At the age of seven, Mariethel remembers the person who inspired her to become a nurse.
“It was my Godmother. As a girl I remember my Godmother in her immaculate white nurse’s uniform and cap,” she says.
“In the Philippines, if you’re a nurse you are also a midwife so everyone in our local community knew my Godmother. She made a big impression on me.”
Mariethel qualified as a nurse in 1993 and worked in the Philippines as an adult nurse before moving to the UK in 2002. She worked in NHS nursing roles gaining experience in general nursing, research and maternity.
“I love helping people when they need us,” says Mariethel “Being able to help people when they are in most need is the most rewarding thing about nursing. Patients are so grateful to you for the help you can give”
Mariethel joined a nursing agency and was enjoying her busy shifts until the Covid-19 pandemic hit the UK in March. Suddenly, she wasn’t needed and nursing shifts became unavailable. As in many places, hospitals in Mariethel’s area cancelled routine procedures and limited the amount of nursing staff on their wards. With fewer patients coming in to hospitals, there were fewer shifts for agency nurses.
Mariethel’s husband is also a nurse and works for a different agency but his shifts also suddenly stopped.
“I couldn’t work,” remembers Mariethel “we had no money coming in at all.”
“Emotionally, I was at my lowest. We have no family in the UK to rely on, it’s just my husband and I and our two daughters. We just didn’t expect this to happen. We went from both working busy shifts and earning money to nothing, overnight.”
“We were thinking where do we get money to buy food? How will we eat? It’s the most scary thing that has happened in my life. I was so anxious that my family said I was with them physically but emotionally I was somewhere else. I couldn’t sleep, Iwas awake worrying all the time.”
Mariethel’s husband qualified for furlough money from his agency but it was a small amount. Mariethel’s agency told her she couldn’t get furlough money but told her to contact Cavell Nurses’ Trust.
“When I made the application to Cavell I didn’t expect to get anything,” says Mariethel “but when I spoke to the staff they were so positive and helpful. They said they could grant us some money. I was so grateful. Cavell Nurses’ Trust are like angels!”
Cavell Nurses’ Trust was able to quickly get money to Mariethel enabling her family to pay bills and buy food.
“It was amazing! The money allowed us to stop worrying about food and we could prioritise which bills to pay. Getting this support has helped me 100%, I feel much more positive now.”
Mariethel was out of work for five and a half months but she and her husband are now picking up nursing shifts again.
“I really missed nursing and when people were clapping for NHS frontline workers during the pandemic, I felt sad because I couldn’t be part of it and participate in caring for Covid patients. But my first shift back was on a Covid ward so I felt I was finally able to be a part of the national effort to care for people.”
“As a nurse, you are always helping others so you never think that you will need help yourself. I’m so please and grateful that there is a charity out there dedicated to supporting nurses and other healthcare professionals.”
Mariethel has a message for anyone wanting to help support nurses, midwives and healthcare assistants facing a crisis,
“We all need to support each other,” she says “especially other nurses and healthcare professionals. If you can fundraise or donate that would be amazing. The impact on our lives has been huge.”