NHS Lothian Equalities Network share their experiences of COVID-19 as part of an innovative programme of creative engagement

NHS Lothian Equalities Network share their experiences of COVID-19 as part of an innovative programme of creative engagement
June 28, 2021

Edinburgh and Lothians Health Foundation has today (28 June 2021) released the first in a series of creative engagements, produced in partnership with NHS Lothian’s Equalities Network, to celebrate the contribution of Black and Minority Ethnic (BME) staff during COVID-19.

COVID-19 has exacerbated, and given a public spotlight to, the pre-existing health inequalities BME communities have been exposed to historically. It is these inequalities which highlighted the need to provide additional support for BME staff across NHS Lothian, and look afresh at what needs to change in attitudes and practices to continue to move towards a working environment where these inequalities no longer exist.

‘My Story Is Your Story’ shares interviews with BME staff talking about their experiences during COVID-19, the challenges they faced and the changes they want to see happen.

This film is part of a creative programme, led by Tonic Arts, Edinburgh and Lothians Health Foundation’s Arts in Health and Wellbeing programme, working together with the Equalities Networks to develop a range of equalities, diversity, and inclusion resources for use across NHS Lothian, and enhance the work that is already taking place in the organisation to broaden views and improve culture.

This innovative programme, called 360 Visions, uses theatre, storytelling, music and filmmaking to understand NHS Lothian BME staff experiences of the COVID-19 pandemic from an equalities perspective and explore the multi-faceted challenges faced not only by BME staff, but also by Disabled, LGBT+ and Youth staff members.

The aim is to help open a door for all colleagues to gain awareness of the difficulties faced on a daily basis, both in and outside of work, and why change needs to happen. It bridges a gap to enable staff to further educate themselves about the daily struggles, in order to create a culture of inclusivity, diversity and acceptance which allows positive changes to be achieved.

NHS Lothian has come a long way to improve culture and diversity and COVID-19 has reinforced that there is still work to be done. As part of this ongoing work, the 360 Visions creative programme will help provide a platform for diverse viewpoints to be voiced and heard, celebrating the incredible work and diversity of NHS Lothian.

Angela Gray, Arts Participation and Engagement Manager, said:
“Working with the Equalities Network has been a really positive experience. Collaborating with diverse staff groups, hearing their stories and learning about their experiences really helped me understand the challenges they have faced as a result of the pandemic and historically. Our hope is that the ‘My Story Is Your Story’ film will help raise awareness of and celebrate the essential role of BME staff across NHS Lothian.

“The whole 360 Visions project has been a way for the Tonic Arts team at Edinburgh and Lothians Health Foundation to combine our creative skills with the expertise of the Equalities Networks, to enhance the support already in place by NHS Lothian and provide staff with an opportunity to creatively tell their stories.

“It has been a privilege to collaborate with the Equalities Networks and deliver this innovative programme. I hope that it will foster a widespread change in attitudes and behaviours, helping to create a space where everyone feels valued for the important contribution they make. This is the first time we have worked with the NHS Lothian Equalities Networks and we look forward to continuing to work together and to build on the success of this project. Thanks so much to everyone who participated in the is project and made this possible. ”

Rakiya Suleman, Equality and Diversity Adviser, said:
“To have the opportunity through this project to tell our stories, talk about our fears, share our hopes for the future and know that people are listening, has been really important for me.

“Irrespective of skin colour, culture, religion, or gender, we all have the same goal – to work together to provide the best possible care for our patients. We all have a story to tell. Stories of how we make a difference in our role, the challenges we’ve had to overcome, and the changes we want to see made.

“Sharing our personal experiences was difficult, but I’m proud of my colleagues for being open and honest so that others could truly understand the challenges we face and the fears that we have. Hopefully ‘My Story Is Your Story’ is a first step in not only recognising the issues but also changing attitudes and behaviours so that we can all make positive changes going forward and celebrate the contribution made by all staff.

“Being scared, anxious, and missing family members, these are things we can all relate to. I said in my interview, my story is your story. We are all in this together and this is an opportunity to learn, to work together, to address inequality and make a change.”

Calum Campbell, Chief Executive for NHS Lothian, said:
“As an employer and healthcare provider we state without reservation that all staff and patients must be treated equally irrespective of skin colour, culture, religion, or gender. We support the fundamental need for equality and inclusion at the heart of what we stand for. It’s important that we, as staff and representatives of NHS Lothian, treat one another with care, compassion, dignity, and respect. These are a key part of our organisation values.”

‘My Story Is Your Story’ is part of a series of creative engagements celebrating the diversity of NHS Lothian. It was made possible thanks to donations made to the Charity’s COVID-19 Appeal as well as grants received from NHS Charities Together.

Watch ‘My Story Is Your Story’: