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For International Women’s Day this year, we would like to pay tribute to the incredible role women have had and continue to have in shaping Ashgate Hospice. We asked colleagues to nominate who at the hospice inspires them – and we’ve asked nominees their thoughts on life as a woman in hospice care.
Here our Head of Supportive Care, Arlene Honeyman, discusses the hospice’s pride in embracing equality for all and why she’s inspired by so many of her colleagues at the charity.
What is your job role, what does it entail and what do you love about working at the hospice?
My role at the hospice is Head of the Supportive Care service. I lead and oversee several teams of talented specialist professionals who provide care and support to people with a specialist palliative care need, those who are close to them and those who are bereaved.
Our work varies from day-to-day but is always focused on empowering people to experience the best they possibly can from life in any given situation, not always an easy ask but the teams are amazing at how they do this.
My role is simply to support these teams to be the best they can be and ensure they are connected and their offer compliments those of the wider internal and external system surrounding the individual, their family and community. I love my work as I am surrounded by such ‘can-do’ people, and I feel passionate about empowering people to have the best life and best death they can.
I do have a second role at the hospice, and I am equally passionate about this one! I am one of the two Freedom to Speak up Guardians and it is an honour to support people when they are unsure what to do next about any concern they have in the workplace. I have met some very brave people and I am proud of each one for standing up and speaking up.
What makes you proud to be a woman working for Ashgate Hospice?
I am surrounded by talented women at all levels in this organisation. I am proud to be one of them and have learned so much from every one of them no matter what role. I love the way men and women work so well together in this place, there is a true sense of embracing the individual for the unique and precious resource they truly are. To me, this is a place that is intentionally embracing and pursuing a sense of equality for all, no small ambition. I am proud to play a small part in this.
What inspired you to follow your chosen career?
I have worked towards this role throughout my professional life, without realising this was where I was headed. I started out training as a community development worker, then moved to become a social worker then trained in counselling and relationship therapy. Opportunities to undertake management training, leadership training and focussed child development and safeguarding came my way at the right time and guided me to hone my skills over the years. I have always followed my passion, and this has led me to this place and this amazing opportunity. I have a deep belief in people and that each one is capable of amazing and positive things in this world given the right conditions and environment in which to flourish.
How does it feel to know your colleagues are inspired by you? And is there anyone at the hospice that inspires you?
This is a truly humbling experience. I am inspired by so many people at the hospice, each person I meet offers me something to learn and this helps me grow as a person. I do not say this lightly as sometimes lessons can be hard, but I am grateful for each one.
What woman inspires you most and why?
Oh, so many to choose from… I think that if you asked me to respond every day, I could choose a different woman but today it is Mo Mowlam, the late MP and Northern Ireland Secretary. I have a friend who is very like Mo; she has been by my side at some of the most difficult times in my life as well as some of the funniest. These women remain standing and hold firmly on to humanity in tempests and I love them for it.
“Arlene has boundless energy and positivity about the services she oversees and Ashgate as a whole. She always seems to make time to support those around her – both staff and patients. Her ability to think out of the box and make her limited budget go further has meant that the supportive care team is unrecognisable from the service she took over almost six years ago.
“She brings a ray of sunshine to any gloomy day, and I am so proud to have her as part of our team.”