Meet Cecily Mwaniki, our Community Engagement Lead specialising in equality and diversity.
Before moving to Berkshire Healthcare 18 months ago, Cecily worked for the local authority and prior to that, in the voluntary sector, so she brings with her a wealth of public sector knowledge.
Cecily’s job in one of the more unusual roles we have in the NHS, we caught up with her to find out more.
Cecily, what does your job as Community Engagement Lead involve?
My role involves reaching out to the ‘seldom heard’ communities to help improve patient experience of our services and promote equality and diversity to bridge the health inequalities’ gap.
I do this by getting involved with activities aimed at empowering and equipping communities with the relevant knowledge and care, to cope with the inevitable life difficulties and toughness they face. This all has an end result of helping them to maintain positive wellbeing.
For those that don’t know, can you explain who the ‘seldom heard’ communities are?
‘Seldom heard’ is a term used to describe groups who may experience barriers to accessing services or are under-represented in healthcare decision making. This may include rural communities, Black and Asian Minority Ethnic (BAME) groups, gypsies and travellers, Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) groups, asylum seekers and refugees, and carers, including the young carers.
How does your job help the different communities in which you work?
These communities may not always reach out to healthcare providers for a number of reasons, such as culture, religion or language barriers. My role is to help break the barriers down to improve patient experience of our service, understand and meet their health needs and promote equality.
My work with these communities involves:
- understanding their needs and priorities
- finding out how they like to get involved
- understanding and identifying the way they prefer to be communicated with and what tools they use
- finding out who they trust and have good relationships with, and then working with them to build on those relationships.
- speaking at their events and getting involved in their activities
What makes you so passionate about what you do?
Helping to look after the wellbeing of our communities -so working with everyone in the community to make it happen, is not only reassuring, but also empowering. It is not a routine job.
What do you find most rewarding about your job role?
Empowering and seeing communities find their voice, and boosting their wellbeing through what they love most and are comfortable with, without being judged.
In terms of your background, are you a clinician or a diversity and inclusion specialist, or both?
I would say both. My clinical knowledge comes from my background in public health, health promotion and substance use & misuse. Over the years, I have also managed the equality and diversity agenda and gained a level five qualification.
Is there anything unique or unusual about your job role?
I think my role is unique because I get to work with diverse communities who know the best way to address the issues our services provide to them. Rather than me telling them what we are going to do, they tell me what we should do. I call this the bottom-up approach. This can be cost-effective in the long run, but more importantly it’s also a great way of empowering them and improves patient experience.