Inspirational former homeless Christie worker honoured

Press release posted 17 June 2019

A Christie worker who was homeless for 20 months has been honoured at the Trust’s annual staff awards.

Clerical officer Paul Kamara won the ‘Learner of the year’ award after he demonstrated his will to succeed having joined the Trust as a volunteer in October 2018.

Paul, 42, had been without a home since losing his job in security at Manchester Airport in 2016, but managed to gain a position as a clerical officer at the Trust after taking a four week course at Trafford College in health and social care.

Paul Kamara received his award from former Coronation Street star, Victoria Ekanoye

He is now working with the clinical oncology team helping to process patient appointments and provide clinical notes.

Having received his award from former Coronation Street star, Victoria Ekanoye at the awards night, Paul, who lives in temporary accommodation in Gorton, said: “I am extremely honoured to receive the award and hope it shows how hard work and a willingness to learn can pay off.

“After I lost my job I lost my house and lived on the streets. I am extremely proud to get this award as it shows how far I have come and I hope my story can inspire others who find themselves on the streets that they can turn their life around.

“I want to say a huge thankyou to The Christie for helping and believing in me, especially to Jan Broomhead and Kim Jonessimmonds.”

Also honoured were senior healthcare assistants, Tony McKenzie and Danny Lee who both received the ‘exceptional standards of quality and care’ award at the specialist cancer centre’s annual staff awards.

Their work in setting up four phlebotomy clinics across Greater Manchester has meant that hundreds of Christie patients can have blood taken closer to home rather than having to come to the hospital.

Initially set up as a trial, thanks to the work of Tony, Danny and the team, patients in Winsford, Bolton, Bury and Oldham can all now have regular blood tests in their own communities, allowing them to save time and the stress of travelling in to Manchester.

Nearly 300 staff were nominated for accolades at a special staff awards event hosted by former Coronation Street star Victoria Ekanoye, as well as the Chief executive of The Christie, Roger Spencer and Chair, Christine Outram who was recently honoured herself with an MBE.

Other accolades included the ‘Innovation and improvement’ award, which was given to financial systems manager Simon Colebrook and HR operational service lead, Richard Wilkinson, for their work on improving how the Trust recruits staff.

The Christie switchboard team was also honoured in the ‘behind the scenes’ category while senior sister, Aislinn Giles was given the ‘rising star’ accolade for her work on the oncology assessment unit ward.

The ‘contribution to research’ award was given to research and development manager Lifen Wang who has worked at The Christie for over 20 years, while the positive working relationships team won the ‘partnership working’ award.

Porter, Michael Hoyland was given the ‘Christie values’ award for his outstanding commitment to caring for patients.

Consultant endocrinologist Dr Claire Higham and Macmillan network survivorship manager, Ben Heyworth, were given the ‘contribution to education’ award for their work in developing The Christie’s living beyond cancer project.

Roger Spencer, Chief Executive at The Christie, said: “Paul is a true inspiration and we are delighted to have him as part of The Christie team. He has proven that through dedication and hard work you can achieve great things and it was fantastic to see him receive his award.

“The staff awards are all about celebrating the dedication and innovation shown to our patients by staff and it is important to recognise that.

“All our winners should be very proud of their efforts and their willingness to put patient care at the centre of everything we do.”

The Christie NHS Foundation Trust was the first specialist trust to be rated as ‘Outstanding’ twice (in 2016 and 2018) by the health regulator the Care Quality Commission (CQC). It referred to The Christie as ‘a leader in cancer care’ and ‘a pioneer in developing innovative solutions to cancer care.’ 

The CQC praised the Trust’s staff which it said ‘go the extra mile to meet the needs of patients and their families’ and that they were ‘exceptionally kind and caring.’ In 2017, the CQC rated The Christie as the best specialist trust in the country, and one of the top three trusts overall in England.