Welcome to #ThisIsMe, our blog series focusing on the incredible diversity of our North Mid family. Charlotte Farr, operational resilience manager, is our second colleague to share her story and experiences. Feel free to leave any comments for her at the end of this page.
If you wish to share your own story and experiences about diversity, please contact our communications team at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Hello North Mid,
I’m Charlotte Farr - also known as Charlie - and I am the operational resilience Manager at the hospital. Luckily, I joined our Trust at the beginning of 2020, at the start of the COVID pandemic. I say ‘luckily’, as working here at North Mid has really changed my life and directed my career and future prospects.
A bit about me prior to joining North Mid, and the NHS.
I haven’t had the most conventional pathway into the NHS. I moved to London back in 2015, in hope of wheedling my way into a ‘lavish’ career within the fashion industry, following my degree at London College of Fashion.
After years of interning in reputable fashion houses, I secured a role into the PR industry, after making connections during my time at Burberry HQ. This then later evolved into me becoming a buyer at ASOS, then the notorious Topshop HQ.
As glorious as it sounds, the job mainly constituted of creating multiple excel spreadsheet’s, haggling suppliers globally to achieve better margins on the products working with large budgets, and trying to convince my merchandisers for more money to spend each month. ( of which I did very well)
Although it sounds like the ideal career for some, I wanted a career in life that would be more fulfilling, and something where I would be constantly learning, therefore I decided to start volunteering at the mental health Charity ‘ the mix’, which provides essential mental health support for under 25s.
Whilst volunteering here, I decided I wanted to study another degree and re train in another field, but still unsure as to what direction to go into. During my volunteering at ‘the mix’, I met Allie Casey, service Manager here at North mid, and she gave me some great advice and leverage into a career within the NHS.
I was exceptionally lucky, the week I joined North Middlesex and Left Topshop HQ, the brand announced it would be making most staff redundant due to a dive in sales, meaning most of my colleagues had to find another role in the creative industry during the beginning of the pandemic, when the industry uncertainty prevailed.
I remember my first day at North Middlesex Hospital, I was so excited, yet so nervous as what to expect. My first day I wanted to support ICU as they were affected greatly by the pandemic, and that is where I met now assistant director of nursing, Gillan Johnson, senior nurse, Vikki Howarth and Matron, Florence Cobbald, who all took me under their wing and made me feel like a family to the team.
I was in AWE at the nursing and medical teams, at how they coped during the pandemic, so resilient, talented and caring. Myself, Gillan, Vikki and Florence, would spend hours walking round the expanded ICU ward, facetiming patients families, creating that bridge for them to see their family in such a strange and devastating time. We built up great relationships with family members, of which we were able to be the support for them, even during the worst of circumstances.
We even have a great relationship with one of the patients from ICU and his family to this day, who has done exceptionally well in his recovery from COVID, and is so grateful to all teams at North Mid.
After a month or so of supporting the ICU team, it had inspired me to re-train within the nursing field – so here I am, half way through another degree in Adult Nursing, and working at north mid alongside my studies, challenging yet insightful and utterly exciting.
My life growing up
The pandemic in some way made me realise how resilient I can be within stressful situations, and how empathetic I am towards patients and families, most likely from my own upbringing. I grew up in a small area of the North West, known as ‘The Wirral’. A beautiful area, which I am so grateful to have experienced however, I also experienced a pretty challenging upbringing.
I am one of five children, second oldest of four girls and one boy. My mother was a nurse-midwife working at Liverpool Women’s Hospital, which did initially inspire my career – however I actually grew up frightened of hospitals, and avoided them at any cost. I sadly grew up seeing the devastating effects mental health can be on a person, with both parents suffering considerably with their own mental health.
My Mother was extremely ill growing up, and would be in and out of ICU for a good seven years of my life, until she finally succumbed to her numerous health issues when I was 17 years old.
I don’t want to focus on the negatives of the story, however direct the focus onto the positives of this experience.
My life experience have been an invaluable asset to my nursing/NHS career journey and how I can empathise and support patients and family members with the effects of mental health and illness. I would like to say my experiences have lead me to become a positive and motivating leader, and I endeavour to create a uplifting/welcoming atmosphere for anyone I have the pleasure of working with.
Joining North Middlesex has been an incredible experience. I have met the most amazing leaders, who have allowed me to flourish, and use my skills to excel within my time here. I have been able to have insight into how the North Mid runs on an Operational and clinical level, and how each role within the trust, from the volunteer’s, Medirest staff, medical, nursing and Operational leaders, are all such an important cog in the wheel.
I would love someone to read my story, who is deliberating a change in career or to retrain in the NHS, and be inspired to do so. There are so many opportunities available at North Mid, and so many inspiring colleagues to give you direction and utilise your skills and talent. I am so grateful for all my managers & directors, who have believed in me and allowed me to thrive within my career at North Middlesex, and I hope to continue once graduated.
When hearing about the new #ThisIsMe diversity blog, I thought – what a brilliant way to experience and learn things from peers, that they have never encountered before. Diversity should be the challenge to learn from others, from all different walks of life. You learn so much more by being exposed to different perspectives and experiences from your own, and this blog enables that for North Mid as a community.