My job is to provide support to employees who are referred to us when they have been unable to perform their role for a few months. It could be that they’ve had an accident, or it could be stress or anxiety. Whatever it is, they will probably be feeling vulnerable, so we need to deal with their emotions and build trust with them. They stay with us for about 13 weeks, sometimes longer. We coach and mentor them, think about their development and prepare them for what’s ahead – they often come to us feeling they have nowhere left to go, but in a few weeks they’re completely different people.
The first time I went to a meeting of TfL’s staff faith network, I sat there for an hour and nobody showed up. It was really disheartening. The chair was about to leave the role, so I put my name forward, seeing it as a challenge. We grew the membership from 10 or 12 people to about 130. It’s gone beyond simply bringing faiths together; we’ve created a community. We’ve got Christians, Muslims, Jews and more – we stand together and we work together.
For many people, the way they live and think is shaped by their faith and it’s the same for me outside work. I work with charities and the Alpha course at my church. I read scriptures and I sing as well. But I make sure I have quality time with my family too.
I love what I do. It’s so easy to lose hope and direction in your career, so I love being able to give people back their hope. A lot of the people we work with go back to their original positions and many of them continue to stay in touch with us. The key is that we don’t tell them what we think they need – we listen to them and we deliver. We’re honest with people and they respect that.
Getting an MBE was a complete shock. I had no idea it was coming. I’d been in the Caribbean for four weeks and I’d come home feeling relaxed. I saw a letter from the Cabinet Office and my first reaction was ‘oh my gosh – what have I done?’ I’m not a bashful person but I’m not used to this sort of attention and it has been overwhelming. I feel proud, but most of all I’m happy I’ve got something I will be able to pass on to my family.
Pat Thomas has worked at TfL for 14 years, originally joining as a personnel adviser. She worked in HR services and as a senior adviser before taking on her current role. In June, she was awarded an MBE for services to transport in London and the community, recognising her six years as chair of TfL’s faith and wellbeing staff network group.