Star Alumni Series: Funke Adewoye

"I have taken that huge step to move out of the comfort zone, I dare say I am in the fear zone and it can be quite crippling but with it also comes the excitement to learn new things, embrace more challenges and make an impact."
Funke Adewoye
Practice Educator with the Student Support Team, University Hospitals Dorest NHS Trust

Funke Adewoye works as a Practice Educator Nurse and is involved in training and pastoral support. She completed the FNF Windrush leadership programme 2022/2023.

‘Don’t walk through the world looking for evidence that you don’t belong because you will always find it. Don’t walk through the world looking for evidence that you’re not enough because you will always find it. Our worth and belonging are not negotiated with other people, we carry those inside our heart. We are enough! I am enough!! You are enough!!!’

“This quote from Brene Brown summarises my journey when I got to the UK. After being such a confident person when I worked in Nigeria, I was actually getting to a point where I was not sure of myself anymore, I had doubts and a lot of questions in my heart with an unsettling feeling and wondering what the future holds. Then came the opportunity to participate in the Windrush leadership journey by FNF and what a beautiful ride it was.

The leadership course was a complete package and truly transformational. We had about 8-10 sessions with each highly impactful, however the sessions that stayed most with me was building your authority with RADA. The bit about comfort zones, when the presenter started, I knew not only was I in my comfort zone, I was sunk in it and if care was not taken, I would get stuck in it as fear of the unknown wrapped around my legs and doubts clouded my already foggy brain, I was like the typical dog with its tail tucked in between its legs, how many of you feel me? We were encouraged to let go of our comfort zone, rather we should embrace the fear and self-doubts as they are essential ingredients in growing, then we move on to learning phase and gradually inch into where we should be.

Personally, I have taken that huge step to move out of the comfort zone, I dare say I am in the fear zone and it can be quite crippling as I take up a new role but with it also comes the excitement to learn new things, embrace more challenges and make impact.

And then, gosh, the Quality Improvement project part of the leadership programme got me to talk. As I said earlier, I had practically lost my voice here in the UK, I doubted myself a lot and hid from interactions.

My project was called: ‘Cross-Cultural Body Language: Bridging the Gap’. It aimed: to improve awareness and clear misconceptions about body languages; to improve quality effectiveness in communication across the Trust; and to improve cross-cultural communication among staff, patients and relatives, thereby improving quality of patient care. This project required that I speak with colleagues, my ward leaders, matrons and senior leaders and there was no going back, this timid dog had to be brave, stand tall, look people in the eyes, send mails and hope for the best and Wow! She was dazed at the results.

The first phase on my project led to a departmental Cultural Awareness Day – Decoding body languages-Bridging the gap. By the end everyone had an improved understanding that a hand signal, silence, a nod, eye contact, touch or body gesture could mean different things to staff and patients of different cultures. It was agreed there is a real need to be sensitive to what people say, how they may say things, and to always ask for clarity when in doubt.

The success of this sparked a trust wide interest leading to the second phase of my Quality Improvement project: the first ever UHD Cultural Celebration Day: a day set aside to admire, affirm and celebrate our Cultural Diversity. This was a Trust Wide Initiative, which was received with such excitement and so much support across our three hospital sites in Dorset.

In the run up to this day The University Hospitals Dorset held her 1st award ceremony, and I was one of the few finalists to be listed for the prestigious awards. I received the Inclusive award for the wide-spread work we are doing on communication and culture in the Trust.

For this Cultural Celebration Day, I received massive support and worked closely with the EDI lead of our Trust, received enormous backing from the B.A.M.E network as well as other staff networks. I learnt to network with senior leaders, board members as well as our chief execs. The planning took a period of 4-5 months as I chaired a planning committee of 80 people which helped my leadership skills, delegation, communication, time management and also helped me work on difficult conversations as well as take up courageous discussions. It was a whole new level for me, terrifying yet at the same time exciting and fulfilling.

The Cultural Celebration Day was definitely a phenomenal success. Lots of positive feedback has been pouring in with many people asking for it to become an annual event. We had lots of activities taking place including welcome speeches by our Execs, good will messages from our senior leaders and EDI lead, as well as a tour on lived experiences across different nationalities. To add to the fun of the day, there were cultural performances in music, dance, choreography, talks, poem and a fashion show. UHD looked beautiful with colours, songs and smiles and UHD staff came out en-mass across our three hospital sites to participate in the epoche making event.

I am really super grateful to everyone and the UHD Cultural Day Planning Committee for their hard work and amazing ideas/contributions. Indeed we were ONE UHD on that day. Proud memories for us all!

Leadership is about influence, showing you care and getting to know what touches people deeply.

I still recall the lessons from my leadership programme and I would encourage anyone at any cadre to attend any programme organised by FNF. Let’s all go out there and make a difference!”

If you would like to apply for one of our Leadership Programmes or Scholarships, find out more here.