Winnie George, associate director of nursing, midwifery and AHP education is one of our Barts Health inspiring women. In her nomination Winnie is described as a ‘quiet person' who 'chips away doing fabulous work’. She shares how she strives for equality and kindness.
In 1999 Winnie and her husband moved from their home country of Zimbabwe to the UK:
“I had always wanted to be a nurse, but I couldn’t get a place on a course in Zimbabwe despite my good grades. When I came to the UK I was accepted to a university straight away and started my training in January 2001.”
Post-qualification Winnie began working in the community in Tower Hamlets, where she discovered an interest in tissue viability and wound care:
“I had a lady who was 55 years old with chronic leg ulcers, I knew it was going to be a challenge to treat her, but with consistent care we managed to heal one leg.”
She adds: “In 2007 I became a full time tissue viability nurse in the community, I established nurse-led clinics and became eventually became the clinical lead for Tower Hamlets.”
10 years in community, and one beautiful baby girl later Winnie was looking for her next move. In 2014 she joined the nurse education team at Barts Health:
“In 2013, I fell pregnant again with my second child and after maternity leave I decided not to return to the community, I needed a change. That’s when I decided to move to Barts Health.”
During her time at Barts Health, Winnie has formed a fantastic team, completed a masters brought up two children and become an associate director. But, the one thing she is most proud of is embedding the 'Stepping Up' programme for BAME staff.
“In 2018 I completed a course named ‘Ready Now’ which helps BAME staff move to senior, board level positions. I benefitted so much from the programme and I wanted others to have the same opportunities I did.
“Stepping up is a similar course to Ready Now, but is designed for staff at band 5,6 or 7. It prepares them for leadership roles.”
“My colleagues Debbie Jurasz and Lois Whittaker were hugely supportive of me introducing this course at Barts Health, and in 2019 we commissioned two cohorts.
“The feedback from cohort one has been fantastic! Staff want to bring change, and the programme has given them confidence. At one point I didn’t believe in myself either so seeing them grow is amazing.”
One of Winnie’s core values is to give without expecting anything in return:
“When I grew up on a farm in Zimbabwe my mother would buy and sell things, allowing people to pay later on. Even when they didn’t pay she would still give them more. It is only as I’ve grown older that I’ve realised how my mother has influenced and inspired me.”
She adds: “I believe in fair society and equality. When everyone is treated the same and is given the right opportunities, they are happier. Treat others as you wish to be treated.”
When asked about the future, Winnie wants to see more women and people from BAME backgrounds in senior positions; “diversity in people brings diversity in ideas”, she said.
She also wants to give back to her home country and the developing world:
“I’ve lived in the UK for over 20 years, and there is so much opportunity here. My view of the world is very different to those who live in Zimbabwe and other developing countries, I believe the UK can do more to support.”
Winnie describes her team as “inspiring” and her “core foundation”. She gave a special mention to her line manager Debbie Jurasz: “she has supported me in everything I do, I owe her a lot, thank you Debbie.”
Finally, looking outside of Barts Health Winnie admires Jacinda Arden, Prime Minister of New Zealand:
“Like me, Jacinda is a hard-working and full-time mum. She responded to the terrorist attack in 2019 with empathy, compassion and kindness, but also with solutions to help deal with the crisis. That certainly is how I tend to respond to challenges, be it at an individual level or with groups.”