Almira Basso Northern HSC Trust
I arrived at Belfast International Airport on 6th December 2002, and after a warm welcome and dinner, I was shown to the nurses accommodation, where I lived for three years - it was clean, warm, comfortable, affordable and only a few minutes’ walk from the hospital (no travelling expenses!).
The biggest challenge was homesickness, but I now have internet access and can chat to family via the web.
Antrim is a family orientated town with all amenities that anyone would need, including an outlet shopping centre! I feel very welcome and part of the community. There are also many beautiful walks and it is close to the famous North Antrim coast.
Schools in Northern Ireland offer a high standard of education and extra-curricular activities and my son attends St Comgall’s Primary School. Also, there are many different churches and we easily found one that allowed us to freely practice our faith.
Both hospital and GP care are free - including care dental for children and our prescriptions. Public hospital care is of a high standard and resourced to meet all your family’s medical needs.
Both Belfast International and Belfast City airports are near Antrim. Belfast is 20 minutes drive away and Dublin only 2 hours. Generally, the cost of living is more reasonable than the rest of the UK but the standard is the same.
I now work as an Assistant Clinical Sister and I had wonderful mentors when I first started. Both managers and colleagues have supported me throughout my nursing career, and I have had the opportunity to continually develop.
Northern Ireland is now our second home, and I would truly recommend it both from a personal and professional perspective.
Geraldine Tinto Belfast HSC Trust
I arrived in Northern Ireland with 96 other nurses from the Philippines, the majority of us coming from the island of Mindanao.
It was my first time this far away from home, and I had no experience of being in a different country or working anywhere else.
The Royal Victoria Hospital recruitment team made my transition an easy one. They made us feel at home and have continued to reassure us from the start.
It is a privilege for me to work with this multi-disciplinary team and in such a professional manner. I still enjoy living here after 14 years.
At Altnagelvin, I work in a welcoming and supportive environment and have the chance to work with people from diverse backgrounds. There are plenty of colleagues from countries like India, China, Iran, Nepal, Pakistan, Sudan, Poland, Spain, Lithuania, Greece, Great Britain and more.
Protocols, standards and policies to guide me in my practice are readily available in the office and intranet and much more just a phone call away to a relevant office if unsure. Mandatory training is funded by the hospital to keep the staff updated. There is a practice educator who keeps track of our training needs. Altnagelvin is a teaching hospital that has direct links with three Universities.
The working week is 37 ½ hours, which is shorter compared to back home and the times are flexible and family friendly. I work 4 days a week and I have 3 days off for myself and my family. Annual leave is very generous and I am able to go home every year to see my family to combat the feeling of homesickness. I also earn a lot more working here because of the exchange rate, so I’m able to provide better for the needs of both my immediate and extended family.
The main thing I noticed between Filipinos and the people of Northern Ireland is that we both have strong family ties. My colleagues know the names of my husband (and how good his cooking is!), my three children, and the names of my mother, sister and two brothers back home. People ask how you are and smile at you in the streets even if you don’t know them.
I know not everything goes well in real life, there are ups and downs. But I get my strength from my family and my work colleagues. There are forms of social media that I can access to communicate with my relatives back home. And much more there is a charity organisation called Kabalikat (pronounced as ka-ba-leek-at), which, in Filipino, means solidarity, arms in arms, “you’ll never be alone”).
The organisation is comprised of Filipino community, representing the Filipino migrants and their families to promote Filipino culture and in turn work with the statutory agencies to help resolve issues of its members and promote integration within its members and with the wider communities. There are around 130 members so far. I have founded this organisation with seven other individuals and it is entirely a voluntary organisation to give support to the growing Filipino migrant community in the North West.
Originally from Makilala, Cotabato, Philippines I commenced my nurse training in 1992 in San Pedro College Davao City and gained my Bachelor of Science and nursing degree in 1996. I successfully passed the nursing licensure examination provided by the Philippine regulation commission in 1997 and applied for a post as a Registered Nurse in a local hospital (Madonna General Hospital). In September 1998, I moved back to Davao City with my husband and daughter and took a post in a general medical ward in San Pedro Hospital.
An opportunity arose in 2002 to apply outside of the Philippines to work as a registered nurse in Northern Ireland and I was offered an interview in September 2002. I was absolutely delighted to hear that I was successful and left the Philippines in November 2002 to embrace my new life in Northern Ireland. It was with a heavy heart that I left the Philippines as I had to leave behind my husband of five years and my five year old daughter.
Coming to work in the opposite side of the world is a big challenge. One of the challenges we face is the communication. Even though English is our second language, it can be difficult to understand the way local people pronounce the words! But as the years go on, we learn it and we become part of the community.
I started my adaptation in the Stroke Unit at Lurgan Hospital for 3 months. In March 2003, I got my NMC pin and transferred to Medical Admission Unit. I was one of the first staff to open the new unit. I have been working in the unit as a staff nurse for 12 years and was promoted to the Clinical Sister post in February 2015.
I have developed excellent skills, knowledge and confidence through my experience in the Acute care setting and have enhanced my management skills. From November 2015, I became part of the Patient Flow/Clinical Coordinator team. Now, I have three children and my two boys were born here in Northern Ireland. It has been a great privilege to work here in Craigavon Hospital; it has given me the opportunity to grow and I’m very happy to be here.