During October, we celebrated Black History Month and the invaluable contributions of Black people to British society – including those working within health and care services.
Throughout the month, Tania Aloko held in-person workshops across our four main hospital sites, training colleagues how best to care for afro hair and black skin.
The workshops were held at Royal Sussex County Hospital, The Alex, St Richard’s, Princess Royal and Worthing hospitals. They included a presentation on skin and haircare, training aids for staff to familiarise themselves with the different textures of afro hair, storytelling and time for questions.
One colleague who attended the workshops said: “You have given me a lot of insight, not just into hair and skin care, but issues around ethnicity, religion, culture and understanding. Your gentle, calm delivery was so engaging, but your passion and your want to get this done shone through. Thank you so much and good luck with spreading your much needed teaching throughout the Trust.”
This year, NHS Sussex also celebrated Black History Month with a series of planned activities, talks and resources to help leave a legacy of improved care and health outcomes for our diverse communities.
These included three talks for health and care professionals to shine a spotlight on the health inequalities faced by our ethnically diverse people.
The talks – on the subjects of cancer, caring for black hair and skin, and improving perinatal care – will help inform how we can better meet the needs of the diverse community we serve.
Black History of Sussex Bus Tour
During the month, there was an opportunity for staff, family and friends to learn more about Sussex’s local black history on a dedicated bus tour led by Bert Williams MBE, President and co-founder of Brighton & Hove Black History Month.
Travelers rode on the Thomas Highflyer Heritage Bus – named after a former slave who was born in East Africa and who later lived and died in Brighton – to visit Brighton and Sussex cultural landmarks, looking back over the last 4,500 years, from Neolithic to modern times.
The tour culminated at the Royal Sussex County Hospital where people were welcomed into a Black History Month celebration event with delicious African and Caribbean food and refreshments.
Bert then gave a Sussex Black History talk in the Heritage Space, Louisa Martindale Building, which was followed up by the launch of a new Black History Month cookbook, and speeches from staff network chairs across Sussex.
Being an anti-racist organisation
UHSussex is committed to being an inclusive organisation and continuing to have appropriate specialist expertise through our EDI team working with our trade unions and networks, taking decisive steps to do better at race equality.
We have our Equality, Diversity, and Inclusion Plan to help address these disparities, including an Inclusive Recruitment working group, a Pay Gap working group, and a Violence Prevention and Reduction Plan.
Together with health and care leaders across Sussex, our anti-racism statement is as follows:
There is no place for racism in Sussex. We recognise the impact that racist behaviours have on our workforce is devastating. We want people to feel safe and to thrive. It is our responsibility to create safe, inclusive and supportive working environments and stamp out racism when we see it. We stand firmly together with our partners in being committed to tackling institutional and interpersonal racism in all its forms. We commit to listening, monitoring and continually evaluating our practice because we recognise that good anti-racist practice for our workforce leads to better care for our patients and our population.
Looking ahead to the future, Jourdan Durairaj, Head of Equalities and Inclusion, said: “Our Chief Executive, Dr George Findlay will be our new Board sponsor for race equality. We hope by taking this move, we signal to everyone here, and to our staff and the people of Sussex that we serve, the importance with which we pursue this cause. This is the beginning of a new chapter for us, and there will be a lot more to announce in the coming weeks and months, but we must recognise where we have come from and honour those who have come before us.”
For more information about our Equality, Diversity, and Inclusion Plan, please email [email protected].