Skills for Care

#SalutingOurSisters: Carmen Gardier shares her career story this Black History Month

13 Oct 2023

3 min read

Carmen Gardier

  • Culture and diversity

October is Black History Month, and this year’s focus is on #SalutingOurSisters – celebrating the achievements of Black women. In honour of this we’re dedicating our #GoodNewsFriday in October to sharing the stories of Black women working in social care. This week we hear from Carmen Gardier, Head of Service for Mental Health and Learning Disabilities, Royal Borough of Greenwich.

In the heart of the Royal Borough of Greenwich, I serve as the Head of Service for Mental Health and Learning Disabilities. A role that encapsulates a diverse spectrum of responsibilities; from managing in-house day, residential, and supported living services, to leading the Integrated Community-Learning Disabilities team.

Another significant hat I wear is overseeing the social care operational practices in mental health. This task is executed in collaboration with the Oxleas Foundation Trust, in line with a section 75 agreement.

Furthermore, I champion the representation of the Health and Adult Services Directorate on the EDI Steering Group. Here, I ensure a robust two-way communication channel, actively contributing to the evolution, implementation, and evaluation of the council's EDI goals and strategies.

The lens of my role sometimes magnifies the harsh realities of societal discrimination, especially in the intersectional context. It's disheartening to witness marginalised individuals, especially those with learning disabilities, being further oppressed due to their racial background. The high proportion of Black men detained under the Mental Health Act, due to misunderstood cultural behaviours, is a testimony to these disparities.

My heritage as a Black individual adds another layer of understanding to these challenges. It's a recurring generational battle against racism and discrimination, and its impact can't be understated. Yet, I view my position as a beacon for change, a medium to serve the community and amplify the voices that often go unheard.

Tracing back my career path, I began humbly as a support worker. Each step, from qualifying as a social worker to climbing the hierarchical ladder, has been a testament to my dedication. My journey, dotted with titles like assistant manager, manager, and service manager, has been transformative.

Among my accolades, modernising our day services stands out. Innovations like 'books without words' and our Friends United evening group have been pioneering. Yet, while I pride myself on these achievements, it's essential to highlight the systemic challenges faced by Black women like me. The incessant need to prove oneself, the relentless effort to conform, and the quest to remain authentic can be draining.

However, I find solace in my purpose. I am here for the individuals we support, and this realisation keeps me anchored.

The winds of change are blowing, albeit slowly. The introduction of new policies brings hope, but the real measure of progress lies in tangible lived experiences. Through this blog, I hope to ignite discussions and catalyse actions that can bridge the existing gaps and create a more inclusive future.


Visit our Black History Month webpage to find a range of resources to support you and your teams in achieving equality, diversity and inclusivity in the workplace.

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