“Masks replacing smiling faces and latex replacing human touch” – the reality of balancing civic and nursing life with a message of pride, hope and thanks from Cllr Jenny Andrews, Mayor for Rotherham and Mental Health Nurse
At my inauguration as Rotherham’s Mayor almost 12 months ago, our economy was the fastest growing in the region, names like Boeing, Rolls Royce and Gulliver’s had all chosen to locate and invest here. I am so proud of our town’s world-renowned skills base, our strong work ethic, our real can-do entrepreneurial approach to opportunities, and a friendliness and community spirit that defines the values of our town and our people.
When I gaze across Rotherham today it is in many ways a very different town, but in other ways not so. Instead of the buzz of industry and social chatter I hear stories of great acts of kindness, bravery, innovation and collectiveness that to be honest doesn’t really surprise me, as our key and care workers and our NHS work tirelessly and selflessly, companies on our Advanced Manufacturing Park innovate to produce much needed equipment for our hospitals, and our public services and communities come together to care for those who are vulnerable and in need of support during this pandemic.
Having both the honour of a civic role for Rotherham during this awful time, and also the honour of working on the front line as a mental health nurse as well, brings perspective to me; from the unity of our town’s leaders to the team work and professionalism in our care system as well as the individual acts of support, I have never been so proud of this town.
My day job has changed much, as we have had to adopt working practices and the way we live our lives to keep the people we care for safe as well as ourselves and our families. Masks have replaced smiling faces, latex has replaced human touch, isolation has replaced hugs and engagement, yet we will come through this – it is the very essence of what makes us human, our resolve, compassion and determination.
We need to heal our amazing place too, our wonderful Rotherham so that the negativity that has often defined us over recent years is dulled by the brilliance of what we have and who we are – a plethora of towns and villages, filled with amazing people that are connected by wonderful green spaces, awarding winning parks, reservoirs and woodland – green space makes up 70% of our borough, how lucky are we.
In my years working in mental health I have seen many troubled people recover to have happy, fulfilled lives, reaching their potential, achieved through a team of people pulling together, giving support, encouragement and most importantly a recognition of worth. When I think about our town, I believe we all could have the same common goal of recognising our town’s worth, reinstalling pride in what we have and who we are, a real team effort of positivity. If we aren’t proud of who we are then how can we expect others to see and value the greatness we have.
This virus not only spreads illness, death and fear but it also evokes all the very best of humankind, and I see that everywhere I look in my civic role. As a local lass from Maltby, if I can recognise my worth, achieved my full potential by gaining a masters diploma in mental health nursing at the age of 48, and then going onto care for some of our most vulnerable people, as well as becoming our town’s mayor…then believe me anything is possible.
I have had the support of a wonderful employer, Tony Gearty, CE of Cheswold Park Hospital, and I am ever grateful for everything he continues to do for his staff and also the care of our patients.
Let’s celebrate and shout about out great town, not just in this incredibly difficult time but beyond Covid-19 too. I am absolutely delighted to see MyRotherham being launched, a place for positive up-beat stories. Please sign up for the alerts, I have, so that I can be continually reminded about how brilliant we all are. It is a fantastic example of team-work from across Rotherham, helping to achieve our potential, recognising and celebrating our worth, helping to make our town a Place to Be Proud Of.
Stay safe and well and remember… Stay Alert, Control the Virus, Save Lives.
Take care and thank you, every one of you.