Where are you really from?
This year has been historical – and devastating – with COVID-19 and BLM impacting all of us, especially black and minority ethnic (BAME) groups, who have borne the brunt of the deadliness of the current pandemic.
It will have escaped no one that, of those on the NHS frontline who lost their lives to COVID-19, a significant proportion were of BAME heritage. While many theories abound as to why this is the case, it remains a fact. Dedicated NHS workers from varied roles have been affected, with the situation ongoing as we now face a second wave of COVID-19. These challenges have thrown racial identity under the spotlight.
There has been much focus on the negative connotations of ethnicity, which relate to inequality, immigration and prejudice. But there is another side to the NHS. Founded in 1948, the NHS employs more than 1.4 million people – making it the largest employer in the UK. It is estimated that one in five of all NHS employees are from a BAME background. Where are you really from? will pay tribute to this unique organisation and the NHS global diaspora.
About the book
This project will record the lives and contributions from people of BAME heritage who have come from all corners of the world to make the UK and the NHS their home. Some are second generation immigrants who were born here; others were born in far lands. Due to their skin colour or accent, chances are they have all been asked: Where are you really from?
The thrust of the project will bring the remarkable stories of these individuals to the forefront of our consciousness. We will speak to porters, receptionists, doctors, nurses, canteen staff, laboratory staff, administrators and more. We hope the project will serve as a historical reminder of the role, efforts and sacrifices of BAME staff within the NHS. When the sound of clapping fades, this project will endure.
We wish to be clear that the contribution of BAME staff does not for a second detract from the dedication and sacrifices made by non-BAME staff. Their role is not any less worthy of recognition but with the current spotlight on race and equality within the NHS, it is time that the BAME community came together as one to share their stories. This book will be a tangible way to show appreciation and to offer help, as all profits will go to a registered charity that will allocate funds to NHS employees in need.
We will showcase the rich diversity of the NHS workforce across the country through a book entitled Where are you really from? which will contain stories from NHS staff from the BAME community. Staff will describe their experience of working in the NHS and their own personal journey. We hope to cover the breadth of the country as well as the broadest scope of the NHS workforce – and will not focus only on doctors and nurses. A photograph of each person will be placed alongside their words. In addition, we hope this book will show positive role models for future generations who are considering a career in the NHS.
We already have the support of four high-profile celebrity patrons –Jofra Archer – England fast bowler, Sanjeev Bhaskar – prominent TV personality, Isa Guha, ex-England cricketer and Test Match Special commentator and Ainsley Harriott – celebrity TV chef and author. This line up shows huge early support for this project and the potential national impact it will have in raising awareness around this topic. This list is based on positive responses from those named to date – we are confident that this list will grow.
We have engaged with the registered Brighton and Sussex University Hospital (BSUH) Charity, which is linked to the hospital where the project founder (Dr Chet Trivedy) works, with a view to all proceeds of the book going towards NHS staff support.
Depending upon the pandemic, we plan to have a face-to-face launch of the book in July 2021 or October 2021– coinciding with the NHS birthday or Black History Month – and hope to attract nationwide media coverage.
Other aims include raising money for NHS staff welfare, particularly those affected by COVID-19 and providing positive BAME role models for the future NHS workforce.