This week is National Hate Crime Awareness Week and Nottinghamshire Healthcare is sending out a clear message to those who abuse its staff, visitors, carers and service users that there is no place for hate as its ‘No Excuse for Abuse’ hate incident/crime campaign is launched for the second year.
A hate incident is any incident which the victim, or anyone else, believes is based on someone’s hostility or prejudice towards them because of their gender, mental health, race, religion or belief, sexual orientation, age, disability or gender identity whether real or perceived.
We spoke to Robert Mooken, the Trust’s Head of Quality Surveillance and BME Staff Network Co-chair, who shares his experience of racial discrimination and micro-aggressions, which had a profound impact on him at the time.
“I joined the NHS in the late 1990s on what was then on the old ‘F Grade’ equivalent and worked as a support manager for several years”, explains Robert. “Once gaining experience within the NHS I was keen to advance my career by moving into project management. In one specific year I applied for six project management roles within Nottingham, Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire but was unsuccessful every time. All my feedback suggested that I did not have the relevant work experience, that I came second place, or that the person appointed scored slightly higher than me or words to that effect.
I spoke to a work colleague regarding this to be told that “people like you don’t get jobs like that, come on how many black people do you see in those roles?… you do realise that the job is equivalent to a ‘G Grade’?” I was clearly shocked by his comments and because he was my senior I felt unable to challenge him and was lost for words. This had a profound impact on me and made me think that every time someone looks at me, they see my colour as a negative rather than seeing me for what I can offer and am capable of.
“However, I did have supervision with my sector manager at the time and told him in confidence about the conversation with my direct line manager but told him I didn’t want it taking any further. He was clearly frustrated with this but encouraged me not to give up and became a good mentor to me. A project management role later came up within Nottinghamshire Healthcare, which I applied for, got interviewed and was offered. The project I worked on was a national project which led me to winning an award, which in turn opened more opportunities for me.
“Being a victim of racially discriminatory behaviour and micro-aggressions has a significant psychological impact on the person. It can have long lasting effects and can change an individual’s perceptions and ways of thinking. Thankfully for me now, I have learned how to speak up and challenge when I need to. I will not let poor, discriminative behaviour stop me from achieving.”
Hate incidents are significantly underreported across society and it is no different for the Trust. Through its various Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Staff Networks, the NHS Staff Survey and Ulysses – its online incident reporting system, staff say that the most common form of hate incidents are racism and sexism (this includes misogyny and misandry). This is one of the many reasons why the Trust is addressing this important issue. The impact this has on staff and those who use the Trust’s services is often profound.
The Trust recognises that identifying and challenging racism, sexism and other types of hate can be difficult and continues to offer training workshops for all of its staff, giving them the opportunity to develop their skills, knowledge and confidence to take personal action and not stand by when they see people experiencing racism and other types of hate at work.
Anne-Maria Newham MBE, Chief Executive and Executive Champion for Hate Incidents, said “At Nottinghamshire Healthcare we take hate incidents and hate crimes very seriously. Any form of abuse, harassment or violence is not acceptable, and we need to do everything we can to address it when it happens. We are committed to ensuring that all our staff feel supported if they experience a hate incident or hate crime or feel able to report it if they see it happening. “We want to be really clear: we will not tolerate any form of abuse, harassment or violence against staff, visitors, carers and those who use our services, whether verbal, threatening or physical.
“Remarks or behaviour based on someone’s gender, mental health, race, religion or belief, sexual orientation, age, disability or gender identity will not be tolerated.”
The Trust’s ‘No Excuse for Abuse’ campaign also focuses on encouraging its staff, patients, visitors and carers to ‘See’ ‘Report’ ‘Support’ and to speak up and report any hate incidents if they see it happening and for staff to support those who experience it.
If you have seen or been a victim of a hate incident or hate crime we encourage you to report these to your local police force by calling 101 or dialling 999 in an emergency.