In 2009 I had been representing a member who had received an RCN Representative of the Year nomination form. She was very appreciative of the support that I had given her and told me that she was going to nominate me. I didn’t really take that much notice to be honest. It wasn’t anything that I was expecting or even working towards. She asked me about my safety rep role and what I was particularly proud of. I told her about the campaigning that I had done to persuade senior management to invest in lone worker protection devices for staff.
I found out that I had been shortlisted by a phone call from someone at RCN HQ. I was delighted and quite surprised.
I had been to the Congress awards ceremony before but this time it was different. My best friend and I sat together and we had dressed up to attend this time (we had a good excuse to go shopping for new outfits!). Many of my branch and regional officers cheered me on and gave me their best wishes before the announcement.
When I was announced as the winner I felt very proud and overwhelmed by all the attention. There were so many people congratulating me including people that I had never met before, both after the ceremony and during the Congress week.
After receiving the award my confidence increased. I did not tell many people at my workplace that I had received the award, but I found I became more vocal about the issues I felt passionate about and put myself forward for other health and safety project groups. This in turn improved my personal development, my confidence, and my communication and negotiation skills.
Now I’m on the RCN UK Safety Representatives Committee and help to shortlist the nominations for the award. I look at the work nominees have done and the impact or effect it has had on patients or staff.
When you volunteer as a rep you don’t always realise how much extra work you are taking on and many go above and beyond what is expected of them. It is always nice to be appreciated and recognised for whatever you do and awards like this are something that you will never forget.
The award acts as a reminder to me that if I am passionate about an issue (even if it is small) I may be able to do something about it, and can speak up for vulnerable staff or patients.