'My lecturer inspired me to be a champion for black nurses.'
Mental health nursing student Irene Ibanda was shortlisted for a national Student Nursing Times award for her work on diversity and inclusion - supporting minoritised students through a group at the University and providing diversity training to managers in her graduate role at Cygnet.
‘During my mental health nursing degree, one of my lecturers suggested I join a support group for students from minority ethnic backgrounds, set up by a senior lecturer in adult nursing. The support group is called Nursing and Midwifery Minoritised. We shared our experiences and discussed how to tackle racism. I was also a student rep, representing the views of students in my cohort.'
‘At the end of my course, I got a job at a mental health hospital. From speaking to other Black nurses there I discovered they faced issues such as people giving them “English” names instead of trying to pronounce their real names, which can make you feel like you’re losing your identity.'
‘I wanted to help, so I became the first ever Multicultural Ambassador at my hospital. Problems often come from a lack of knowledge, rather than intentional racism. What’s needed is education. So I deliver cultural awareness training about discrimination to managers here and at other hospitals around the country.'
‘As a result of my work, the founder of the support group nominated me for the Mary Seacole Award for Outstanding Contribution to Diversity and Inclusion at the 2021 Student Nursing Times Awards. It felt great to be chosen for the shortlist out of thousands of nominations.'
‘I’m now studying a masters in applied human rights at Hallam, alongside my job in the hospital. Eventually I would like to work with asylum seekers and refugees, helping them with their mental health.'
‘It’s so important to tackle discrimination in the workplace. It can affect your confidence and even the way you do your job. What I’ve seen is that if we have the support of our managers it makes all the difference. I’ll continue to educate people and give people from ethnic minority backgrounds a voice.’