Laura Bustin is our NHS Hero

She is tasked with guiding young people through their early days working within the NHS, but for Laura Bustin (31), it is more than simply a job.

After beginning her own NHS journey five years ago at Queen Elizabeth Hospital, Laura is now people development officer at Dudley and Walsall Mental Health Partnership NHS Trust.

Laura, who lives in Stourbridge, looks after the Trust’s apprenticeship programme and also oversees volunteering, work experience and the graduate management scheme.

“There has been a real investment into apprenticeships over the past few years,” said Laura.

“We now have 45 apprentices working across the Trust, in a variety of roles including roles in medical records and someone in our estates department completing their construction qualification.

“My role is to ensure that they are well supported and achieve all aspects of their apprenticeship framework. I also work with managers across the Trust to raise awareness of our apprenticeship programme and how someone could fit into their team.”

Laura continued: “I also oversee work placements and volunteers. I really enjoy the variety of my role – each day is different and I am passionate about working with young people and helping them to realise their potential.”

Laura says that seeing the progression of young people is what drives her at work.

“To see them come in at 16 years of age, often nervous and with no experience, and then within months become confident and gaining qualifications is really rewarding.

“In recent months we have seen apprentices, who came in with few qualifications complete level 3 (A level equivalent) and level 4 (foundation degree) certificates, which is fantastic. We have also had a number who have gone on to secure a full time role following the completion of their apprenticeship.”

Earlier this month, Laura helped to organise an event which brought together apprentices from NHS Trusts across the Black Country to launch a brand new programme, Health Works.

“Health Works is a joint project with Sandwell and West Birmingham NHS Trust,” explained Laura.

“The purpose of it is to work with young people, in primary and secondary schools, to raise awareness of careers in the NHS, but also to share important mental and public health messages.

“We brought together 15 apprentices who are currently working at NHS Trusts across the region to help design the programme as we wanted to ensure it appealed to young people. The name and the brand of the project is all their work.

“It really was a fantastic event and the highlight of my career to date. To see how the young people came together and to learn more about their motivations and abilities was brilliant. We can teach apprentices a lot, but I definitely believe we can learn just as much from them.”

Away from work, Laura is married and has two young daughters who keep her busy. When she does get time to relax, she can often be found with a book in her hand.

So who would Laura say is her hero?

“I wouldn’t say I have one hero,” said Laura.

“Throughout my career I have been lucky to have some incredible managers who have given me opportunities to try new things and I am really grateful for that.”

Laura’s mental health message: “It’s really important (especially as a working mum) to time take for myself each day, even if it’s just minutes – remember to take time for you.”

If you are interested in doing work experience with Dudley and Walsall Mental Health Trust or would like further information on the Health Works, please e-mail dwmh.apprenticeships@nhs.net