Meet someone who really deserves her gong in platinum honours list

(...but nurse awarded MBE bashfully insists Covid response was all a team effort)

Friday, 10th June — By Anna Lamche

Tina Jegede

Tina Jegede wants more people to think about working in social care

“IT’S a team effort!” a senior nurse said this week as she was awarded an MBE for her services to social care.

Tina Jegede, who has devoted more than a decade of her life to working in health and social care in the borough, was this week placed on the Queen’s platinum jubilee honours list.

But she insisted this week “there are so many people I work with who so deserve it too – for me it’s very much in recognition of the individuals I work with.”

Ms Jegede works with care homes and carers to oversee the quality of social care in the borough, also serving as Whittington Hospital’s equalities tsar.

She hopes her MBE will encourage “the general public to be mindful of [those] who work in social care” and “recognise what they’re contributing to society”.

“The height of the pandemic was very, very hard. When I talk about it, that’s when I remember what it was like,” she said.

“At the time you just get on with it, you get up early and you work from morning till night.”

Ms Jegede paid tribute to the care home staff she has worked alongside, who she said often went above and beyond their job descriptions.

“I wonder how many people know that a lot of the nurses and care home staff slept in. They did not go home [throughout the pandemic],” Ms Jegede said.

She recalls stories of nurses who rearranged their childcare in order to stay with distressed patients, and those who died while working on the front line.

Ms Jegede said she was “wowed” by staff in one care home, who continued to work even after losing two colleagues to the coronavirus.

Working in social care is “a wonderful opportunity,” Ms Jegede said, but better pay for nurses should be considered “in order for us to address the staffing crisis”.

She said: “The reality is, some people do struggle to live in London.”

The system needs people who are “compassionate and kind”, she added, and hopes her award will encourage people to take up health and social care as a serious career.

“This isn’t really about me,” she said.

Oliur Rahman handed out masks and gloves as he tried to protect vulnerable BAME residents from Covid

“There are some exciting opportunities working in social care and I would just say: my goodness, it’s been such a privilege going into this.”

Also on the Queen’s honours list was Oliur Rahman, who was awarded a BEM – British Empire Medal – for his voluntary work through­out the pandemic, attempting to combat Covid’s disproportionate effect on black and ethnic minority communities.

Mr Rahman, of Caledonian Road, worked in the security department of Charing Cross Hospital during the pandemic.

Having seen first-hand the devastation Covid wreaked, he spent every spare moment working to protect his community.

During lockdown, the Tribune documented the long hours Mr Rahman spent outside Islington tube stations and supermarkets handing out free masks and gloves, also helping to share information with people “who don’t speak a lot of English”.

“I wanted to help the BAME community with any language issues or concerns they have,” he said at the time.

Mr Rahman also worked with the council as a “health champion,” attending meetings and “feeding information back to my community to encourage them to follow the rules,” he said.

He was also a strong advocate of the Covid vaccine.

“I even made a video in Bengali so people could understand why they needed the vaccine,” he said.

“I feel really humbled and honoured to be on the Queen’s birthday honours list with a BEM.

“I’m grateful to the community and the journalists who covered my work, and I’d especially like to thank my wife, daughters and friends who inspired me.”

Even though Mr Rahman will now be heading to Buckingham Palace for tea, the award will not leave him resting on his laurels.

“I feel my respons­i­bility is now even more high. I will always encourage people to be positive, honest and helpful to others,” he said.

Islington’s health chief, Councillor Nurullah Turan, said: “Tina and Oliur both exemplify the spirit of ‘Islington Together’ – working hard through difficult times to keep our community safe and care for our vulnerable residents.”

He added: “I applaud them both for this royal recognition, which is richly deserved.”

Meanwhile a community group has been awarded one of the Queen’s most prestigious prizes for their work across the borough.

Octopus Communities, a group of 15 of Islington’s largest community centres, received a Queen’s Award for Voluntary Services over the jubilee weekend.

The group is one of 244 recipients to win the award across the country.

Octopus provides community food hubs, exercise classes and arts and culture workshops, as well as running a wide-ranging “urban growing” project.

The Queen’s Award is the highest honour a local voluntary group can receive in the UK, and is “equivalent to an MBE,” according to Buckingham Palace.

Colin Adams, the director of Brickworks Community Centre and Chair of Octopus, said this week: “What makes this award special is it’s a recognition of everybody who worked on the food hubs and through the pandemic.”

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