“Staying true to yourself is important - tough times will pass"
Marina is a Sensory Service Senior Practitioner at Solent NHS Trust and also works as part of Social Services. Her specialist role means she is one of only 150 practitioners in the country qualified to provide sensory assessments and interventions to keep people, who have dual sensory loss (people who are deaf and blind), as independent as possible in their own homes. Read about what Black History Month means to her, about her first observations of moving to England, and her positive mantra which is to work hard and keep learning.
“Black History Month means so many things to me. I have a very ethnically mixed background. My father was East Indian and African mixed, and my mother is Portuguese and Spanish mixed. For me, it’s an acknowledgement of my ancestors and a time to ponder on all the positive influences they have had in the world even though they may not have been recognised at the time.”
Marina goes on to say, “I was born in London and moved to Trinidad when I was four years old. I came back to live in England in 1988 and settled in London. When I first arrived in England, I noticed some very interesting things. I came from a lovely home in Trinidad with a front and back porch to sit on. So, when I came here and noticed the houses, I’d think why do all the houses have to be joined up?
“I was amazed that I couldn’t hear the rain when it fell, and I couldn’t tell if it was going to rain because the clouds were always dark, but it didn’t always rain. I used to get very upset as I walked down the road and said, ‘Good Morning and Good Afternoon’ to older people in the street because I was taught it was respectful, but they often wouldn’t respond. I even introduced myself to my neighbour when I first moved into the area. It was funny as they looked at me very strangely as if they were waiting to hear what I wanted, they didn’t understand that I was simply letting them know that I’d moved in next door.
“I also remember working at one of my first jobs, which was on a patient ward and before I’d even had the chance to speak to one patient, he said, ‘I don’t understand you, what part of Africa are you from?’ He made it clear he didn’t want me to attend to him. So, I left his bedside and later saw him watching me in awe, as he witnessed me speaking clearly and in plain English to the other patients. It’s fair to say my first experiences of England were a real eye-opener!
“I worked really hard and with the help of family members who had their own businesses, I was able to buy my own house within nine months of arriving. I didn’t listen to other people’s opinions, such as the people in the housing office, who told me and my husband that I would need to get pregnant before I could get housing! Later we did go onto have a daughter, but it was on our terms, not theirs.
“I come from a family who have always studied a lot and that work ethic has probably passed on to me because every two years I always need to find a qualification to do, otherwise I get itchy fingers. Even during the pandemic, I’ve completed courses on supporting staff at home with their mental health, maintaining wellbeing whilst homeworking and personal resilience during a pandemic.
“I am quite a pragmatic person and I like getting things done. Sticking to my word is the biggest part who I am both in my personal and professional life. I guess I am also a survivor. If you do what is in your heart, people will see and acknowledge that you are doing a good job.
“If I were to leave any advice, for anyone who cares to listen, but especially to my BAME colleagues it would be this - “Staying true to yourself is important. Tough times will pass. It’s about enduring the struggle and lasting the length of the race.”