Erica became a trustee of Emmaus Hull & East Riding in February 2021 and brings a wealth of experience and knowledge after 39 years in the NHS.

I’ve had a long career in health and care services. I started off as a nurse working in learning disability services. I then progressed throughout different aspects of health and social care including work in Mental Health and Acute Hospital Services. I’ve worked in both operational and commissioning roles and always had an interest in working with vulnerable people; looking to improve outcomes and address health inequalities. That has always been a particular interest to me and even more so now that the recent pandemic has highlighted the need to bring more focus to support people who are already disadvantaged.

How did you first get involved in EHER?

I have been aware of Emmaus through my work at Hull CCG. Emmaus have been a key partner in some of the community and voluntary sector work that we’ve done. Then more recently I was approached by one of our CCG members of staff who said that Emmaus were looking for another trustee and would I be interested? So, I did my own research into the history of Emmaus and the national organisation. I didn’t realise how relatively new it was in terms of the Hull and East Riding community. The principals and the concept of supporting people to get back on their feet with a holistic approach is a philosophy I’ve always bought in to throughout my career. Whether it’s been working with people with a learning disability, more deprived communities or frail older people; ultimately poor health comes from not having addressed those broader, wider issues. If you can address the non-health issues such as people’s wellbeing and a sense of purpose, then they may not need additional health care.

I was looking to broaden my own experience too and wanted to explore working in the voluntary and community sector, so everything tied in and the timing felt right to get more actively involved

Have you been a trustee before?

Being a trustee is entirely new to me. Before I started my career in nursing, I did work in the voluntary sector to test out what area of nursing I wanted to start my career in. But apart from being in a commissioning role, that’s my only other real experience of the voluntary and charitable sector. The Trustee role is also a learning opportunity for me and a chance to see how I could use some of the skills I have developed in a different area.

Covid has affected my role of being a trustee so far because I would have liked to get out and do some of the outreach work. Had there not been any restrictions, I would have certainly have wanted to shadow some people in the organisation. I’ve only had one board meeting so far so have only met my fellow trustees and Chair virtually. But I am looking forward to being able to meet everyone in the coming months. I would like to spend some time talking to some of the companions so I can get a better sense of what I can offer them and the organisation.

Do you have anything else you want to share?

Covid has further exposed the inequalities that already exist in our social system. However, a positive is that this means inequality has been raised on the agenda of policy makers. The ‘Everybody in’ scheme has really highlighted the issue of homelessness and the importance of working together as communities. Despite the hardship of this pandemic, there is still something to be gained and as a result the needs of marginalised people remain high on the priority list. We really can optimise the work and role of communities to make sure we don’t lose some of the positives that have come out of a year of thinking and working differently and I hope I can contribute to this in my new role at Emmaus.