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Race Equality Network shows an appetite to celebrate diversity

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Race Equality Network shows an appetite to celebrate diversity
14 August 2020

July 2020 saw the launch of 3 new staff equality networks at Isle of Wight NHS Trust, the first being the Race Equality Network.

The networks are an important step for our organisation and for our people who we care for and those that work here as part of our renewed commitment of putting people first, valuing our difference and promoting inclusion.

For Dr Asim the Race Equality Network signalled an opportunity to be part of something that will work to make a positive difference to BAME staff and to help educate others.

We caught up with Asim, who lives in Sandown with his wife and 2 children, to find out a little bit more about him and why he is excited about the future of the network and our Trust.

I started at the Trust 2 years ago working in the Emergency Department, before moving to the Medical Assessment Unit in January 2019.

I was originally born in Pakistan however my parents then moved to Abu Dhabi when I was 4 months old. In 1995 I went to medical school in Romania and was there until 2001; after I qualified I went back to Pakistan and worked in acute medicine until 2009.

I then moved back to Abu Dhabi, continuing to work in emergency medicine and stayed there until I moved to the UK in 2018.

What made you want to move to the UK?

It was on a particular shift that really solidified my decision to move to the UK, I was racially abused by a patient and for me it was the catalyst after several similar experiences that made my mind up to relocate.

It was and still is really important to me that my family can live in an environment without having to be exposed to these levels of discrimination and this kind of behaviour was not something I wanted my children to be having to deal with.

I felt that the UK was a good example of a diverse society. I want my children to understand the positives that racial diversity can bring to a community and I felt that the UK would be somewhere where we would be welcome.

What made you choose the Isle of Wight as somewhere to come and work?

There were lots of things for me to factor in before I made a decision. I had a couple of choices including a city in the north of the country; however I did my research into crime rate, quality of schools and the general environment and the Island came out on top by far.

Why did you decide to join the Race Equality Network?

Although I personally haven’t faced any issues since moving to the island and I feel our Trust is a prime example of what diversity is on the Island and saw this as an opportunity to build on that.

When I saw it advertised I felt that this was a chance for me to bring my ideas to help make things even better for our people. I want to be an asset to the Trust and our community and help educate our people to see that diversity is a good thing and it should be celebrated.

For me I can see that our Trust has an appetite to do better, we can all agree that things have not always been right but I recognise that we want to move on, find solutions and make positive changes.

One thing that I am really keen to make an improvement on, with the support of the network, is how we can make our BAME staff feel more welcome when they join the Trust, particularly if they have come from overseas.

COVID could have been a real issue for our organisation and our people however everyone from all backgrounds worked together for the safety of our Island community.

How did you think the first meeting went?

I felt that it was very positive and the fact we are even creating a network sends out a good message to our staff and our community. I think the network will help to provide a forum that will identify things to improve on and make people feel more welcome in out Trust.

In the first network meeting we discussed ideas around how we could celebrate different cultures such as National Filipino Day or Nigerian National Day and how everyone can be a part of it. It would be great if we could hold a social gathering where people could dress in the traditional clothing and we could eat national dishes and generally learn about each other’s backgrounds more.

A few other really simple things that we are looking into is sourcing more Bookers cards so we don’t have to make regular trips over to Southampton to get our halal meat. We also discussed labelling the food in our hospital canteen to see if it is halal or not.

What would you say to someone who was thinking about joining the network?

I always think of myself as a human first before I am a doctor, a Muslim or a Pakistani and I think that there is definitely something for me about educating everyone and we all have a responsibility to do that.

If you want something to change then you need to be part of the conversation and approach it in a positive way.

I feel that we all have a role to play in making important changes for our future generations, what we are doing now will have an impact on our children and their experiences. Let’s set an example for them and make a difference.

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