Councillor Yemi Osho, Mayor of Waltham Forrest and nurse of 30 years, is a force to be reckoned with.
The makings of Cllr Osho’s remarkable career were apparent early on in her life. She says, “From early childhood I’ve always been interested in caring for people, as I had innate desire to make a difference in people’s lives.”
cllr yemi osho
After secondary school, Cllr Osho qualified as a registered midwife, before moving into a general nursing role, then becoming a nurse practitioner.
Since then, Cllr Osho has kept busy. She was awarded the Queen’s Nurse title in recognition of her leadership and commitment to providing patients with high quality care in 2012. In 2014, she was elected counsellor of Lea Bridge ward, Waltham Forrest; and in 2017, mayor. These accomplishments are just a few highlights in the impressive career of Cllr Osho.
“I’ve enjoyed every moment,” Cllr Osho says. “People say ‘how do you have time?’, It goes back to being a nurse. We’re able to juggle activities and have a better sense of time management.”
“I have always challenged injustice and promoted equality”
Cllr Osho believes her role as a nurse prepared her “immensely” for her political career. She says, “The 6Cs – care, compassion, courage, communication, commitment and competence – that are required to deliver quality care to patients, are equally core values relevant to politics.”
In particular, she believes the humanitarian side of nursing influenced her desire to help people on a wider scale by strengthening her community. “Being elected as mayor gives me further opportunity and platform to bring diverse cultures together. I have always challenged injustice and promoted equality,” Cllr Osho says.
Running for mayor felt like the natural next step for a woman who has spent her adult life as an activist for black and minority ethnicities, women and nurses.
Cllr Osho she has championed race and gender equality through her contributions to events such as Women’s Day and her co-pioneering of the RCN Black and Minority Ethnicity Forum. As a woman of Nigerian descent, Cllr Osho also serves as a role model for overcoming prejudice. In 2013 she was named National ‘Activist of the Year’ by Movement for Change. She explains, “The overt and covert prejudices that I have experienced; whether on the grounds of race or gender have always strengthened me. As with all things that have arisen in my life, along with the challenges have come excellent opportunities”.
“As nurses we work day in and day out addressing life critical conditions but we are not adequately rewarded”
As mayor, Cllr Osho is also in a position to advocate on behalf of nurses. In addition to supporting nurses with work related injuries and disabilities, and encouraging students to pursue careers in nursing, she uses her office to call attention to poor treatment of nurses. She says, “As nurses we work day in and day out addressing life critical conditions but we are not adequately rewarded. The government needs to honour the work nurses do.
“That is why I have advocated for more nurses to be politicians, so that we can have more voices to call for the change we desire.”
One of Cllr Osho’s recent initiatives was to choose a mayoral charity. She decided to dedicate her efforts to Diabetes UK, the largest diabetes charity in the UK working to support proper prevention and treatment of the condition. Cllr Osho chose Diabetes UK because she says, “It is a subject so close to my heart.” She notes that diabetes is a condition that affects all ages and ethnicities and, with four million people living with diabetes in the UK, she believes it “is the fastest-growing health threat facing our nation.”
“We each can contribute to making a difference in a small way”
This charitable partnership, like the entirety of Cllr Osho’s political career, is influenced by her experiences as a nurse. “Seeing the impact of the condition on my patients propelled me to use this opportunity to raise awareness of the impact of diabetes on people’s health,” she says.
For those looking to follow in Cllr Osho’s footsteps she offers this guidance: “My word of wisdom is that we are all born with a talent… and should never give up on our dreams. We each can contribute to making a difference in a small way.”
The advice is sound, but in the case of Cllr Osho’s own talents and contributions, they are anything but small.