When I came to England that when I decided to go into nursing."
CHANGES IN THE NHS
"I started nursing at a time when the government had made changes in terms of institutionalisation and community support. When I started a lot of the people I used to care for never went to school or they went to school in very isolated environment and as I said they were excluded completely from society but now all the legislations are advocating for social inclusion."
SUPPORTING PEOPLE AS A LEARNING DISABILITY NURSE
"I am a learning disability nurse. I went into learning disability [nursing] because whilst being in Sierra Leone, I was very open and accustomed to all the other branches of nursing. The one element of nursing that we didn’t have in Sierra Leone that wasn’t recognised was people with learning difficulties and disabilities. So I grew up in a country [not] being aware of those people. You’ll see few disabled people around in crutches or wheelchair. General nursing, paediatrics, anything else you hear about it, but learning difficulties and disability was that one alien that was intriguing to me."
IDENTITY & COMMUNITY
"I trained with a lot of African nurses. I worked with a lot of African nurses as well. And yeah people from all over the world. It was quite an exciting time getting to know the people, discuss challenges, discuss commonalities and yeah – I did enjoy that time."
ADVICE TO YOUNG PEOPLE
"They need to love them – they have to love themselves, and I’ve raised my kids not to want for anything, so it’s about – it’s about themselves as person – as a person. It’s about their confidence and being positive in life, and one of the things I say to India every day is because of the circumstance she is now there are times when it does get to her, but I’m trying to uplift her and say, “Don’t let these people take you away from you”, if that makes sense to you guys."
"Just have your mantra, what do you say to yourself every day when you wake up in the morning and just take that with you whenever you leave your house, and it’s important to leave your house feeling bright, feeling happy, feeling confident, and hold your head up."