Conversation with…Fadzai Beatrice Mashingaidze, Safeguarding Children’s Nurse and Founder of Intentional Parenting

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Fadzai Beatrice Mashingaidze is a wife, mom of two teens and a Safeguarding Children’s Nurse. She is passionate about empowering parents and giving children the best start in life.

Through her initiative Intentional Parenting she blogs her thoughts and experiences on motherhood and provides a forum for parents to talk face-to-face or virtually about parenting in the diaspora. Her belief is that educating and supporting each other as parents on parenting and facilitating conversations on the subject are necessary.

She’s served as a Panel Member for the Zimbabwe International Women’s Awards, is a prayer warrior and intercessor at heart, serves in the children’s ministry as a Sunday school teacher for 6 to 8-year-olds in a multi-cultural church, is a primary school governor and firm believer in the power of collective collaboration in influencing policies affecting children, young people and their families.

What’s the difference between a Safeguarding Children’s Nurse and a Social Worker?

We certainly do collaborate, but social workers focus on the social aspect of the child’s care and family dynamics while safeguarding children’s nurses (SCN) provide holistic healthcare for young people, aged 0-18, in the community and how that can be optimised using a range of other services. For example, we can access details of all the admissions of children across the health system, linking all attendances together and so ensuring the best care and…safeguarding their health.

How long has the role of safeguarding nurses been around?

The role was a recommendation of the Laming Report on the murder of Victoria Climbie, which highlighted that one of the contributing factors to her death was that there was no way of linking all her multiple presentations to different emergency departments and realising that there was a serious problem…and communicating that to the community services.

Where do you fit in within the NHS machinery?

We are employed by NHS Trusts and most trusts would have their own SCN. Others may have to share. We are office-based, and you’ll usually see us in emergency departments; essentially our key role is to support young people aged 0-18 who use acute services like accident and emergency.

Walk us through your career path Fadzi.

So, straight after my nursing degree I went into surgical nursing for about a year. I’d really enjoyed my surgical placement as a student where the Ward Sister was very dynamic and enthusiastic, and she became my mentor as well. She inspired me, so, I was looking for a similar experience.

However, I quickly got frustrated because of staffing issues, management and lack of support so I looked for a role that could give me that. I moved into adult intensive care nursing which I did for 5 years. I loved that too – the support, the opportunities for learning; it was fantastic.

But after a while I became a little despondent. I would talk to my rehab colleagues and ask about some of our patients who had been discharged into rehab and I’d hear that they were still there…6 months down the line. Then I thought to myself, ‘What are we doing?’ On top of that my son was about to start high school and I needed more flexibility. So, I decided to become a health visitor, which I did for 3 years. It worked well – it was a blessing; I was working locally, Monday to Friday, 9 to 5 and so I could be home when both he and my daughter were home from school.

What was the inspiration to take on this role?

I wanted a role where I could represent those who don’t have a voice, and I wanted career progression. Interestingly wanting career progression within nursing can be shunned upon because you are seen as being ambitious and some think we are not supposed to be ambitious! But I tell people I’m determined and driven as I know what I want and it’s about finding opportunities to get me there. I want to be part of a conversation that questions and that leads to change.

What’s a working day like for you?

My day varies. But essentially what we do is support any young person who uses our acute services. Let me say that most come in for common, run-of-the-mill illnesses. But when a child comes in because they have been assaulted at school through bullying perhaps, with mental health issues, alcohol or drug misuse, the doctor who has seen them would call us.

I then come in and not only also explore the health reasons but also the social set-up of that child, and this is where taking a full social history is important. It helps the doctor do their job properly as well as allows the young person to open up.

We can review all the hospital admissions that child has had, wherever it may be in the country, and make referrals to other relevant services. So, if the child has mental health issues, we refer to Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services; if there are social issues then we refer to Social Services – whatever support the child needs we seek it.

What keeps you going when the NHS can seem to be such a frustrating place to be?

It can be frustrating! I have had conversations with fellow nurses, black nurses, about why they are no longer in the NHS and they talk of the frustration of having to work twice as hard and in some cases being blocked from achievement and made to feel inadequate. And I get asked ‘How can I move up?’ One thing I say is use your own experiences and look for avenues of support in unlikely places.

The other thing I also say is, like business owners, have a pitch ready! I don’t literally have a pitch ready, but I constantly review where am I on my journey, who can support me, who can I converse with so that when the opportunity comes, I’m ready. And always seek to learn.

So, looks like all your different roles prepared you for what you do now.

The thing with nursing skill sets is that they are all transferrable across the specialities and are absolutely relevant for safeguarding. When dealing with difficult families in the community, I draw on the communication skills that I learnt when I had to give bad news to families on intensive care. Washing and physically caring for patients on intensive care meant I could also do the same if needed for a family in dire straits. So, I encourage people not to shy away from trying different things, from thinking laterally.

Three things you like about your job are…

The learning! I have learnt to safeguard my children too as well as those of others. I love the way the job has widened my worldview. I love the connections and sharing of practice with diverse colleagues. Being in London, I love seeing women of colour in positions of influence.

Three things you don’t like so much about your job?

There aren’t that many things I don’t like! I will say though that the job can be emotionally taxing with some of the situations we see children in. I do miss working with patients at times.

My children think I can be intense too, which I’m not sure is a good thing!

You have an online forum called Intentional Parenting – that sounds really great.

I’m a community giver at heart. In the area I live, we have a very tight-knit Zimbabwean community to the point where we can walk into each other’s houses and will know where the knives, forks and plates are! The feeling of belonging that came with that made me feel comfortable about reaching out and putting my thoughts about the whole parenting thing out there.

So, I blog about life as a mother, a working parent and a wife. I share musings on Instagram and I get parents together to talk all things parenting.

Share some parenting tips with us.

Be present. Children want the simple things from us – our time and our emotional presence. Be open and willing to be in their world.

What’s a parenting ‘no-no?’

I don’t think sleepovers are a great idea. We did allow our son who is the eldest to have them, but we don’t with our youngest. But it’s not because she’s a girl, it’s because back then with our eldest, we didn’t know what we know now!

Next for you is…

More collaborative work. I believe it takes a village to achieve anything. This year I am focusing on speaking engagements to raise the profile of Intentional Parenting and reach more people. I have attended two successful events and have a couple confirmed for mid-year, which I am praying for and am excited about.

We have been nominated for the ZAA Community Champion Award, and I’m honoured to be acknowledged. I am hoping that people vote as that continues to shine a light on what we are doing.

What to know more about Fadzai and Intentional Parenting? Go to:

IG: intentional_parenting

LinkedIn: Fadzai Beatrice Mashingaidze

Blog: https://intentionalparenting.blog

About The Laming Report:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/the-victoria-climbie-inquiry-report-of-an-inquiry-by-lord-laming

https://www.theguardian.com/society/2003/jan/28/climbie.childprotection

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Conversation with…Donna Sinclair, Chief Executive Officer, Options4Change

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Options 4 Change (O4C) works with disadvantaged children and young people, their families and local statutory and voluntary organisations to change minds and lives for the better.

With young people, O4C uses one-on-one mentoring techniques and coaching to influence positive peer engagement, and community programmes designed to provide alternatives to dysfunctional lifestyles. The organisation also runs activities to help adults develop parenting skills and holds community seminars to raise awareness of the impact of exclusions on academic achievement.

O4C was founded over 13 years ago by Donna Sinclair. She is a regular media contributor and discussant on the issue of the disadvantaged in London.

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Why was O4C founded?

The organisation was founded 13 years ago in response to the failing social care system, particularly in Lambeth. Our primary purpose is to advocate for the marginalised in society.

For some, it’s difficult to understand that there are so many people in need in the capital. What’s the extent of deprivation in London?

The thing is there is a ‘hidden world’ that we just don’t see. You have a sub-population of individuals who are destitute with no recourse to any form of assistance. Often people with fixed-term leave to remain may or may not have recourse to public funds and as a result they live here without being able to afford their basic needs like accommodation and live a life of destitution.

They are often the ones that will do any kind of work to make ends meet too. This kind of situation makes people extremely vulnerable. For example, you will have those that have no legal status in this country; though they may take steps to change that, they simply cannot afford the astronomical sums they are charged for the process of legalizing their stay.

The question on everyone’s lips: what is the reason behind this crisis of violence in young people of colour?

There are so many factors. Children and young adults involved in gang-life  and dysfunctional lifestyles are often failed by multiple support systems including parenting, education, social care and housing.

What do we do?

As a community, we need to start seeing all of these young people as our children. When we do that – we develop a true sense of responsibility that drives us to take and demand action. We are paying taxes in this country so we have a right to ask that our needs are addressed.

Next, we must make children feel safe. We also need to bring people together, families together. We can put on family days. Get families out in a park so they just connect and enjoy each other.

The church must also be more visible. They could lead in making a public statement that we recognise what is happening, that we are hurting and that we acknowledge that hurt. After that, the church can start their own programmes to support the community.

We must all do something because enough is enough.

For more on Options4Change go to: http://www.options4change.org.uk/

Contact:

info@options4change.org.uk

55 Leigham Court Road

Streatham

SW16 2NJ

 

 

Conversation With…Beritha Muzondo, Teacher and Founder of VOW/Women of Valiance

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Beritha

VOW/Women of Valiance was founded in 2017 by school-teacher, mother and wife, Beritha Muzondo, to bring women together to support education in Zimbabwe. In 2017, she hosted the 1st VOW High Tea at Woburn Sculpture Park, Bedfordshire which raised just over £1 400 for Kandava Primary School, Seke Rural, Zimbabwe.

This year, VOW will host another fundraiser, a Ladies Luncheon, on Saturday July 14th2018 at Whittleberry Hall, Towcester, Northampton.

 

 

What’s the inspiration behind VOW?

Well, over the past 4-5 years, I had always been sending school supplies, whenever I could, to Rakodzi High School in my home country Zimbabwe. One year, I collected and donated around 300 library books.

Believe me when I tell you that back in my day this school was one of the best schools there was. This was in Marondera, a high-density area. The head teacher was Australian, most of the teachers were ex-pats and it was well-resourced. But when I went back a few years ago, things were not the same, in fact far from it. I thought, if a school like this with so many donors is in this situation, what about a school with no donors.

A school that came to mind that I knew had little support was Kandava Primary School. One year, during a visit to my family homestead in the rural area, as I was driving through, I saw some children going to school without shoes or uniforms. I thought to myself that I could start with buying uniforms.

I decided to shelve Rakodzi as a lot of people were already supporting them, then focused on Kandava Primary. I asked Kandava if they had orphans and they gave me a list of 120 children. That was way too much for me, so, I asked them to prioritise the children in order of need and I went away and started thinking of ideas to fundraise.

What made you think of a high tea event?

I like to plan events and I plan them well. I bounced ideas from others and a high tea event came out on top.

The venue for last year’s event was exquisite! How did you find it?

I like nice things! And we all deserve nice things. What was important was to make the event memorable, so I wanted a venue that was different, unique, elegant and would allow people to dress up. I wanted people to feel that they were doing something truly wonderful and the surroundings had to inspire that feeling.

Last year’s event featured great speakers and that awesome auction! What can supporters and guests expect this year?

This year it  will again be an inspirational, dynamic and fun-filled event. People really enjoyed meeting each other so this year there will be more time for interaction and networking. There are going to be some dynamic speakers as there were last year and with more audience participation.

For you, what was great about the VOW2017 High Tea?

What was wonderful was that so many supported the event and were so generous with their donations. Tickets were sold out and in the end 196 guests attended. In fact, so far, a lot of last year’s guests already have tickets for this year’s event. The one thing they had to do was bring stationery, books and pens and everyone did. With the ticket sales and the luxury auction held on the day, we raised just over £1 400. This bought uniforms, shoes and paid school fees for 20 children at 2 schools – Kandava Primary and Muchakata Primary. Although the event was not formally sponsored, many gave cash donations.

Beritha Kids

The theme last year was ‘Stop Saying I Can’t and Start Saying I Will’. What’s the theme for this year’s event?

This year’s theme is ‘Starve Your Distractions and Feed Your Focus’. It’s important that guests come away feeling inspired in the same way they are inspiring our young people through their generosity.

What opportunities are there for people to get involved and contribute?

We do have sponsorship packages which include time for sponsors do a short presentation about their business. Sponsors can also be anonymous if they prefer!

What would you like guests to donate this year?

This year we ask guests to bring stationery and books again, as well as clothing which of course must be in good condition. We would also like people to sponsor a child which costs £100 per year. Imagine that £100 can support a child at school for a whole year including fees and uniforms. In fact, last year, one guest sponsored not just one child, but the entire family.

What’s the fundraising target amount for 2018?

This year we aim to raise £5 000 to build a borehole for Kandava Primary.

 

For more information on VOW Ladies Luncheon 2018, contact: info@valiant-women.co.uk

For tickets, contact 07979091582, 07850089572 or purchase via website at: http://valiant-women.co.uk/

Tickets cost £50pp and include a 3-course lunch with tea and coffee

Follow VOW Annual Ladies Luncheon on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/womenofvaliance/

If you are not able to attend but would like to donate to the cause, please contact: info@valiant-women.co.uk