Empowered Black Woman with Attitude!

Be Judge & Jury!

Mervelee Tomlinson

Mervelee Tomlinson

LEYF On My Doorstep? Updated 16th October 2017

I had worked with Alev Sagnak before and she recommended me to join Westminster Children Society (WCS) in 2009 when I was experiencing some amount of instability in my life. Since that time WCS has changed to London Early Years Foundation (LEYF) and five (5) years on, I am still working with LEYF. However I am more than glad to say I am happy to be back in South London – Southwark after spending 5+ years working in Westminster. The best thing about my changing journey is that LEYF is expanding business from Westminster where the organisation started over 100+ years ago. To literally all the deprived areas of London, providing better outcomes for young children. I am privileged to be working at the Bird In Bush Nursery that is situated literally on my doorstep in South East London. I started my journey in South London, working in the early years’ sector after I completed my studies at Lambeth College 1997-1999.

I am an older and wiser early years’ practitioner who has been embedded with the LEYF ethos from when I joined in September 2009. Now that I have achieved most of what I set out to accomplish as a practitioner, enhancing knowledge and expertise via studies and trainings. I am intent on using two of my hobbies – photography and writing to spread the LEYF DNA and my shared vision into my South London and to the world at large. Therefore, I am more than prepared to use the knowledge and expertise I fought hard to gain, to help spread the philosophy of LEYF as a beacon of good service provider to the UK and wider world. In so doing, I will start by giving credit where credit is due to some of the extra ordinarily special persons who have travelled on my journey of discoveries with LEYF http://www.leyf.org.uk.

I am therefore, going public so everyone know that I will always be eternally grateful. To those persons for inspiring, nurturing and empowering me to be the reflective practitioner, who developed the listening ethos, whom I have become to date. Therefore, I will have to start off saying a big thanks to Alev Sagnak who told me about the vacancy at WCS. And the fact they were recruiting for practitioners with my level of qualifications in 2009. Believe me Alev and mark my words that if I should win the jackpot, I promise to take you out to my native Jamaica for some fun and frolics and to meet my family who are exactly like me. Next on my list are some super colleagues whom I met at Fitzrovia Community Nursery where I first started. They are Candy, Patricia Session, Ezi and Claire the deputy who started on the same day with me. Candy is in for special mention because she took me under her wings as a novice. Taught me ICT, how to do the Learning Journeys and write up the Activity Planning Forms http://www.ofsted.gov.uk/parents.

Only a few weeks after starting at Fitzrovia, I re-established contact with Joelle Lax, now manager at Holcroft Nursery. I had previously worked with Joelle when she was only about seventee (17) years old at Lambeth Walk Day Nursery after I graduated from Lambeth College. She recognised me all those years later, as soon as she walked into the nursery and saw me. I later learned that Joelle was one of the youngest managers working for LEYF when she was appointed. It would be rather amiss of me if I did not mention working in partnership with other professionals and outside agencies from the Camden Local Education Authority. I was privileged to be given the opportunity to enhance knowledge via trainings and empowered to make my implicit knowledge explicit.

The early years’ teacher who identified my passion in fulfilling my role as a SENCO was forceful in ensuring I got the trainings to do the role to the best of my ability. And she did not just stop there, she taught me about Every Child A Talker (ECAT), Statutory Assessment, Individual Education Plans (IEP), Picture Exchange Communication System (PECS), etc in the short space of time – 6 months that I was at Fitzrovia http://www.education.gov.uk/contactus. I am a believer in change and I was transferred to Luton Street where I was destined to spend 4+ years working with some exceptional, enthusiastic and passionate colleagues. These colleagues were the epitome of professionalism, who have the children and their parent’s best interests at heart. Julie Weiss aka Julie Moye http://www.linkedin.com/mervelee-tomlinson. Julie, who was the manager is first in line for some special praises. She always showed her appreciations for the work I had done.

Since she had the ears of the CEO, June O’Sullivan, she was never stingy in telling her about the good practice that I contributed to. Providing quality standards of work, especially my Learning Journeys and Homemade Books. The CEO in turn would be lavish with her praises for anyone whose work was of the highest standards, whenever she popped into any of the nurseries. However, in spite of this, this is not to say Julie Weiss and I saw eye to eye, are were in agreement to everything. I guess in hindsight I might now have to blame the generation gap. We never think twice about challenging each other practice. But we never lost sight of our different roles and responsibilities in the team and gave each other the respect that were merited to do the job. We both knew we were responsible for being accountable for acting and working as professionals no matter our personal take on any matters.

One of the biggest thing I admired about Julie Weiss is the fact that she would admit when she got her wires crossed and apologised for her mistakes. And we were on differing wavelengths about certain matters, but there was mutual respects between us. We were never afraid to call a spade a spade and then moved unto the most important roles of fulfilling our job descriptions. Stacey-Jane Whitfield, who was the deputy manager was one of the humblest, down to earth person l had the privilege of working with. She never had the time to bother with some of the airs and graces connected to her status as she always had to go that extra mile in getting the job done. Madonna was a tower of strength, who treated me like the big sister I never had. Marcia Girvan cooked up those mouth-watering meals to appease our taste buds. There is Elizabeth Reid, one of the first LEYF apprentice I met at Luton Street and who is a real go getter. This young lady knew what she wanted to accomplish and set out to achieve her goals. She rose to the position of Deputy Manager in Queens Park Nursery.

Updated: Elizabeth Reid and others like Tania Silva have being given the opportunities to rise up the career ladder, now as managers, deputies and various leadership and management positions. But despite being their mentor, I am now out of work for 2+ years with a reference flagging safeguarding. Like at the first workplace where Alev and I meet when we first worked together, they too have been manipulated to discriminate against me. Some of them have blocked me on https://www.facebook.com/public/Mervelee-Myers. I have had other encounters of exclusion when I could no longer access the Nursery World FORUM on https:www.linkedin.com that I contributed to. Then the editor of the http://www.nurseryworld.co.uk, thought she have the rights to join in the discrimination, so I let them know I am not a voiceless vulnerable.

I was stalked by two (2) young white males at the Nursery World Show 2017, the day after the end of https://www.gov.uk/employment-tribunal-decisions/ms-m-myers-v-london-early-years-foundation-2300047-2016. In November 2016 when I was celebrating my son’s election win, LEYF got Facebook to block me. On the 21st December 2016, LEYF got the ET to ban me from Social Media. I agreed with condition that it started there and then. Because there were materials in cyberspace over which I have no control. After the ET judgement was posted online, http://www.bwbllp.com had the audicity to contact me after nearly two years to remind me about their threats of the 24th September 2015. Then they get Facebook and https://twitter.com/rattynem to contact me. So I see them off with my correspondences, making my implicit knowledge explicit.

I worked with agency staff Freda and her daughter and Nichole initially when I started at Luton Street and they were a bunch of true professionals who just got on with the job. Their work were outstanding and comparable to LEYF standards at the time, so it is no wonder that they were relied on when LEYF needed their services. I met Tania Silva at Fitzrovia when she came to cover and we ended up as colleagues in Luton Street. She moved on to become one of the Deputy Managers at Marsham Street. We were privileged to develop some great innovative ideas and using our initiatives to promote and implement best inclusive practice during out time at Luton Street. We were empowered and enabled via our mutual enthusiasm in delivering the pedagogy of the expert theorists to support, enhance and extend children’s development and learning. There is Trison Grant who was an exceptional apprentice and I decided to take her under my wings because she is one of us. Jamaican and I could see her potentials as well as her passion for working with young children.

Katie is such a lovely girl who was only interested in giving of her best, doing her work and planning for her future ahead. I was privileged to mentor some of the students like Suzan Murados and Michelle Hoofong to name a few. What can I say about my boy Apprentice Bryan, who I thought had such a bright future ahead of him. If, he had stuck to his guns and completed his apprenticeship? I honestly believed he had a role to play with “Men In Childcare” and I felt let down that he did not stay. However I am hoping that whatever he is doing he is flourishing and doing something useful with his life and not fallen by the wayside? I am appealing that if anyone knows about him to remind him of the role he played in the last LEYF conference that we attended. Andrea Barnes is another lady with attitudes like myself, but with her heart set in the right place. I am hoping she has managed to get her studying back on track and making using of the God given talents that she is blessed with?

I have to raise my hat to Bianca the apprentice who is such a natural in her role. I am hoping she will be inviting me to her babies’ christening of course, so I can get to dress up in one of my posh frocks? Now that I have hit on an idea about developing some teaching and learning tools to use in the early years. I am thinking about Sandra Delgado, who taught me the song that I am thinking of using as my launching pad. As this is an idea in the making, I will have to now get really serious and busy ensuring this is a reality. Surely I have to mention Sunita Bagri who helped to sell my credentials about my good practice. Sharing my story about working in collaboration when I am using my knowledge and expertise to inspire others, to make the most of their opportunities in life. With her spreading the words I eventually got my request for transfer from Luton Street to somewhere local and closer to home become a reality. I cannot forgot Sao Banya, who when she came to Luton Street told me about LEYF take-over of BIB, and telling me to ask for the transfer to BIB.

Sao has been a tower of strength inspiring me to give of my best, because she too has done studies to a certain level like I have done. Most importantly we do work from that shared vision that the expert theorists recommend. The manager Lynne Kelly, has been very supportive, ensuring that she puts certain amenities like the computer in the staff room so I can word process my work and get the job done more effectively. I have been ensconced and literally camping out on my doorstep with my transfer to Bird In Bush in Peckham South London. Now I am just working a stone’s throw from where I live, I have more time for my personal life as a part time carer for my elderly husband. I also have more me time and I can focus and concentrate on some of the things that are important to me like making links and connecting with the local community that I live in. And for all those other colleagues whom I met whilst I covered in other LEYF nurseries – Carlton Hill, Holcroft, Queensborough, House of Commons, Queens Park, Lisson Green, Mickey Star and Noah’s Ark and those that I attended for trainings.

I am eternally grateful for you, allowing me into your settings and sharing your practices with me. Because for every setting that I covered in I came away with some new knowledge and expertise that I did not have before. Now I am indebted and have to talk about the impact of Rachel Parker who accompanied us to that training day out at Community Playthings. She is such an absolute professional who used to attend at Luton Street to do the ITTERS & ETTERS using both top down and bottom up approaches doing her job. I understand that she will be working in South London as an Area Manager and I can only continue to wish her all the best. I believe it was because of her I had the opportunity to attend trainings at Community Playthings where I am now working in partnership with the Darvell School on a none profit level. Using my knowledge and expertise to promote my country’s and my family heritage to a wider audience.

Working Partnerships: Although I did not stay long at Fitzrovia to do much other than support a child on the Autistic Spectrum in my role as the SENCO. I was privileged to work with children and their parents from diverse multicultural background. I have worked in partnerships with tutors, assessors, fellow colleagues and placements facilitators since I entered the early year’s sector when I enrolled at Lambeth College 1997 to the present. Now that I am back in South London amongst the majority of people from my own or similar cultures to mine. I can feel the vibes and realised how much I am appreciated and felt really proud when Caroline Quirke presented me with a star that one of the children made to show her appreciation to my hard work and dedications since I started at BIB. Coming from a time in my life when my hidden disability caused me to stay in the background as I did not want to embarrass myself and lose my dignity. I was able to take centre stage for the Christmas Play and never once stopped to worry about failing. Since living in the UK, I have had opportunities to address my disabilities and empowered myself to integrate into a tolerant society. By so doing I have had chances to develop my confidence and even though the disability is still part of who I am. I have come out of my shell and is able to do something productive with my life.

An Advocate: I have empowered myself over the years during prolonged studies, trainings and research. I did not only have to deal with my hidden disabilities, but had to cope with my child, who was misdiagnosed with multiple disabilities. That is why I am an advocate of inclusion. Thereby doing research into how best to implement and promote inclusive practice to stop even one child and their parents going through what I went through as a young inexperienced mother. I am proud to be a member of the LEYF team, who is proactive in shaping the lives of the young children who may need some forms of early intervention strategies to get them pass those initial hurdles that I had to deal with for myself and, with my own child. As the CEO rapped at the 2013 Staff Party, I am proud to be a be-LEYF-er and is more than happy – 5+ years and counting… I am looking forward to spending the next 10 years until my retirement when I will be packing myself off to my paradise in the sun. Hopefully I will be in a position where I can be of service in helping to develop Special Educational Needs and Disability services in Jamaica. Using some of the vast knowledge I had gained in the UK and most importantly as a LEYF employee?

Benefits of having LEYF on my Doorstep: I can easily pop home if I have an emergency or even check on my husband whose age, ill health and other underlying conditions are causing me much concerns. Working closer to home has really given me greater peace of mind. I have been using some of the time I spent travelling to good effect in particular, when I have deadlines to meet working on children’s Learning Journeys. I can come a bit earlier and stay over late as I am no longer in a rush to travel the two (2) hours that it once took when I was working far away from home. I am a stickler for keeping promises to myself and others if I set myself any targets or deadlines. I just don’t like to let myself down and my Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) will not allow me to either. So I am stuck in my routines of giving of my best or left feeling I am letting myself down if I cannot reach my targets. But hey, life goes on and so does the work and as long as I can do my little bit to help any child achieve a positive outcome in life. I am more than satisfied and know that I am making a contribution, preparing the future generations for their roles in life?

Now that LEYF is literally on my doorstep and I am now working in South London where my journey actually started after being away since 2009. I am looking forward with much glee to continue using my enhanced knowledge in spreading the word about LEYF DNA and ethos as one of the service providers that gained the status of being a beacon of outstanding quality to be aspired to. At Bird In Bush where I believe and feel I am secured in the bosom of people and communities that I feel I am more in tuned with and relate with much better. I know I have finally found the perfect platform to give of my bests in my chosen career of working with young children that I had chosen all those years ago. In addition I have empowered myself so I can indulge in my other passions of photographing and writing? I am looking forward to more changes that will benefit the deprived communities of South London. And most importantly the children and families who will benefit from the changes that are bound to take place in order for there to be progress in the communities through the different capitals.

I am more than contented with my life as it is panning out before me. I am not asking for much else as I honestly don’t think I have much ambitions left to climb up the career ladder. But neither will I become complacent and drop my guards either because of past experiences when I had to come crashing back down to earth with a terrible thud? On second thoughts I would love to win the National Lottery so I can hurry up and return to my native Jamaica. I would be more than happy to focus on working in the area of Special Education and indulging in my passion of writing. So in the meantime I will be carrying on giving of my best at Bird In Bush, LEYF that is literally on my doorsteps and trying to motivate myself to develop my expertise in other areas? However I will not be complacent in whatever roles and responsibilities I take on as I am only prepared to give of my best.

I have seen my publications in http://www.nurseryworld.co.uk. I have written to http://www.express.org.uk about my struggles with Mental Health Conditions. My article that I have written when I was on Medical Suspension appeared on http://www.mqmentalhealth.org/Mental-Health/Mental-Illness in 2015. At https://worldreferee.com/referee/valdin-legister/bio, I submitted the information. I have been publishing on LinkedIn. I have found some of my articles used on http://www.parkinson.org.uk. I have corresponded with http://www.gov.uk/Number10. The LEYF solicitors and representatives of the ET http://www.justice.gov.uk/tribunals/employment/claims/responding. With http://www.voicetheunion.org.uk. With http://www.disclosure.gov.uk. With Southwark Council sen@southwark.gov.uk. I am to be found on some Social Media Platforms as I intend to share stories of my experiences to help in breaking down barriers. The barriers erected when recommendations to http://www.acas.org.uk/researchpapers are not considered. So I ended up with another miscarriages of justice by the ET because the judges are biased and conceited.

I am more than grateful that I have been empowered to put some of the things that once bothered me behind me. And move forward with all the enthusiasms that I can conjure up. I know what I am talking about as my old folks were fond of saying “she who feels it knows it?” What more can I say other than we are living in a world where we are not always tolerant and prepared to try and find out how others tick as we are more self-centred and looking out for “me, myself and I!” In the meantime I am here wondering what changes are going to be taking place by the time I am old and greyer and ready to retire to the LAND of my BIRTH? I have had so much joy when I worked as a Basic School Teacher and that is my primary reason for wanting to go back to make my contributions to Early Childhood Education.

Update: 16.10.2015 & 16th October 2017

I was harassed, bullied and inimidated into removing this article by one of my detractors, Hilda Miller, who told me at the time I knew nothing. She made some other negative comments that I won’t even publicise at this time. Because for someone who knows absolutely nothing about me or the work I’d done during 5+ years of dedicated services was beyond my ken. Now I am defying the bullies and putting the article back and be damned if they wish, for taking a stance for equal rights and justice for the vulnerable. I am celebrating Black History Month and showing I am no COWARD!

I am proud of my heritage as I am discovering the DNA that is part of my Roots. I was told that there was some German Blood, Mullattoo and I am questioning if there was Chinese as well. My cousin Osbourne Nembhardt who is doing Our Family Tree reassured me there is 90% African, some Dutch and Scottish! They are welcome to do their next best because I am a Fighter with the Maroon Blood that Nanny of the Maroons and all the National Heroes used to fight to defend Jamaica the Land of my Birth.

I am one  Proud JAMAICAN who is going to stand up and fight for my principles, values and beliefs. No one is going to stitch me up and send me back to no “Funded Prison 4 Criminals – I am not a Criminal”. I might have a touch of “Mental Health Issues”, but they are responsible for pushing me over the edge! 27th October I celebrate the birthdate of my Father, Uncle and Auntie, three (3) of my Grandmother Irene sixteen (16) children.

The ET Judgement: I am still having to wait for closures. The judgement is posted online and I am waiting for the Employment Appeal Tribunal to do what they intend to do. In the meantime I am left in limbo. Two (2+) years I am still without a job. I was planning on starting an online business, with the publication of my first book. However everything is on hold. I am now thinking of starting an online News Magazine, reviewing stories of interests that impact on why I have been discriminated against in the UK from 2004?

Written by: Mervelee Myers. Early Years Practitioner, Carer, Advocate, Writer.

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