A husband and wife team from the Trust have taken centre stage in a campaign to encourage more South Asians from Luton into careers in mental health.
Shannaz and Zaz Wahid have supported a University of Bedfordshire outreach project in Luton focused on promoting courses and careers in nursing, including mental health, and midwifery.
The couple, born and raised in the town, are passionate about the rewards of working in mental health and determined to highlight opportunities available and challenge preconceptions many in the South Asian community have that stop them considering nursing careers.
They have featured in promotional posters produced by the university and acted as role models at public events in the town, speaking about their careers.
Zaz is a senior manager with Luton Psychiatric Liaison Team at Luton & Dunstable Hospital and Shannaz is a community mental health nurse with one of the Luton Community Mental Health Teams (CMHTs).
“We love Luton and we love nursing,” said Shannaz.
“We were delighted to be involved in such a positive project.”
Zaz said he wanted to engage with people who thought ‘nursing isn’t my kind of job’.
“Many mistakenly believed the pay was rubbish and there were limited opportunities for career progression,” he said.
He added: “I started as a healthcare assistant and am now a respected senior NHS manager. I am proud of what I have achieved and hope this will encourage others to do the same.”
The outreach events are part of a pioneering community-based programme (CTOP) run by the University’s Institute for Health Research (IHR) and Health Education England (HEE).
Senior Research Fellow from the University’s Institute for Health research Dr Nasreen Ali, who is leading the programme, said: “Increasing diversity in the NHS is a key concern for HEE, with evidence highlighting that increasing diversity brings improvements in cost management, quality of care for patients and better health outcomes.
“We want to show the South Asian community in Luton that studying nursing and midwifery courses, and having a career in these areas, is a real possibility for them, and that studying at the university can open a door to a rewarding and fulfilling career in the NHS.”
The evaluation of these events will be used by HEE to inform future recruitment campaigns in order to broaden diversity within the NHS workforce.