Portuguese nurse wins top UK care work award

Portuguese nurse wins top UK care work award
By Joao Duarte Ferreira
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Care home manager Silvia Nunes loves her work in England. But since the Brexit vote fewer European professionals are coming to the UK.


Moving country in search of opportunities abroad is never an easy decision.

From the language barrier to a new social environment, the challenges can be daunting. But sheer determination can really make a difference.

Silvia Nunes moved from Portugal to Britain in 2014 to work in nursing. Five years on, her work has been recognised with a major award in nursing care.

“I didn’t have work in Portugal at all, or even a job. I just work every single day with my heart and passion, I love my job and that is what I’ve done.”

Silvia is deputy manager at a care home in Thetford, Norfolk, 130 kilometres northeast of London. Her efforts were rewarded with a national prize in the Great British Care Awards.

“I was very surprised to be nominated for this award, but I was very happy when I won. I didn’t know whether to cry or laugh, because I was not expecting to win this award. But I was really proud to see my face and my name announced.”

Commenting on her achievement in winning the Good Nurse Award, the organisers said “Silvia represents the very best in nursing in a care home setting. She is innovative, creative, passionate and goes the extra mile for residents, their families and her staff.”

Silvia’s prize takes place against the backdrop of Brexit. Like many other Europeans who live and work in the UK, Silvia moved here under freedom of movement – a founding principle of the European Union, which will end in the UK after the country leaves.

“Brexit is not affecting me at this point. I’m very happy with my work, my friends, my colleagues, my family. I come to work every day very happy, and I’m very happy to live in England.”

Since the EU referendum in 2016, the number of qualified European professionals coming to work in the UK has dropped. Silvia says she knows some people who have returned to Portugal, and others who are waiting to see what happens.

She does not rule out a return home for herself in the future.

“I want to believe that one day, Portugal will have a space for me, and all my knowledge that I have acquired in this country.”

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