Kali's story

Whilst studying Health and Social Care, Kali got to know a class of adults with learning disabilities at her college. After spending time with them she realised she wanted to become a Learning Disability Nurse.

Eighteen years into her nursing career and Kali is now a Mental Health Nursing Team Manager at HMP Holme House and HMP Kirklevington Grange.

Kali and her team are employed by the Tees, Esk & Wear Valleys NHS Foundation Trust.

“I adore this job and I adore my team,” says Kali “I wake up in the morning and can’t wait to get to work!”

Kali’s content with her life at the moment, but a few years ago tragedy struck her family. She had moved to New Zealand in her early twenties and was working in mental health and learning disability nursing, developing a new inpatient ward service helping vulnerable people who had spent time in prison. She met and fell in love with the man who became father to her two boys, he was a close colleague of Kali’s. But shortly after their second son was born, Kali’s partner was killed in a car accident.

“My life was turned upside down,” Kali remembers “I had to deal with the grief as well as the court case because the other person in the accident had fallen asleep at the wheel of their car. That’s what had killed my partner.”

Kali was left on her own with a 7 year old and a young baby, the rest of her family were on the other side of the planet. So she decided to return to the UK.

“When I left the UK aged 25 I had nothing but a two suitcases. I returned 10 years later, with nothing but two suitcases and two children.”

Kali had to find work so quickly picked up a job as a staff nurse in Sunderland. One day she saw an email about a manager’s job going at the local prison. She applied and was offered the position of Mental Health Team Manager for HMP Holme House and HMP Kirklevington Grange.

“My new managers warned me that this wasn’t an easy job to walk into, but I do like a challenge! Mental health nursing in prisons is tough and the team had taken some hard knocks, so I had my work cut out. I knew I had to stand up for the team and support them in their work.”

Kali was nominated by her team for a Cavell Star Award for going above and beyond for her colleagues. Clinical Lead and team mate Leighann Fishpool explains,

“Since taking on the role as team manager, Kali has made a huge difference. She has a fantastic personable, engaging and motivating personality that makes you want to achieve. Kali leads from the front and constantly champions our team and mental health services within the prison, raising our profile and never shying away from what can be quite a difficult clientele to engage.

“With Kali's hands on approach, the team feels well lead, cohesive and resilient. This ultimately has a positive impact on patient care and outcomes. We truly appreciate all the hard work, effort and time that she puts into our team. I can’t believe how lucky we are to have her.”

Kali reacted to winning her Cavell Star Award.

“It was the most amazing feeling! It was very emotional, we all cried because it means so much to me and the rest of the team. I’m not very good at recognising when I’ve done a good job so this was a massive boost to all of us.

“My nursing team means everything to me. They are like my family and best friends rolled into one. We work in a difficult environment at times, but they inspire me every day.”

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