Champions of the network have dedicated their time to help start the conversation and instigate change in the organisation.
Charity Gladstone, community matron from Liskeard, is passionate about ensuring ethnic minority colleagues feel at ease and supported in their working environment. She said: “I had wanted to open up a space for ethnic minority people to discuss and share their views for some time, as did my fellow champion Viral. Following the Black Lives Matter movement combined with the disparity between medical professionals from the BAME community falling victim to COVID-19, I knew it was time.”
Before forming the network Charity found she didn’t have anyone to speak to about the challenges she faced at work.
“I felt they didn’t want to talk about it in the workplace and found it hard to open up the conversation with my colleagues, partly because it was an issue that didn’t affect them.”
“We hope through the BAME network to signify to medical professionals that are looking to move into our healthcare system that we are here for them and there is a community of ethnic minority people here. Historically rural areas were hostile places for BAME people and whilst there’s sometimes a denial of racism in Cornwall it’s hoped through opening up the forum to discuss topics such as race we can make a better workplace for all,” Charity continued.
“Most of all I want our members to feel celebrated, know that people value you and that you are looked after,” concluded Charity.
Adrian Flynn, interim joint medical director, has been advocating for the health and mental wellbeing of CFT staff throughout the coronavirus pandemic. He said: “We want everybody working in the NHS in Cornwall to feel a sense of belonging and value. Recent events, in particular, those coming out of the Black Lives Matter movement and also the disproportionate impact of the COVID pandemic on BAME colleagues have led us to question whether that sense of belonging and value is held by everyone.”
Adrian continued: “I hope that the establishment of a BAME network is one step towards ensuring that everybody feels that their distinct contribution is looked for and appreciated. I hope the network is also a step towards ensuring that everyone feels a valued part of the NHS and that any racism experienced while working in our organisations becomes a thing of the past.”
The BAME network will bring about the transformation required, with the main goal of creating a more inclusive and accepting society for colleagues and people who use the services of CFT. By listening to the voices of their ethnic minority colleagues and community to better understand the root of the issues and work together to agree what changes are needed.
Phil Confue, chief executive officer of CFT, said: “Cornwall Partnership NHS Foundation Trust does not tolerate racism or discrimination of any kind within the organisation. However the recently formed BAME network goes further than this by not only promoting inclusivity of minority ethnic cultures but giving these colleagues the space to shape how services are run for them and other BAME patients and clients.”
The network spanning across Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly will provide the space for health workers to discuss their lives and highlight to the trust the challenges they have faced and the impact this has had on their health, safety, wellbeing, economic, career and life opportunities.
CFT has said by listening to and understanding these issues it can make sure that everyone who works across the trust feels valued in an inclusive society, whilst at work and home.
The network meets virtually on a monthly basis and the meetings are open to all colleagues within CFT and NHS Kernow as well as general practitioners, pharmacists and healthcare workers in Cornwall. Email the BAME network for more information and an invitation to the next meeting.