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Black History Month: Interview with Sheila Wright (Part 1)

Question 1: What does Black History Month mean to you? Why do you think it’s important to celebrate it?

I’d like to turn it on its head, because in an ideal world we would not need to have black history month. Black history would be part and parcel of history, not something hidden, not something which comes to the fore for one month in the year. 

But what black history month means to me is that it is one month in the year when people from BAME backgrounds can actually acknowledge, praise and celebrate those who have gone before us and those who are still working to improve the lot of black people.  It is important  that we know who these people are and that we do celebrate their achievements. I’d like to add to that it’s not just for black people, it’s for everyone to be aware of the contributions black people have made across societies near and far.

Question 2: What progress have you seen at Nottinghamshire Healthcare Trust in increasing inclusivity?

I think the most progress I have seen is around LGBTQ. I was part of a group of people who agreed with the board who said “yes, let’s apply for Stonewall, let’s look at what we do and how we do it”.  I can remember the first time we actually did the audit and the scores left an awful lot to be desired.  Over the years I’ve seen how Nottinghamshire Healthcare Trust, from an Executive Level, have actually embraced the issues, concerns and challenges around working with the LGBTQ community in its broadest sense, which I think has actually been excellent. I’m going to name someone here who actually kick-started this and it was the then Director of Nursing, Rachel Munton. She was the one who talked about Stonewall, about LGBT rights and needs, along with other protected characteristics. She was the one who championed this in a really positive way and there have been other staff since who have taken it forward. So, that is what I’ve seen in terms of inclusivity.

When I look at the position of black staff within the organisation, there has been a couple of appointments in to Associate Director roles but nothing any higher and I’m not quite sure how much of a shift  there has been lower down in the bandings.  I know that we are losing our experienced BAME staff to organisations on the other side of the motorway.  I am aware of a Deputy Associate Director of Nursing who is now the Nurse Director in Derbyshire.  We had another Associate Director of Nursing who is now Director of Nursing with Sheffield Health and Social Care.  I think we take the positions so far and then it is a case of they leave, for progression.  It would be nice to hold on to them and bring them through our own ranks.  The jury is out about progression, we do have the Workforce Race Equality Standards which does show some movement in one way and and then the opposite direction.  It’s going to take some time before we can actually say “over the last five years we have come from here and we are now there, or we’ve gone the other way”. However there have been slight shifts over the years but it does need more analysis.

Part two of the interview is available here.

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