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News > Alumni Stories > Yenita Singer (Class of 2012)

Yenita Singer (Class of 2012)

Meet Old Girl, Yenita, a Learning Disability Nurse who has set up her own charity, Bright Eye Organisation. Learn more about her career path and why she set up the charity.

Please describe your journey since leaving BGS and how you progressed to your most recent/current position.

On leaving BGS I studied a Psychology undergraduate at Bangor University with a view to eventually becoming an educational psychologist. During my undergraduate, I spent a summer in the US working in a summer camp for people with intellectual disabilities. This was a population group that I had never been involved with before, doing work that I had never experienced, and I realised that there were many career options that I had never even considered. Nursing had never been something that I had any interest in pursuing, but the idea gradually grew following my experience in the summer camp and a job as a support worker after graduating.

I returned to Bangor University to study Learning Disability Nursing in 2016 and started travelling to Kenya on volunteer trips as part of my placement in 2018. Qualifying as an RNLD in 2019, I got a job in a learning disability inpatients treatment and assessment unit. The volunteer projects in Kenya continued, fundraising for things such as a water filter to provide clean drinking water and a wheelchair with a third wheel so that people could travel outside of the centre on the unpaved roads and paths. I recruited some trustees to start Bright Eye Organisation (BEO) with the view to being an organisation for charitable purposes, rather than one person trying to help. Bright Eye Organisation aim to support people with disabilities in Kenya to access health and education services. Unfortunately, due to the pandemic and work commitments, I was then unable to visit Kenya for a number of years, but involvement and support continued virtually.

I returned to Manchester in 2020, starting work in neurorehabilitation and joined the adult nursing register in 2023. I am currently working on a neurosurgical ward, caring for people pre and post-surgery.

I also recently returned from a long overdue visit to Kenya, for Bright Eye Organisation, where we were able to get an update on the individuals we support there and deliver projects such as first aid training, dental check-ups and nutritional assessments, among other things.

Which/What skills do you consider to be essential for your job?

Approachability, communication and thinking outside the box. It is essential that people feel at ease talking to you when they may be experiencing something life changing and need to feel listened to, understood and able to ask questions. Or in the case of other staff members, feeling as though they have someone to talk to on the ward, ask advice, or even take a minute away from a high emotion situation.

Communication is absolute key to a smooth patient journey. There are a number of professionals involved in each patients’ care, speciality doctors, carers, nursing staff, therapists, as well as the patient, potentially relatives, social workers, depending on the situation. Sometimes this can be challenging especially if there are a lot of people involved in decision making, if the patient is very confused or the situation carries strong emotions. The same value of communication applies to the voluntary work in Kenya. As I am not able to always be there, strong communication becomes even more important to ensuring that appropriate support and services are provided when needed, for example, if someone becomes unwell and we are not aware, then we are unable to support them in getting the doctor out to review them.

Working with people with learning disabilities, particularly in Kenya can be challenging at times, there are a lot of language barriers, and cultural and environmental barriers that we come across, like the availability of resources, roads and public transport, droughts and floods and differing expectations.

What do you like most about your job?

Undoubtably, the best part of my job is seeing process. Often people think this is when a patient who was bed bound walks out of the hospital, and yes this is amazing. But progress comes in many forms. In the hospital it may be having pain better controlled, having a shower, feeding themselves or recognising where they are. In BEO it could be having clean drinking water, three meals a day, increased weight, improving dexterity in playing with building blocks. Above all, knowing that they have somewhere safe to live, that they are understood and well looked after makes everything else we do worthwhile.

What do you consider to be your greatest professional achievement?

Bright Eye Organisation is what I am most proud of. I accept that there is a lot of work still to be done in developing it into a successful, charitable organisation, but looking back at where the people we support were when I first went to Kenya in comparison to the situation now, the progress is amazing. I love when people ask how I got involved or how the organisation started, because there were big challenges along the way, but each time we have grown, with a view to learning and always improving. Now there is a vision of building a special needs boarding school, where the children can get daily education, therapy, and vocational training wherever suitable. This most recent vision is still in the early planning stages, but still very exciting and a great way to progress.

What is the most challenging period of your career?

The first year was definitely the most challenging time of my career. A few months after qualifying, covid hit the UK, the hospital I was working at became a red zone and no-one knew where to turn for advice and support. For safety reasons I moved in with my colleagues to an air BnB, isolating ourselves from anyone not working in the hospital and work rapidly became our entire life. Shortly after this, there were some issues with corrupt management at the centre in Kenya and the government had plans to shut it down. I was unable to visit due to travel restrictions and the pandemic, so could only really offer support via video calls. There were residents that had nowhere to go and with some emergency fundraising we were able to provide some of them with somewhere safe to live and staff to support them on a temporary basis.

What advice would you give to our alumni starting their first steps in their career journey?

Be prepared for the unexpected. Have the confidence to try something completely different and meet people from different walks of life. When I left BGS, my mind was set on my career path as an educational psychologist and the exact steps needed to get me there. I was not open to even the suggestion of anything else, but working at the summer camp, something completely unexpected for both me and my family, I realised how closed my mind had been. If someone had told me 10 years ago that I would be nursing in neurosurgery and running an organisation to support people with disabilities in Kenya to access healthcare, I would never have believed them. But then I didn’t believe Mrs Georghiou on results day when she told me that I had go into university either!!

Please click here for more information about Yenita's charity.





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