Celebrating Black History Month: Never forget who you are and where you came from

Black History Month is an annual celebration and celebration and recognition of Black history, experiences, and achievements. Over the course of the month, Telent is amplifying the voices and stories of Black colleagues around the business. First up Anne-Marie Nugent talks about her current role, experiences, and her family history.

Before joining Telent, my background was in Facilities Management. I worked for a few years at a company that maintained twelve buildings in central London – including Number 10 when Tony Blair was in power. I worked on the project team and saw a lot of successes and interesting experiences during my time with them.

“I joined Telent about 15 years ago. I originally worked for Dalkia – an energy service company that provides planned and reactive engineering maintenance, service lighting, fire, and other bespoke services.

“My role now involves looking after over 40 vehicles, making sure they’re maintained, serviced, and running well. I also keep an eye on our drivers, ensuring they’re driving safely. If there are accidents, it’s my job to make sure these are reported correctly via TelSafe and any repairs to the vehicles are made quickly and efficiently. I also assist with Asset Management.

You notice when you don’t see much of yourself

“It’s been interesting to see how much Telent has grown over the last 15 years, especially in Pirin Court where I’m based. The demographic has changed quite a lot over the years in the office. When I first joined, it was very much white middle-aged men very few women and at one point I was the only black chick in the village.

“There has been a time when I was either the only woman, the only Black woman, or the only Black person in my team (this has always followed me into every job I’ve been in). Now, it’s more eclectic and there’s more diversity. It’s good to see, as you notice it when you walk in somewhere and don’t see much of yourself.

“It was the same where I grew up, my family were the only Black people on my road and I being one of two children in my class. At the time, political parties like the British National Party (BNP) where the norm and we had supporters of the BNP living opposite us who were very vocal.

“My Mum came over from Jamaica when she was 14 and growing up that was her perception of Britain, as racism was rife. She’s mellowed a lot over the years, but those were her experiences of the UK growing up.

“For me, nothing phases me anymore. I’m not sure if that’s a good or a bad thing, however I’ve experienced so much, heard every name under the sun and experienced racism in so many different forms, some boldly in your face, others more undercover - I’ve learned It’s how you deal with it – sometimes you have to address it with humor and shake it off, other times I may educate people if I see fit. For example, I’ve been told to ‘go back to where I come from’ and my reply is, “you should never have come to where I was to begin with.”

Never forget who you are or where you came from

“Over the last year I’ve learned more about my family history. For the last 15 years (until Covid hit) I used to go to Jamaica for a month every year, during that time got to see where my Mum grew up in Clarendon. It’s a very rural part of Jamaica, and honestly one of the most beautiful places.

“Recently I found out that my Grandad is a second-generation free slave, he worked on a sugar cane fields call Money Moss and could not read or write.

My family’s surnames aren’t our own – they were given to us by Scottish slave owners in Jamaica.

“For example, on my Mum’s side we have surnames like McPhearson and McClane, on my husband’s side the family name (and my married name) is Nugent. But that was a name given to their family by slave owners. When we go back to Jamaica there’s reminders of our history everywhere, and a lot of the plantation houses are still there.

“Black History Month is important, as it’s a good reminder that you can live somewhere and adapt to new experiences or places, but you should never forget who you are and where you came from. If you do, you risk losing your voice.

“It’s important that Telent is recognising Black History Month and I’m glad to take part. My natural reaction is that there shouldn’t be a month for Black history – it should be remembered and taught all year round.

There would be no history without Black History!!

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