Sheila Bekoe Admin & Clerical Winner 20219th March 2022
In our final interview of our 2021 Winners Series, we speak with Sheila Bekoe, Admin & Clerical Winner based at Pennine Care NHS Foundation Trust.
We ask Sheila how her daily working life changed during the Pandemic, how she got involved with Charity work with struggling BAME families in Greater Manchester, her role in the Equality Mentoring Project, and how it felt to win for Admin & Clerical at the 2021 Unsung Hero Awards.
Hi Sheila, did your daily working life change significantly in the Pandemic, if so, how?
Yes. It changed because at the height of the pandemic we had to work from home, which we had never done before. It was quite tricky taking calls at home and trying to do your best, especially when at times we did not have access to paper files at home. Anytime we went into work, the main thing was keeping safe and making sure that we had our PPE on. It took some getting used to wearing masks all day.
You were nominated on the grounds of your charity work with struggling BAME families around the Manchester area. Can you explain more on this?
I was introduced to these families when I accompanied my friend who has a charity to drop off some food items. I was quite taken aback by the plight of these families, especially as they all had young kids and my concern was what would happen to them after their food ran out. Apart from food, I could see that they would also benefit from clothes and toys, especially as it was Christmas. I decided to organise a Trust wide campaign to collect these items to help these families and it was very well received.
How many Trust volunteers did you successfully recruit to help deliver donations and what did a typical volunteering weekend look like for you?
I had 4 people help with the deliveries. Alongside them there were quite a few people who would just show up at my office with stuff for the families and it created a sense of camaraderie amongst those of us who were supporting the families. A typical weekend would include us meeting up in one of the big offices to sort out food items, clothing, books and toys and organising into boxes for sending out to families identified as in need.
Can you explain more on the ‘Equality Mentoring Project’ and your involvement in it?
The Equality Mentoring project is an initiative started by my Trust where staff from unrepresented groups, eg. BAME, get to mentor Senior Management and show them what’s like to work in our roles. I was part of the first cohort and I had the chance of mentoring the Workforce Director who was so receptive, we had great rapport and she was genuinely interested and wanted to make a difference. She was also keen to learn and feedback to her Senior Management team to see if there were any further areas that could be improved.
How did it feel to win for Admin & Clerical at the 2021 Unsung Hero Awards?
It was quite surreal, it was quite awesome to be nominated let alone win as well. I couldn’t believe it because I just set out to help people and then I found myself winning an Award for it.