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Sam's story

Read about Sam’s experience through school, coming out, and now working as a Speech and Language Therapy Assistant in the NHS

Key themes: University, discrimination, NHS, coming out  

1. Hi, can you introduce yourself?

Hi, I’m Sam, 31, and I’m a Speech and Language Therapy Assistant working for North East London NHS Foundation Trust (NELFT). I’m originally from Tamworth, and I moved to Essex in 2013 after graduating from Coventry University with a degree in English. I have 4 cats and a tortoise, I play rugby, and I volunteer for St John Ambulance. I have a lovely partner named Hayley who is my rock, inspiration and safe place.

2. Tell us a bit about your journey through education and into work, and if you faced any challenges along the way?

I completed the standard pathway of education, attending primary and secondary school, then onto college to complete a diploma in performing arts. Finally, I attended university and gained a BA (Hons) in English.

My educational life was not always easy. I was bullied, but I was able to turn this into a positive by becoming a ‘Ban Da Bully mentor’ in secondary school. Years 10 and 11 at school were my best as I did gain a group of good friends and enjoyed my classes.

College was fun, and this time in my life allowed me to see just how many different types of people there are in the world and the small communities we live in.

University was another great experience, but not at first. I found I did not gel with the people in my accommodation, so 3 months in I moved accommodation into a place with a great bunch of people. From then, I very much enjoyed my time at university, where I was part of the musical theatre society, rugby and horse-riding clubs.

Both personally and educationally, I have, since I can remember, felt a bit different to other people. But I have learned that as much as you feel this way, there is nothing wrong with you, and there are people in the world who will love and appreciate you for you; it’s just a case of finding those diamonds!

3. Tell us a bit about what you do now, and what it’s like being LGBTQ+ in the workplace

Working as a Speech and Language Therapy Assistant with NELFT, I provide therapy to adult patients who have had a stroke or have degenerative neurological diseases (such as Multiple Sclerosis and Parkinson’s Disease) to help them improve/maintain their communication and/or swallowing function. In October 2022, I started an apprenticeship, which will hopefully see me qualify as a Speech and Language Therapist in 4 years’ time.

In terms of being a member of the LGBTQ+ community in the workplace, I’ve never ‘officially declared’ my sexual orientation to an employer before November 2019, when I joined my current workplace. I’ve really been quite lucky, and I think it’s thanks to the fact that my organisation has shown itself to be so openly diverse from the moment I started. It’s made me feel at home and not as closed off as I was in previous workplaces. In my last place, I was there for five years, and it was only when my ex’s nan got ill, and I had to leave work early to go to the hospital that it came out that the ‘girl I lived with’ was my partner! That was probably about two years into the job, if not longer. NELFT has enabled me to be myself, without worrying what anyone thinks of me, and for that I am truly grateful and cannot recommend it enough as a great place to work. That, coupled with the fact that I have such a rewarding job, means I can confidently say I love what I do!

4. What advice would you give to a LGBTQ+ young person thinking about taking the next step into the world of training or work?

My advice would be not to give up. No matter what obstacles you face, don’t let them deter you from following a good path, and most importantly of all, your dreams.

Find out more about a career as an AHP at Reach For The Stars With AHP Careers and Heroes of Health and Social Care.

Discover more about university and higher education.

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