Summer 2020 issue
Est. Reading: 2 minutes

COVID, Race and Privilege

IN May and throughout the summer, feelings were running high with the growing realisation that BAME health care staff seemed to be more at risk of developing serious symptoms of coronavirus, and issues and circumstances surrounding the tragic death of George Floyd in America.

In recognition of the sadness, distress and anger amongst staff in the Trust the Executive team introduced a series of virtual sessions for staff to join to reflect on these events, hear the experiences of BAME colleagues and acknowledge the impact of these inequality issues. In creating this space, they hoped to offer an opportunity to reflect, listen and talk about how we unite, stand in solidarity and make change happen. These were well attended and have laid the foundation for our next steps.

Tanya Carter, Director of People and Culture said,

“The stories and experiences shared touched many people. They have served to remind BAME colleagues of the ways they adapt to fit in, or avoid conflict, or prepare and anticipate negative behaviours, and for some, it has unearthed suppressed memories and emotions. For non BAME colleagues, the sessions raised their awareness of the invisible and visible barriers that exist for BAME people, with many expressing shock, upset and above all, empathy. The sessions have brought home the importance of recognising bias and actively challenging discrimination.”

Respect and Dignity at Work

Our Respect and Dignity at Work campaign launched last summer and included the ‘A Mile in My Shoes’ installation which many attended. This was a chance to wear someone else’s shoes and listen to a recording of them talking about their life as you walked.

In phase two of the campaign, we invited staff to tell their own stories in facilitated workshops called: Through My Eyes followed by phase three when the anonymised stories were shared with managers at an event with the opportunity for group discussion and reflection.

Other Initiatives

A Career Development Working Party has been launched to look at career development for groups who are not represented at senior levels in the Trust or the NHS and to review recruitment processes. Reverse mentoring is in place enabling individual BAME staff members to pair up with a board member to talk about the realities of life and the view from the ground.

Hello, My Name Really Is …

Tanya has gone on to launch a unique social media initiative called ‘Hello, My Name Really Is..’ which has gone viral – if 7000 views is viral! She explains, “During the sessions we held for staff, I became aware that a number of staff have adopted new names to avoid difficulties for others in spelling or pronouncing their name.

Many of their native names are family names or have beautiful meanings which is denied if they don’t use them. So I wanted to encourage anyone using an ‘easier’ name to introduce themselves. Our names are really important and as with all new words, we need to take the trouble to learn how to say them until it flows off our tongue.”

To join in, search #MyNameReallyIs on social media and… introduce yourself.

Interim CEO Paul Calaminus will be leading work on White Privilege.

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