Hi all. My name is Kalu Obuka. Most people call me Kaz.
I work for the NHS in Southwest London. An old colleague of mine described the NHS as one of the largest human rights and anti-poverty organisations on the planet. I think it is the greatest collective achievement of the British people. I like listening to people’s stories, and I enjoy working with people to think through problems and collaborate on solutions. I seek to amplify the voices of people who are excluded or easily ignored. It is the golden thread that links all my professional roles to date and is the most important aspect of my current role in the NHS.
My lived experience drives this commitment.
My mother came to the UK less than twenty years after Nigeria gained its independence from the British Empire. She worked hard in a hostile environment. She battled with teachers to make sure I got an education that met her standards. All of this had an impact on her, my sister, and me. When she fell ill, I became a young carer. Thankfully, my mum’s health improved, and she is better able to live with her conditions. However, my siblings and I still support her to navigate a health and care system that isn’t always able to listen to her or meet her needs. I often think to myself that if it is hard for her, what must it be like for people who don’t have children working in the NHS.
What I value about National Voices
I was drawn to National Voices because I got the sense that this also weighs on the minds of the people who work there. They want to understand what it must be like, and to tell leaders what they have learned. They bring stakeholders together to make sure that people with lived experience are heard, and that the experts influencing policy are themselves informed by lived experience.
I threw my hat in the ring for the Trustee role because great folks I know – like Samira Ben Omar, Phayza Fudlalla and Meerat Kaur, who work alongside communities – told me National Voices are the real deal, and it would be worth my time. I am really interested in the journey National Voices is embarking on. It is seeking to ground its work influencing policy in the lived experience of people with ill health, disability or impairment. It also wants to increase the visibility of its members and amplify the value of their insights, learning, and practice. This resonates with me, and I think an important aspect of this work will be continuing to shine a light on how the lived experience of how ill health, disability, or impairment are mediated by inequalities – including those based on gender, race, class and geography. I am fortunate to have such impressive colleagues with me on the Board and in the National Voices team. I couldn’t be more excited to work with them and what we can accomplish together.