Next generation Windrush nurse celebrated at Florence Nightingale exhibition

One of the first nurses to become a Florence Nightingale Foundation Windrush Nurse will be featured in a special museum exhibition celebrating the famous nurse’ life.

Kendra Schneller, a Guy’s and St Thomas’ nurse, took part in the first ever Windrush Nurses and Midwives Leadership programme last year.

The programme supported 70 nurses and midwives from across the country who are either descendants of the Windrush generation or from a black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) background, to become future health leaders.

They received training to boost their leadership, confidence and public speaking skills. On completing the programme they are known as Florence Nightingale Foundation Windrush Nurses and Midwives.

Kendra was one of three nurses from Guy’s and St Thomas’ to become a Windrush Nurse. During the programme she received a best presentation award for her work encouraging homeless women to have cervical screening.

The scheme was launched by the Florence Nightingale Foundation and Health Education England to mark the 70th anniversary of the NHS. It also recognises the contribution of Windrush nurses and midwives since the arrival of HMT Empire Windrush in 1948.

The ship brought the first wave of Caribbean migrants to the UK. They and others who followed helped build the NHS and continue to play a crucial role, with one in five of the NHS workforce coming from a BAME background.

Kendra said: “I’m delighted to be one of the first Florence Nightingale Windrush Nurses in the country. It was a really amazing experience and it was fantastic to meet so many talented nurses and midwives. I feel really inspired by them and my confidence has been given a real boost.

“I think it’s really important that we recognise and celebrate the contribution of the Windrush generation, which includes my own family. They helped to build our country and were vital to the NHS.”

As part of her role as a Florence Nightingale Foundation Windrush nurse, Kendra was nominated by the organisation to feature in an exhibition at the Florence Nightingale Museum about the famous nurse’s life.

It will showcase 200 objects relating to Florence Nightingale including her lamp, medicine box and an audio recording of her voice. Kendra will be a modern example of Florence Nightingale’s legacy. A photo of her and an explanation of her role will be on display.

Kendra said: “It’s a real honour to be part of the Florence Nightingale exhibition. She is a huge inspiration to me and is one of the reasons why I got into nursing.

“I’ve worked as a nurse at Guy’s and St Thomas’ for more than 10 years supporting patients experiencing homelessness. Our team also provide health checks to people sleeping rough on our streets in Lambeth and Southwark.

“We give advice on how to look after long-term conditions such as hepatitis C and kidney disease. We also provide vaccinations, look after wounds, screen for diseases and give medication. I want people who are homeless to know they are entitled to the same health services as everyone else.”

Dame Eileen Sills, Chief Nurse at Guy’s and St Thomas’, said: “We are extremely proud of Kendra. She is a really fantastic nurse and has made a huge contribution to our Trust and to patients’ lives.

“Kendra is a great example of Florence Nightingale’s legacy of delivering high quality, compassionate care, so it’s very fitting that she has been chosen to take part in an exhibition celebrating her life.”

Greta Westwood, Chief Executive of the Florence Nightingale Foundation, said: “It is fantastic to see Kendra celebrated in such a wonderful way and to see Florence Nightingale’s legacy continue through scholars like her.

“Kendra is an exceptional nurse and we are so proud of her and all that she has achieved through our Windrush Leadership Programme. She has applied her learnings to the very people that count – her patients. Her compassion and dedication to nursing shines through all that she does to help others.”

David Green, director of the Florence Nightingale Museum, said: “We are delighted to be able to shed light upon the inspiring work done by Kendra Schneller as part of our exhibition celebrating Florence Nightingale’s bicentenary. Our visitors are always fascinated to hear about modern day nursing roles that have developed as part of Nightingale’s legacy. We are always proud to celebrate our historic and special relationship with Guy’s and St Thomas’, and Kendra’s work is certainly something Florence Nightingale would feel very proud to have helped inspire.”

The exhibition also includes an NHS rainbow badge, launched by Guy’s and St Thomas’ to show support to its lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender staff and patients. The Trust’s Nightingale Nurse Award badge, given to its outstanding nurses and midwifes, is also on display.

Nurses from Guy’s and St Thomas’ have also taken part in a special exhibition at the Florence Nightingale Museum to inspire children to consider a career in nursing. The exhibition features nurses explaining what they like most about their jobs.

This year marks the 200th anniversary of Florence Nightingale’s birth and the World Health Organisation has declared it the International Year of the Nurse and the Midwife in her honour.

Florence Nightingale set up her first nursing school at St Thomas’ Hospital in 1860, establishing Guy’s and St Thomas’ as the home of modern nursing.

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