After 20 years in the UK, Natalia Sali, Healthwatch Lambeth’s Engagement Manager is returning to her home in the Philippines.
Natalia (pictured with the team) joined Healthwatch in 2017 after working with voluntary sector organisations in different London boroughs. She says she will be continuing her social work career and teaching in graduate studies in the Philippines.
Natalia came from the province of Bulacan and finished her master’s degree in Social Work from the University of the Philippines. She also studied in the UK – at Westminster University of London where she gained her Postgraduate Diploma in Health and Social Care Management, and at the Royal Holloway University of London where she has just submitted her PhD thesis.
Living in Southwark and Lambeth in the last 20 years, she recalls big changes. “London has become even more diverse and vibrant, and I consider it my second home,” says Natalia.
Whilst in the UK, she set up One Child, One Tree, an environmental advocacy organisation in 2017. It is a group which is community-based, research-informed, and run by volunteers, and is aimed at mitigating climate change through tree planting. The group now focuses on mangrove planting and to date has planted close to 60,000 mangroves. In 2020, OCOT was the national winner of the most prestigious environment sustainability award in the world, the Energy Globe Award.
After winning the award Natalia said she felt “proud and humbled”. It was a reminder that “we have come a long way since my family started the programme in 2017. We have managed to inculcate in people the value of environment protection through planting trees and reducing plastic waste”.
She takes home fond memories of her work, “the Healthwatch Lambeth team and trustees have refreshed our strategy so we can continue being the champion for Lambeth people,” says Natalia, adding that she has enjoyed supporting strengthening its evaluation and delivery of engagement projects, as well as reaching clients from all walks of life, breaking down cultural and language barriers and its investment in volunteering.
She adds that she has enjoyed her own volunteering experiences, including with the London Vegan Society, London Wildlife Trust, and Fareshare London – showing her love for people and the environment. “The opportunity to work with local people has been the highlight of my experience in the UK.”
As she is fond of jogging, she says she will miss Streatham Common and her walks from Streatham to Brixton where Healthwatch Lambeth is based. Natalia’s extended family is in the Philippines although her three children are in the US, Canada, and the UK – who she hopes to visit more often.
Read more about One Child, One Tree and Natalie’s award here