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Posted on Feb 27 2023 by Fiona Bailey

A “career ambition” has been achieved by a young woman from Belize who ploughed hundreds of pounds into travelling to the UK to get a nursing job, leaving her family and friends behind.

Cynthia Kalu decided she wanted to gain vital experience working in a different country and within a month had booked a flight and applied for a job at the mental health charity St Andrew’s Healthcare by ringing the recruitment team.

The 25-year-old said: “My uncle, who is a Healthcare Assistant at the hospital in Northampton, had told me what a great place it was to work. I have always dreamed of working in the UK, but it had never been the right time. But when my uncle told me about St Andrew’s everything had just aligned.”

Unlike the other international nurses who started working at the mental health charity via a recruitment agency, Cynthia secured her role completely by herself, self-funding the entire trip and overseeing all her legal documents for working overseas.

Cynthia said: “Moving country is hard work. Not only did I have to pack up my entire life, but I also had a lot of paperwork to complete so I could legally work abroad. I did it all by myself, which I’m pretty proud of. It ended up costing me a lot, but I was absolutely determined to achieve my career ambition.”

Now based within St Andrew’s Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) service on Seacole ward, Cynthia has settled well, but admits she began feeling homesick soon after she arrived in the country.

She said: “I wasn’t scared about coming over, I was just focussed on ticking everything off on my to do list. It was only once I had been here for a week when the emotions kicked in and the magnitude of what I had done hit home. I had left my mum, my brother, all my friends and my job to come to the UK and start a new job at St Andrew’s.

“But, I felt so welcome. My team at work are almost like family and they’ve taken me under their wing. The work is so fulfilling and no matter how challenging my day is, I feel so good about what I am doing. I’m very happy and appreciative to be here, helping people to get better. I want to make a difference.”

Dale Goodacre, Head of Nursing at CAMHS at St Andrew’s Healthcare, said: “Cynthia is a big ball of positivity. How quickly we have become accustomed to her huge smile which lights up the ward. Belize’s loss has been a huge gain for us here and we’re just thrilled to have her working as part of our team.

“She may only have been here a few months but she’s already made a huge impact with our patients. She is a warm, generous and caring person who has already shown how committed she is to her work by leaving her home country and coming to work here by herself.”

Cynthia now has more plans which involves getting a Masters degree in nursing.