People's History of the NHS


Portrait of Beverley Callaghan

I’m a District Nurse Team Leader and I work for Sandwell (and West Birmingham NHS Trust).

I have been nursing since 1978 (and that’s before some of you were even born!) - That’s a long time ago, and it actually doesn’t feel like a long time ago, because I’m due for retirement and I’m not really looking forward to going, not yet!

I love my job, I’m passionate about my job, and that really has never changed. Even though I’ve seen some ups and downs, both in my personal life and my professional career, I’ve always remained a very positive person. I not only see the half full, I’m just excited that I’ve got a glass.

I’ve done many roles whilst I’ve been a nurse - and that’s one of the things that’s so amazing about nursing (the variety).

I worked as a student nurse and then I qualified, I worked on the surgical ward, a few years after that I had quite a serious car accident and for part of my recovery I worked on the district and d’you know what? I loved the district! Community nursing is where I’m at now and I started doing community nursing and then I did my district nursing course. I even then went on to do practice teaching and I became a community practice teacher, because actually I do love teaching as well. So I feel really, really fortunate because I’ve not only been able to do nursing which I love, I’m actually teaching patients and staff alike.

As a black, Caribbean nurse, who’s British-born, I really have my feet in two camps and I’ve seen a lot of things which sometimes haven’t always been good... As a black nurse I have been a minority and sometimes that causes problems but again I try to look at things in a positive way...

One of the amusing things that happened to me when I first started nursing, as you can imagine there weren’t that many BME people within our group. I was living in a nurse’s home and I remember cooking on the cooker; saucepan of water with some boiled dumplings. Now, that might not seem that strange to you now but I’m going back to 1978 and obviously it was strange to the people I was sharing a home with - ‘cause when I came downstairs, somebody had bitten a piece of my dumpling! You could see the tooth marks, well I was amused at the time and perhaps a little bit angry but we’ve come a long way and I think this demonstrates that very well. I think people now know that we eat dumplings; they’ve probably even had some themselves.

And that’s how I see life, life’s a journey and things are changing all the time, I just hope they continue to change, and change for the better.

All photographs copyright of Inès Elsa Dalal © 2019 Commissioned by Sandwell and West Birmingham NHS Trust, 2018. No photographs or text may be referenced or published elsewhere, without prior permission.

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