Black History Month celebrations
19 October 2022
On Thursday 6 October, Shropshire, Telford and Wrekin ICS celebrated Black History Month with an event at Shrewsbury Town Football Club.
Organised by the ICS Equality, Diversity and Inclusion steering group, this was an inspiring and stimulating evening. It saw the relaunch of our STW ICS Ethnically Diverse Network, which was established in 2020 when covid -19 had shone the light on the disproportionate effect of the pandemic on the Black and other ethnic minority communities.
The ICS was well represented, with Director of Communications and Engagement Edna Boampong and Chief Nursing Officer Alison Bussey in attendance. We had representatives from Primary Care, SaTH, Shropcom, MPFT, Shropshire Council, Telford & Wrekin Council, and social worker teams attend the meeting. It was truly an integrated meeting between organisations.
Patrick Vernon OBE gave the keynote speech at the event. He is an Independent Non- Executive Director and Vice Chair of Birmingham and Solihull ICS where he leads on inequalities. He is also Independent Adviser on Equality, Diversity, and Inclusion for the Crown Prosecution Service. Patrick was awarded an OBE in 2012 for his work on tackling health inequalities and ethnic minority communities. In addition he is a social commentator and campaigner and has been at the forefront of several high-profile campaigns on cultural heritage and social justice in the UK over the last decade.
From talking about the rich culture and 100 great Black Britons, we moved on to the problem of racism and disparity in our workplaces and what can employers do to improve this.
We then heard from Hannah Adjepong, a Ghanaian-born grandmother who utilises her traditional African storyteller skills to great effect. The group was fully engaged with her thought-provoking storytelling, followed by her inspirational poetry. The energy within the room was palpable and encouraged greater group interaction. “Despite outward appearances we are all the same and should dwell on the positive in ourselves and each other. We have a common humanity and should practice self-acceptance as well as accepting other people.”
This was followed with “Hearing from our leaders” where we listened to Edna Boampong and Dr Mary Ilesamni, GP and chair of our Primary Care ethnic diverse network, former governing body member and one of our clinical leads (CYP Asthma). They both shared their personal stories about their careers and illustrated that hard work and dedication had led to their professional success. Mary commented about the help and encouragement she received from other role models and allies in the system and how it is important to “lift as we rise” and to encourage and help more BME staff to aim higher in their careers.
Closing remarks came from Alison Bussey, Chief Nursing Officer. “What a really great event, I’m proud to have joined the celebrations and to support the network in the capacity of SRO. Really interesting to listen to different experiences and to celebrate the diversity of our workforce. I want to make sure that the conversations keep being progressed, that we listen and show, how we can behave as allies. It is important as leaders we do this and support all in our system.”
Feedback received from our system colleagues are as below:
“I attended virtually, and I enjoyed the whole occasion. I was especially impressed with Hannah’s poetry and talk and Edna Boampong’s story. As the grandson of a Cuban man whose own grandfather was from a Ghanaian royal family and was enslaved in Cuba, Hannah’s talk and poetry made so much sense. Thank you.” Mark Tomlin, Senior Social Worker/ Mockingbird Liaison Worker
“Many thanks to you and your team for organising such a brilliant event last night. I was so pleased to be there, to meet people and to hear the talks and poetry. Hannah was amazing, just an incredible speaker and poet. So, thank you all for such a lovely evening.” Tamsin Waterhouse, Principal Social Worker Adult Services
“Just emailing to say a big thank you to you and the team for organising such a thought provoking and inspiring event at the football ground last Thursday night.” Edith Macalister Project Manager Phlebotomy Redesign.
The challenges of building networks and team building at times like this, when there are huge pressures on the system, cannot be underestimated. We need resilience training for our leaders and network leads so that the passion and enthusiasm is maintained. We have arranged a training session for our EDI team with Alastair Olby from Leading Beyond and are looking forward to being reinvigorated in this work.
I would like to conclude by saying that we are proud that the event was well attended and there was a real feeling of team building and ambition to work together as a system where diversity is celebrated and embraced. As a system, we need to start thinking how we are making our workplaces a safe place where everyone feels valued, respected, included, and develop a sense of belongingness. This will allow our colleagues and staff to feel nurtured and be able to develop their full potential which will reflect in work force retention and improve staff attendance and performance and in turn excellence in clinical and social care for our patients.
Dr Priya George
STW ICS Clinical Lead for Equality Diversity and Inclusion
Page last updated 19 October 2022