Alison Fernandes

Proud to be Alison Fernandes

Job title: Learning and Teaching Support Officer in the School of Histories, Languages and Cultures | Events Co-ordinator, BAME Staff Network.

Tell us a little bit about yourself?

My name is Alison Fernandes and I am one of the School of Histories Languages and Culture’s Learning and Teaching Support Officers (LTSO). I spend a lot of my time working one-to-one with students who require long-term support for their studies, often due to a disability, mental health condition or serious family or other circumstances. I have been in this role for over 2.5 years now and I really enjoy supporting students and helping them to succeed.

I am also an active member of the BAME staff network and have recently taken on the role of events co-ordinator. This year I am organising our annual Black History Month lecturer and I am pleased to welcome Dr Jason Arday who will be speaking about disrupting the systemic nature of racism throughout the sector.

What are you Proud to be, and how did you first begin to identify as this?

I am proud to be the University of Liverpool staff awards 2019 Volunteer of the Year.

Having previously been employed with the British Red Cross before joining the University, I continue to work with the organisation as an emergency/crisis response volunteer. In this capacity, I help set up and assist in reception centres for exploited and potentially trafficked people. These are open once Merseyside police identify people in need which is linked to police intelligence and planned raids. The centres are open for a short-term period but shifts can sometimes be needed for 24-hour support. Inside, I provide emergency provisions such as food, clothes and blankets, and offers a listening ear and emotional support.

What does being Volunteer of the Year 2019 mean to you? What do you love the most about your volunteering work?

I was so happy to be awarded Volunteer of the year in recognition of the work I undertake with the British Red Cross. Due to the sensitive nature of the work I can’t disclose much information about the outcomes of the operations I have been involved in so being recognised for my involvement in anti-human trafficking operations was important to me.

Who inspires you, and how?

The person who inspires me the most is my son. I am so proud to be his mother and he inspires me to continue to work towards making the world a more just and equitable place.

If you could give one piece of advice on being proud of who you are, what would it be?

My top advice would be to remain true to your values and beliefs and find ways you can uphold these in your life choices. For example, sometimes it may seem like you don’t have the time to volunteer but there are so many opportunities out there whether you have one hour or one week to spare.

I hope you will find that dedicating this time can provide you with new skills, friends and job opportunities for your future.

Is there anything else you would like to share?

There is an assumption that trafficking only happens in certain places like car washes or brothels but what has stood out to me in my time volunteering is the wide variety of ways people are being exploited here in Merseyside. It has certainly made me think about places I may spend my money and question if things are really that cheap, what is the human cost behind the low price? I would ask you to think about the same.

If you would like to take part in the Proud to Be campaign, you can complete the Proud to Be template and email your answers to Karishma Asher,