40 years ago Barbados teenager Marcia Rollins went to England to become a nurse

Black Caribbean nurses made a huge difference in England’s National Health Service

Marcia Rollins is from Barbados. She always wanted to be a nurse but opportunities were limited on the island so when the UK needed new recruits she joined thousands of other Caribbean people and left for the ‘mother country’.

“It was always my dream to be a nurse. England was seen as the mother country and there were opportunities in England moreso than here in Barbados to do nursing.

I was terrified but full of hope for the future…

My plans were to go there and study nursing and get back to Barbados as fast as I could.”

Marcia was just 19 when she arrived in England and intended to return to Barbados soon after her training finished. She actually ended up spending 40 years in the NHS making a unique and valuable contribution as a Registered Nurse and gaining a diploma in health care. She retired in 2008 and moved back to Barbados.

“It was always my dream to be a nurse. England was seen as the mother country and there were opportunities in England moreso than here in Barbados to do nursing.

I was terrified by full of hope for the future…

My plans were to go there and study nursing and get back to Barbados as fast as I could.

You had things that weren’t very nice – Get back to the Jungle. Take your black hands off me. Things like that were said to you. To be quite honest, I didn’t let things like that bother me…”

Then I had a family… two small children and going back to Barbados was a far dream. I have no regrets. I consider England to be a University of Life.”

Read the entire story at Black Union Jack

Also from the same era, see BFP’s Bajan Ralph Straker passes in the UK – One of thousands recruited from the Caribbean by London Transport in the 1950s

 

4 Comments

Filed under Barbados, Culture & Race Issues, History, Immigration, Race

4 responses to “40 years ago Barbados teenager Marcia Rollins went to England to become a nurse

  1. MoneyBrain

    The English have always been harsh and super critical. Even so it is ridiculous that Black peeps would be verbally accosted with references to colour, jungle etc. One wanders if a black Doctor was the only Emergency Doc available whether a critically injured person would select to risk death?

    Having said this my own sister preceded this lady to England to do Nursing by 2 years and several family members all white have migrated to the UK in similar fashion. The English discriminated against ALL of us no matter how well educated. Refrains such as White N— have been heard! While it was not as nasty as some of the words used against this lady and others please be assured whites were not given an easy ride either.

    My sister ended her career at a major London Hospital at a senior level reporting to a Jamaican woman along with 3 others. This Jammie was a crazy bitch who eventually managed to alienate ALL of the 4 middle managers reporting to her. Key example was a chap who called her one night to say his Mother was dying and he had to take the train asap to see her( everyone knew she was very ill prior) This maniac told him that he had to be at an inconsequential meeting at 7.30 am the very next morning ie less than 12 hrs hence! There are a multitude of examples like this. All 4 left or retired as a result of this Mad Cow diseased clown!

    Now you would logically conclude that this would be investigated and this woman would be removed from inflicting her stupidity on the Hospital since this behavior cost the Hospital lots of money and deprived patients of very experienced people. So why was she not properly investigated? Well just like the maniac Jihadi types in the UK there would have been cries of RACISM even though that had absolutely nothing to do with racism besides for the probability that this Jammie was being Racist in some manic form of retribution for what others may have perpetrated on her 25+ years before?

    These days it sometimes cuts the other way!
    Both attitudes/ approaches are WRONG!

  2. Sharkey

    Thank you BFP for these little bits of history. I do so enjoy them.

    A reminder of another one of your history pieces from 2011 dealing with Bajans going over and away for work.

    From Barbados to England in the 1950s – Adventure, racism and a new life on the buses.

    https://barbadosfreepress.wordpress.com/2011/02/06/from-barbados-to-england-in-the-1950s-adventure-racism-and-a-new-life-on-the-buses/

  3. This is a good story BFP, I was one of those people who left the islands to study nursing in the UK, no regrets, It is The University of life, and would do it all over again if needed. I am retired now, with my Barbadian husband, and living in Barbados. I receive more racism here than I ever did in Britain. Our daughter went back to live in Britain.

  4. Kor Blummah

    I receive more racism here than I ever did in Britain.
    ………………………………………………………………………..
    In Barbados open racism is not as widespread as Classism. I am one of those who have sojourned in the Mother Country, in an environment , where not only was I in the minority, but was that singular minority. I cannot recall encountering one case of racism.
    I wish that people like Marcia Rollins and yourself, who have spent so many years in the Greatest University of life would , put their experiences into print. We have very sketchy accounts of our elders who went off to Panama Canal and Cuba, and just about nothing on those who went off to Costa Rica to build the train line there.