My name is Barbara Makunde. I am a Specialist Midwife for Risk Management at North Middlesex University Hospital and am part of a wonderful and supportive team leading on risk management in Maternity.

I heard about FNF Windrush Leadership Programme on the closing date. I could not have done it without the accommodation of and support from my line manager and Chief Nurse. They rallied behind me to ensure I did not miss the deadline by signing all the necessary paperwork. I became one of the 44 selected out of 750 nationwide.

My Initial Experience

I attended my first session unsure of what to expect. Coming out of the first session, I realised that I was now destined for bigger things to come. Following the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts (RADA) sessions, I started seeing myself change. I started coming out of my shell, itching to be involved more at work and believing in myself. I was no longer this very shy person. RADA sessions helped me to find my voice and since then there has not been any going back. I have found my voice. I cannot be in a meeting and leave without my contribution being heard.

The Highlights

What made the programme such a success for me was the quality of the people running it, true experts in their fields. The Windrush Leadership Programme was the ‘gold standard’ of learning. At the end of the programme, I completed a poster for my Quality Improvement Project and my project was highly commended which made me proud and have a sense of achievement. I was asked present it the Divisional Audit meeting, Maternity Learning Event and Medication Safety Group meeting in the Trust. I really feel indebted to FNF and North Middlesex University Hospital for bringing me this far.

The New Me

I have really gained a lot of confidence that I can bring about change especially with the inbuilt drive for patient safety and quality care provision. I have started mentoring others to help them find their voices too. I really feel excited that a lot more staff members are expressing interest in FNF, especially after seeing how I have grown. Those who have not been able to gain a place in their programmes are still engaged and tapping into FNF’s online support sessions, Nightingale Frontline.

Within a few months of starting my Windrush Leadership Programme, I started getting involved in extra activities, participating in arranging a welcome event for our new maternity leads and celebration day recognising staff members in the Unit. I have been approached to take part in the Medication Safety Group and work with a lead in drafting the Medication Error Policy, CQC peer review. The CNO England, Ruth May, visited our hospital and I had an opportunity to meet her as an FNF Scholar. I shared my QI project with her and she was impressed. She expressed that she wanted me to assist other Trusts to work on a national project. This was and is still a lightbulb moment for me.

I am grateful for these life changing experiences, such as the RADA training, Quality Improvement project, developing greater understanding of leadership styles, leading with greater presence and impact, confidence building, influencing change, and being part of the Alumni which are some of the amazing benefits the Windrush Leadership Programme has helped me with. Even after completing the programme, I see continuous growth in myself and will grab every opportunity that comes my way. My journey has only just begun with FNF. I am so grateful.

Know Me a Bit More

Rewinding a bit, I was brought up in Zimbabwe as the second born and eldest daughter of six children, now married a mother of 4. In my early years, I worked as a teacher in rural Zimbabwe, in an environment which taught me to be resilient. Seeing my grandmother battling cancer when I was a little girl made me want to be a nurse. I applied for nurse training in Zimbabwe and waited patiently to be called through for interview. During this wait, I also heard about the Project 2000 in the UK and decided to apply at a few universities.  They all invited me for interviews. I landed in UK on 14 February 1999, had my first interview on 16th of February and was immediately offered a place to start the following month. I took the offer.

Fast forward and I completed my nurse training in March 2002. During my placements, I developed a strong passion for midwifery such that I applied before completing my nursing and got a conditional offer pending nursing completion. Whilst I waited to start my midwifery training, I did critical care rotation working in CCU, A&E, and ITU. In September I went on to study a BSc in Midwifery and completed in April 2004.

I went on to gain experience in all areas of midwifery and furthered my studies by undertaking an MSc in Public Health. My major project was highly commended for publication in a journal of professionals and it was published in MIDIRS in June 2018. I have also worked as a CQC Registered Manager (for Compliance).

I have in the past couple of years co-organised some of the RCN events and Nursing Now campaign. I have supported White Ribbon Alliance for respectful maternity care as a board member for the Zimbabwe chapter.

I am a founding member of the Tulips Foundation which its vision and mission is to promote safer births in marginalised countries. In January 2020, Tulips Foundation sourced out 210 basic delivery packs for expecting mothers and their babies. I volunteered at Karanda Hospital in Zimbabwe in maternity and Family and Child Health wards, sharing resources and knowledge while also learning a lot from the Karanda team. I also gave health education talks in the antenatal clinic on mental health in pregnancy and teenage pregnancy.

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