Overseas nurses gather for ‘empowering’ day

This year’s overseas nurses’ network allowed members to engage with leaders in the nursing sectors about their priorities for overseas nurses

Overseas nurses gather at their annual seminar in UNISON centre

Members of the overseas nurses’ network gathered at UNISON centre last week for their annual seminar. The network aims to connect overseas nurses for mutual support, to offer expertise to UNISON and to provide a safe space for individuals to share their experiences.

This year, the seminar allowed the nurses to engage with and question leaders in nursing organisations about their priorities for overseas nurses.

In other sessions, the event also gave attendees the opportunity to explore the ongoing impacts of the ‘hostile environment’ policies, discuss the work surrounding the Migrant Worker’s Charter and contribute to a future learning and development programme run by the UNISON college.

National officer for nursing, Stuart Tuckwood said of the event: Overseas nurses in the UK are up against so many challenges; it’s so important our union stands together with them.

“Our network is growing very strong and at this event it was really inspiring to see our nurse members challenging healthcare leaders, supporting each-other and planning collective action to overcome the difficulties they are facing.”

Overseas nursing seminar - one of the nurses stands up to speak from behind a table

Members of the network were overwhelmingly positive about the seminar.

Victor Tapah

“Being in the room with the leaders of organisations, those making decisions – being able to ask them about your worries was massively important. You find out that they are worried about you and what is happening and they want to help make changes.

“Another thing that was particularly important today was that UNISON is trying to find ways to help internationally educated nurses develop. We are facing barriers with progression, at the moment, so they are giving us support and helping us enhance our skills and helping us progress.”

John Obiakor

John spoke about the value of being on the network, saying: “One thing that has been significant is knowing that I haven’t been the only one to experience some form of challenge since I arriving, it gives me comfort knowing there are other people with similar experiences.

“And the day wasn’t just sharing those experiences, but sharing them in the right forum, where important people are listening to what we are experiencing on the ground.”

Regina Reyes

“I really found it very empowering today, having the nursing stakeholders and leaders to come together with us in an event that was really beneficial and fruitful for everyone. I have so many take aways to take back to my fellow internationally educated nurses in Wales.

On how important it is for overseas nurses to be in the union, she said: “It’s so important. I came here as an overseas nurse, I have no family around, I don’t know the culture or the laws or policies and having a union with me is such an empowering thing to have. To have a safe space to express my opinion, to have a sense of belonging and to have the support I might or will need in the future is vital.”

Summarising the event, Chair of the network, Gamu Nyasoro, said: “When we started this network, our desire was to bring a platform to our overseas nurses where we provide a safe place for them to share their journeys, good or bad.

“I am so pleased that we have managed more than what we planned. We have not only gained more members but created a network that will grow and build future activists for UNISON.”

“It was such a success and the members that attended felt that not only UNISON, but also the other organisations who came ­– the NMC, NHS England, CNO for Adult Health and Social care, do care about our journeys. And they respect that we have people who are trying to achieve a better transition and integration of our internationally educated staff.”

Overseas Nursing Network

The network is open to all nurses in UNISON who have come to the UK from overseas and holds several online meetings each year and an in-person seminar. Anyone interested in joining should e-mail h.group@unison.co.uk to be connected.