In honour of International Women’s Day, Social Interest Group is this week running a series on the women of SIG.
Continuing with our IWD profile series. This is Tricia’s story.
When I sat down to speak with Tricia, I did not know that the interview would leave me humbled, emotional, thankful, filled with admiration, and most of all inspired! Tricia epitomises; perseverance, grit, determination, authenticity and most of all strength. This is her story.
Synergy service manager Patricia Medford is a beloved colleague and friend, a mother of three and grandmother of five. Tricia as she is known, is a strong independent woman who has always had to fight for everything in life. “School wasn’t my best time, but I always knew there was something out there that was my passion. It just took me longer than others to find what it was. I’ve always had to fight for everything, nothing has ever been handed to me,” Tricia said.
Tricia’s current role was a light bulb moment for her. She had experienced a lot of domestic violence when she was younger and moved away from Luton with her children to make a fresh start. It took several years before she left that violent relationship and with her children, first moved to a refuge in Bedford then to Southend for a year. Tricia credits a conversation she had with a ‘church lady’ who picked them up in Southend, with showing her that her experiences could be used to help others. “I knew I had to give something back! She had given me and my children our lives back, so I knew I wanted to do that, to give back,” Tricia added.
After a year or so in Southend, Tricia returned to Luton a different person. She found herself and was strong and independent. She was now a single parent so started courses at the Luton Learning center as well as doing English and Math. She then applied for voluntary work, which led to a job at the job center and learning center, supporting 16-to-25-year-olds to get back into education and employment.
Tricia then moved on to several different roles including working as a priority, prolific offender officer (PPO). Within that role, she worked alongside probation and the police dealing with predominantly housing and other support needs. This led to a job as a housing officer working with vulnerable people with complex needs. Because she’d had doors closed in her face as a youth, she knew what it was like on the other side and was determined to make a difference.
Then Penrose won the tender for the entire support services in Luton, so, Tricia was TUPE’d over and became a Penrose Employee, starting as a support worker. She loved it! She loved the interaction with clients and was a Gypsy Roman Traveler (GTR) specialist for a few years. Alongside this, she had a caseload of general complex vulnerabilities; all within sustaining and maintaining tenancies, early interventions, and prevention.
Tricia then successfully applied for the manager position and has been in this role for over 5 years, going from strength to strength. So, her career was great, but unfortunately, her health started to deteriorate. It started with a bad leg, which was attributed to sciatica. Then seemingly from nowhere, Tricia was diagnosed with bowel cancer at the end of December 2019.
The big C & SIG support
When she was diagnosed with cancer, it shook Tricia’s whole life. She had never really been ill before but went to the doctor to figure out a way to stop taking painkillers for her leg pain. The doctor examined her and told her that she had cancer. She didn’t believe him. That weekend she went to a Reggae festival in Manchester and didn’t tell anyone about it.
Then on Monday second December (a date she’ll never forget), she attended the hospital referral appointment. It wasn’t until she walked down that corridor and saw the Macmillan sign, that it really hit. She was checked, then taken into a room and gently told, (whilst having her hand stroked) her diagnosis – stage 4 bowel cancer! It was like a massive bombshell. Tricia had to be strong for her family and try to reassure them, telling them she was going to be OK. Although she didn’t know if she was going to be.
Read the full blog post here.
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