Ana Casillas was part of a group of healthcare workers - mainly nurses - who wanted to provide support, advice and guidance to Spanish nurses already working in the UK and to new recruits.
After a year of hard work, the Isabel Zendal Association of Spanish Nurses and Healthcare Workers in the UK was recently founded, and is in the process of obtaining charitable status.
It was named in honour of an inspirational Spanish nurse who supported efforts to eradicate smallpox through vaccination in the early 1800s.
The aim is to support Spanish health workers who are both new and settled in this country and to help reverse the decline in recruits coming to the UK since Brexit.
Figures from the Nursing and Midwifery Council showed that the total number of people on its register who first trained in Spain dropped 50 per cent between September 2016 and March 2021, from 7825 to 3843.
Now, the association wants to set up a mentorship programme to help bring healthcare staff currently living in Spain, as well as those who have recently relocated, in touch with Spanish nurses and healthcare staff already working in the UK.
Ana, who graduates in May, said: “I moved to Stirling in 2013 because of my husband’s job.
“My English wasn’t good and I had a two year old and was three months pregnant.
“Once I settled, I started working in different jobs.
“When my English improved, I did an HNC in dental nursing and then applied to the University of Stirling to become a nurse - my dream job.”Ana is now on her final placement - her first since the pandemic started.
She paid tribute to her team and mentors for their support, adding: “I feel really lucky to have trained in NHS Forth Valley and would like to help more nurses to come and work here.”