Tinée Furbert’s fire to help society’s most vulnerable
A Cabinet minister said she was motivated to get into politics to get “a foot in the door” to help vulnerable people.
Tinée Furbert highlighted that she gained valuable experience in the field because she worked in psychiatric hospitals and with disadvantaged children when she was a student in the US.
She added her fire was stoked after she returned to Bermuda, was elected as an MP in 2017 and appointed to lead the Ministry of Social Development and Seniors when it was formed after the 2020 General Election.
Ms Furbert said: “I attended a college that was fully inclusive of persons with disabilities. I was actually responsible for an office called the accessibility office.
“I was the graduate student in that area so I had the opportunity to make sure that students had access to the curriculum at the college, whatever that looked like, through assisted technology.”
Ms Furbert, who attended Springfield College in Massachusetts, added: “One of the goals for every student who attended the college was that we had to get involved in community service and we had to get a significant amount of hours as it related to serving persons in that particular community that were disadvantaged.
“I put in a lot of hours in a state psychiatric hospital as well as an after school programme for children who were not doing well in school academically.
“I also worked in a school system for children with disabilities as well.
“I also worked not only for a state hospital but also a mental health hospital in their acute care wing for mental health conditions.
“So I got a lot of experience, particularly in the area of being able to help people.”
She said that her community involvement continued when she returned to Bermuda.
Ms Furbert, an occupational therapist, explained: “I had attended a local branch meeting for the Progressive Labour Party.
“In that capacity, that’s where I was able to learn more about the party and learn more about politics.
“I figured that in order to be able to help persons who were disadvantaged and vulnerable, I had to get my foot in the door because I felt as though their needs were … not being represented to the magnitude in which they could be.
“In order to get a full extent of what were the conversations, what were their guiding principles – you have to be in there to listen.”
Ms Furbert added: “That started my journey getting involved within the party, also assisting with platform objectives and goals and assisting at the very local and branch level in the party.
“I have lots of skills as a therapist in clinical reasoning, in problem solving, in task analysis, in writing reports, doing evaluations.
“So taking that information and changing it over into policy I think has been very helpful and effective for me to have well-rounded thoughts and ideas to be able to assist persons here in Bermuda.”
Ms Furbert said that her undergraduate degree was in rehabilitation with a concentration on developmental disabilities.
She added that she is still training and was now taking a course in public policy.
Ms Furbert said that her interest in helping people was sparked before she studied overseas.
She added: “I did have a fascination, particularly with the human body, biology anatomy and physiology and also, in psychology, understanding how people processed information.”
Ms Furbert said that she attended a Bermuda College fair where a variety of professionals spoke about their work.
She added: “I remember there was an occupational therapist who was there speaking about their role and what it is that they did. I took that information and I explored it a little bit more.
“What I loved about occupational therapy was that there was an element of being able to work in the area of physical dysfunction as well as mental health, as well as being able to concentrate in the area of paediatrics as well as geriatrics.”