"I feel respected, I feel included and I feel validated" – Kas’ Story
At Solent we hold the principles of equality and inclusion close to our heart. Whilst we can acknowledge the steps, we have taken to reach an inclusive society, many of our colleagues still find it difficult to feel safe and bring their authentic selves to work.
We are working hard to make sure everyone at Solent feels able to be themselves, providing them with the tools they need to support their own wellbeing and to thrive in their roles, no matter who they are. We have many staff resource groups, where our people can go to share ideas and speak to others to who they may be able to relate. These include our LGBT+ and allies, BAME and disAbility groups, where members are growing and accessing the support they need.
Recently, we spoke to Kas Livingstone (they/them) who is a nurse degree apprentice and a valued member of the Solent family. Kas is also an advocate for the LGBT+ community. They speak to us about their journey at Solent, which unbeknown to them, helped them to accept their true selves.
“I’ve been at Solent for nearly four years now and you can’t put the culture here into words, it’s more like a feeling. I feel like I can be who I really am without being scared and I’m part of one big family who really care about me.
“For ages, I was unsure of who I really was, but earlier this year I came out as non-binary and the support I have had from the Trust is incredible. I’m part of an LGBT+ WhatsApp group, I have been given pronoun badges to help educate others about what pronoun to use when speaking with me, and I’ve even been educating my patients about what it means to be part of the LGBT+ community, as they often ask me about what it means to be non-binary; they have been so welcoming, some even open up to me about their own family experiences which is wonderful. When you have the strength to show who you really are to people, it enables them to be completely open with you.”
Kas’ journey into nursing wasn’t straightforward, but they explain that their caring nature, which has been clear since they were a child, was what bought them to where they are today.
“When I was little and my parents were ill, I’d always make sure they had medicine, water, and a blanket, it was just second nature to me. I always used to get told that I should be a nurse, but when you’re a kid, you normally hate doing what you’re told, so I didn’t initially want to be in healthcare. I wanted to be a chef in the army but that didn’t work out so then I tried my hand at barbering. Eventually, it was my friends that told me that I needed to be in a caring role, so I got my first job in a care home and loved it from the moment I walked in.
“After a while, I decided to apply for an apprenticeship at Solent and in my interview I remember them asking me what my five-year plan was, and I thought, wow I’ve not even got the job yet and they’re asking me about my future.
“I work in the adult community nursing team in Southampton, visiting and caring for people in their own homes. The job is amazing and really rewarding and I have a great group of patients who I help care for. Now I’m coming to the end of my nursing degree, I’d really like to build up my own caseload of patients and I also want to start some research into the care of LGBT patients with Dementia.”
Kas speaks openly about their experience of working in Solent, but they also live and breathe our culture, a culture where our people are at our heart, and everyone counts.
“Solent is a special place, as I know I can walk into my manager’s office or speak to a colleague without fear of judgement. I feel respected, I feel included and I feel validated every day, and I don’t think you’re going to get that anywhere else.”