I was born, raised and still live in a dirty old town.
A place where everyone knows everyone.
One road in and one road out.
Being brought up within the nurturing warmth of a deep-running community spirit is something that still inspires hope.
I was born the son of a miner and shipbuilder from the North East of England. Solidarity runs in my blood.
Now living here in the North West, my town of Barrow shares many features of those familiar pit towns my family still live in.
Barrow is aesthetically simple and brimming with brutal, industrial remains. Against this backdrop, I have come to realise that the simplest things are the most important, and specifically so the solidarity we share as members of local communities.
Aneurin Bevan once said, “The NHS will last as long as there are folk left with faith to fight for it” and I am currently one of those people – still with faith left, fighting for it every day.
Since becoming a Registered Nurse four years ago, I have also become a prominent trade unionist in my area. These two roles – a nurse and a trade union organiser – give me a very specific perspective on the strength in numbers of social cohesion.
And from the frontline here in the NHS, I can see just how important solidarity is in times of need, especially in the current political climate.
This April I will be joining international trade unionists and fellow healthcare professionals in Cuba, at the annual May Day celebrations that are known worldwide as International Workers’ Day.
The Cuban healthcare system was based on our very own NHS and like our health service, it also strives to deliver an equal standard of healthcare to all, regardless of wealth, class or status.
The coming together of numerous nations and communities of workers in Cuba this May Day, highlights the power and strength of people united.
Nurses are often referred to as ‘heroes without capes’, but we are just normal people. We all have typical human needs, families and mortgages. The more we are viewed as supernatural beings, the more pressure is heaped upon our heads – to the delight of those faceless bureaucrats in suits cutting corners, as they cut vital services, in pursuit of economic gain.
The never give up mentality is a common bond that runs deep within my fellow health workers. It is expressed in blood, sweat and tears and an effort that will always flow whenever real patients in real distress require the best care we can give them. What keeps us all going is the solace that comes with knowing that we are contributing towards the common good of people we live amongst – people just like us who need our help in their hour of need.
Iain Mooney Registered Nurse and NHS Unison Young Members Officer.
Photography: Brian Sweeney
The Western Infirmary Glasgow