In the heart of Askham Village Community’s celebration of International Women’s Day, we find a profound commitment to values that resonate with every corner of our community: inclusion, diversity, and empowerment. Leading the charge in bringing these values to life is Michelle Barker whose dedication to fostering an environment of belonging and support has been inspiring. Michelle’s role extends far beyond her official title; she’s a cornerstone of our efforts to create a space where diversity is not just welcomed but cherished.


Michelle Barker: A reflection of inclusion and empathy

Within the heart of our community, Michelle Barker, the Training & Development Manager of our onsite training facility, AVC Training, stands out not just for her expertise in healthcare but for her genuine dedication to fostering an environment where everyone feels they belong. Michelle’s approach to inclusion is characterised by her personal touch and understanding, which have significantly impacted our community’s culture. Michelle’s own words best capture the essence of this approach, as well as the ethos of our community: “My passion for this industry has never wavered,” highlighting a deep-seated commitment to healthcare and personal development that have illuminated her journey.

Through her actions and leadership, she embodies the spirit of inclusion, making significant strides in ensuring our team members from varied backgrounds feel supported and recognised: “I don’t actually consider myself to be a leader as such. It is incredibly rewarding to be a part of a dedicated and professional team.” This humble acknowledgment not only showcases her modesty but also underlines a profound belief in the collective effort and the symbiotic relationship between leadership and teamwork in creating an inclusive workplace. By supporting team members throughout their journeys with us, she has set the foundation of a culture where every team member is motivated to exceed expectations: “If people feel supported and appreciated, they will want to go the extra mile.”

Bridging continents with compassion and support

The embodiment of Michelle’s inclusive leadership is vividly reflected in the experiences of team members who have crossed oceans to join Askham. Patience James, whose journey from Africa to the UK was marked by challenges but also triumphs, fondly recalls her first encounter with Michelle: “My first contact with Michelle was at my online interview while I was still in Africa in 2022. Her sense of humour and support then was great and one that I will always remember.

Patience’s story is a testament to the warmth and inclusivity that Michelle extends to every team member, regardless of their geographical origins, ensuring they feel valued and supported from the very first interaction. This interaction, among many others, underscores the essence of Michelle’s approach to inclusion — extending a hand of support and understanding across continents, ensuring that team members from diverse backgrounds feel welcomed and valued from the beginning.


Cultivating a culture of diversity and inclusion

Askham’s narrative of diversity and inclusion is further enriched by the stories of Shainy Matthew, Maryia Petkova and Anju Antony. These women, each from different parts of the world, have found in Askham not just a workplace but a platform for growth, leadership and cultural exchange. Their journeys underscore the success of our inclusive culture, championed by Michelle, where different backgrounds and experiences are not just acknowledged but celebrated.


Nurturing growth through inclusive support

This approach to development and support is particularly significant in the context of International Women’s Day, reinforcing our pledge to foster an inclusive environment where every individual, regardless of their background, is seen heard and supported.

The success stories emerging from our sponsored nurses programme serve as a testament to the inclusive support system Michelle has championed. This programme, enriched by a culture of mentorship and peer support networks, is a reflection of our commitment to inclusion, as it ensures that nurses from diverse backgrounds receive the guidance and support needed to thrive. It’s a representation of how we, at Askham, understand the importance of navigating the regulatory landscape with confidence and empowerment.


Inclusion: The heartbeat of healthcare

Inclusion in healthcare goes beyond mere representation; it’s about creating a culture where every individual feels valued, heard and empowered to contribute at their best. At Askham, we strive every day to stand by this ethos, guided by leaders like Michelle Barker and inspired by the diverse experiences of our team. As we celebrate International Women’s Day, we also celebrate the rich diversity and spirit of inclusion that defines us, reinforcing our belief that these values are essential to advancing healthcare and nurturing a compassionate community.