Kristine Brayford-West: Keelite of the Month January 2015
How did you get to where you are now?
Wow… my career has been quite a journey. I have been very fortunate to nurse children and adults and support them through harrowing times in their lives.
I qualified in 1985 as a Registered General Nurse at University Hospital North Staffs, working as a Staff Nurse on an Acute Medical ward. My resuscitation skills were soon highly developed, due to the almost daily cardiac arrests that occurred on that ward. This was an area for acutely ill gentlemen and it was a difficult time for families who were worried about their loved ones. Part of my role was not only to support the families, but also to help with the nursing and medical team, to nurse the patients back to a healthy life. In 1987 I qualified as a Registered Midwife… my dream had come true! I had the absolute honour of bringing hundreds and hundreds of babies into our world. My midwifery years were very happy and I delivered most of my friends’ babies and became a very proud Mum myself to my two great sons, Josh and Max.
In 1997, I completed a Diploma in Midwifery at Keele University - my first taste of Keele. I was the Link Midwife for substance misusing pregnant women and this kick-started my passion to safeguard children. I worked part-time locally as a Community Midwifery Sister and also as a Practice Nurse and Smoking Cessation Coordinator. In September 2001 I began a Specialist Nursing Practice Degree, Health Visiting and Nurse Prescriber course…what a shock to the system this course was! Life was intense for the next 12 months. Thanks to my fabulous family and parents I was able to complete the course. I recall the only day I did not study was Christmas Day; and even my ironing became an ‘exciting break from studying’. I was very excited to become a Named Health Visitor for homeless teenage mothers and I was able to help them look after their new babies until they were ready for school. My role also incorporated working with domestic abuse, substance misuse and child abuse, and this further increased my knowledge and skills in the safeguarding arena.
In 2008 I was offered the role of implementing the safeguarding children service at South Staffordshire and Shropshire Healthcare Foundation Trust and I became an Approved Safeguarding Children trainer. During this time I also commenced my MA at Keele University: this qualification is fundamental for Specialist Professionals working in child protection and safeguarding.
Keele University was the place to study, no question, and this was reflected in the calibre of students who enrolled and travelled from all over the country. The course was demanding, intense, hard work, interesting and at times exciting. My personal Tutor Kelvin Johnson was amazing - always calm and reassuring and he empowered me to believe that I could do it. Working full-time and running a family home made me think maybe not… but he proved me wrong! Thank you, Kelvin.
In 2012 I joined Shropshire Community Health Trust as Named Nurse for Safeguarding Children. It was here that I developed my interest in Child Sexual Exploitation. This prompted my research into Child Sexual Exploitation and looked after Children. During my MA study at Keele University I was also promoted on two occasions, so it was quite a busy two years for me!
I am now living in Devon. My life plan had been to retire by the sea, however the role of Lead for Safeguarding Children and Young People was advertised, I applied, was successful and my life plans of moving to Devon arrived sooner than anticipated - but no plans of retirement as yet! The safeguarding children team I work with is incredible. I also have the role of Vice Chair for the North Devon Missing and Child Sexual Exploitation forum.
What are your ambitions now?
To continue to develop my knowledge and skills in the child sexual exploitation arena. I will continue to highlight this harrowing form of child abuse so that children and young people can be protected.
What advice would you give to someone wanting to work in a similar field?
If someone wants to work in the safeguarding children arena they must feel passionate about it and have a real interest. It can be incredibly challenging, stressful and heart wrenching. Gather life experience and also contact your local Named Nurse for Safeguarding Children and spend time finding out about the role.
What made you choose Keele University?
I completed my Diploma in Midwifery at Keele in 1997, so I already had good personal experiences and memories. Keele was highly recommended to me for the MA in Child Care Law and Practice course - and rightly so!
What kind of a student were you?
A bit of a Geek – ha ha - which is so Not Me! I was passionate, interested and really wanted to achieve a qualification in an arena where I had deep knowledge and interest. I was a hardworking and keen student and all the hard work certainly paid off as I was awarded a Merit.
How has Keele influenced your life?
It enabled me to achieve a qualification that I wanted, and it made me realise that goals and dreams are achievable if you are willing to work hard.
What is your favourite memory of Keele?
The grounds are beautiful, and my tutor Kelvin Johnson, and the friends that I made.
What is your impression of Keele now?
THE place to study!