Black History Month takes place every October. Black members of SASH staff are taking part by sharing their case studies.
Vernia Mengot, eSASH communications manager
What is your name and your role?
My name is Vernia Mengot and I am the communications manager for eSASH, the programme of work around developing our electronic patient record. I am also the communications lead for the cultural inclusion champions staff network.
Why did you join the NHS?
I joined the NHS having worked in private healthcare in my previous roles and wanting to progress my career within the public sector. I am surrounded by friends and family who work within the public sector, particularly in the NHS and my late mother had an extensive 30-year career in nursing for multiple Trusts, within the community and even overseas.
I had always been inspired to work within healthcare, albeit not as a clinician, typically as a nurse or doctor which is often the norm in my culture but being able to combine my passion for journalism (what I studied at university), marketing and engagement to become an NHS communicator has been amazing!
Tell us about your NHS journey
I initially joined the NHS in 2016 to work in recruitment and resourcing. I love working with people and after studying at university, I went on to study human resources and completed my level 5 CIPD. I found working as a recruitment coordinator very rewarding, particularly overseeing the employment process of new recruits from start to finish – I was always pleased to see new joiners at SASH and the excitement they had to be part of our One Team.
After my stint in recruitment, I was successfully promoted into a role in communications – a chance to put my degree to use in healthcare! I have been working in communications for over five years and have been involved in a number of exciting campaigns, events and milestones.
My involvement with the CICSN started after I joined the former BAME network in 2018. The steering group welcomed me as the comms lead and I have since gone on to support a number of initiatives to help promote cultural inclusion and diversity.
Describe your proudest moment (work or otherwise)
Becoming a magazine editor at the age of 21! Even though the pay didn’t match the title, it was the most exciting work experience I have had to date. I was fresh out of uni, I met so many people, attended some fabulous events and had the chance to interview celebrities, including; famous actors, comedians and musicians within the African Caribbean community across the globe.
What does Black history month mean to you?
Even though Black history should be celebrated all year round, it’s a time to shout about being black! I am black and I am proud, I love my melanin, culture and heritage. Africans and Caribbean’s have contributed so much all over the world and it’s a time to celebrate, acknowledge and reflect.
What makes you proud of your culture and heritage?
Every time I think about how much black people have overcome, I feel proud and although there is still so much to be done to address inequalities, disparities and injustice – I am proud to have witnessed a wave of change, no matter the size.
What is one thing from your culture/heritage that you cannot live without?
The food! My parents are from West Africa, Sierra Leone and Cameroon. I have my favourites across the continent but I wouldn’t know how to live without my ‘Saturday Plasas’ which covers a range of dishes containing ingredients like potato leaves, cassava, okra and egusi, and is typically eaten on the weekend.