A Polish nurse Marzenna Kazimierkiewicz has recently been awarded a title of the ‘Employee of the month’ by the NHS run West End Donor Centre, the busiest donor centre in Europe. The centre collects almost 60 thousand units of blood annually, more than two of the largest blood collection centres in Germany and France. West End Donor Centre is the place where the #polishblood campaign commences every year.
Nel Badowska, a British Poles reporter, talks to Marzenna.
BP: We have noticed you wear a badge ‘Employee of the month’. Please, tell us more about it. Who awards this kind of distinction?
MK: NHS management awards the badge, however, they take into account fellow employees’ votes as well. I am deeply touched and surprised this month’s badge was granted to me. An employee can obtain the badge for good work and in particular for successful recruitment of bone marrow or platelet donors.
BP: We have just met during our current #polishblood campaign. Have you ever heard about it before?
MK: Yes, I have seen it on Facebook, but I had no idea you all would come to give blood in the West End Centre and I was very glad to see you here. My colleagues also remember you and your fellow donors from previous campaigns.
BP: It is a huge satisfaction for us as well and we thank you for taking such a good care of us.
MK: It was my pleasure to meet so many fellow Poles for this occasion.
BP: Please, tell us more about yourself. Where do you live and how long have you lived in England?
MK: I have three children, two daughters, and a son. We all live in Putney, south-west London. My daughter was the first to come to England, I have joined her with the rest of my family several years later. I love Poland, and my fellow Poles, and I have a lot of friends there, but the whole system let me down. It happened one day I was left completely on my own with three children to raise, with no help whatsoever. I was a nurse for twenty years and I had to take two jobs to make ends meet.
BP: Please, tell us how you came to Britain.
MK: I came to England for a new start. I found a job in a care home in Norfolk via the internet. Before I came, I had spent a year attending weekend lessons at my local English Learning School in Poland. When I started my job, I could not understand a lot, only the basics, but my English much improved soon.
BP: So how long have you been here?
MK: I have been in England since 2007, which is twelve years.
BP: How long have you been with the West End Donor Centre?
MK: Since last December last. I applied for this job and was accepted straight away, maybe because of years of experience as a nurse. Good thing is, my new job gave me opportunity to move from Norfolk to London and join my family.
BP: Sandra Sowerby, your manager, told us the West End Donor Centre was the busiest in Europe.
MK: Yes, isn’t it amazing? We have around 200 people coming here every day. Europe has a much bigger centre than ours, they have 30 donor stations available daily, in comparison, we only have 8 stations, but we take much more blood! We work 7 days a week and if hospitals or Blood Banks signal any blood shortages we are open for blood donors even during Bank Holidays.
BP: In conclusion, please, say something special for the British Poles readers. How would you encourage people to give blood and engage in campaigns like #polishblood?
MK: Blood donation is the greatest gift from one person to another. It’s incredibly precious gift indeed. In particular when you look at it from the point of view of medical staff, for many blood donors are doctors. Recently, I talked to a lady doctor who is an oncologist. She said, she was going to give blood as long as she could, because every day she takes care of patients after chemotherapy sessions and witnesses how huge difference blood transfusion can make to person’s wellbeing.
BP: We thank you so much for sharing your thoughts and experiences and hope to see you next time with #polishblood campaign. We usually start campaigning in August, but we keep giving blood the whole year long, so we are going to see you many more times to come. Let us congratulate you again for obtaining the ‘Employee of the month’ badge and we are proud this distinction was awarded to a Polish nurse.
Interviewed by Nel Badowska
Photos: British Poles
Translation: Jolanta Pitera
Poles in UK