Still I Rise Collaboration
A selection of writing from the participants.
DR Owen Williams OBE. Northern Care Alliance NHS Group . Chief Executive
“Some thoughts from one "senior gatekeeper" to the next. Let us wean ourselves off “conscience cleansing” and work hard at honing our “diversiast” skills. At the same time let us embrace “head-hunter shaping” rather than letting them shape us.”
Consultant Anaesthetist, Salford Royal Hospital
Sedation advisor to the Royal College of Anaesthetists
Co-director of National Safe Sedation course
I love my job. From the intellectual rigour behind the safe delivery of anaesthetics, to hands-on clinical work enabling safe surgery, to the administration of effective pain relief to the patient. It never gets boring for me.
It feels amazing at times that I even made it as a consultant. Daily racial microaggressions are exhausting to experience, and I wonder if the more subtle tools of white supremacy exist just to wear down the victim. After all, how can one explain the subtle head-nod, or a mis-placed comment or ‘feedback’ to justify the appointment of an under-qualified and under-experienced peer. Every person of colour recognises it exactly for what it is, yet it appears to be a herculean task to prove, evidently not every act of discrimination requires fanfare ensuring the incident is barely perceptible to those in HR who mandate equality and diversity. Have you ever wondered who makes the rules?
Perhaps we are all just that bit crapper than white doctors, though the evidence fails to support this assumption, and the damning effect of racial bias in healthcare shows that minority patients have better outcomes when treated by minority doctors. We are needed.
Almost 20 years into my medical career, I now feel comfortable in my surroundings, I am hugely privileged to work in a fantastically diverse and talented department, and for the first time, life feels easy. I do observe some progress, though it is far too slow to be tangible. Moving forwards, I am determined that at least within my immediate vicinity, this cycle of trauma ends with me. I have lived my life enmeshed in racism and my purpose moves to ensure no junior doctor experiences what I have done - I will ruffle feathers.
Christina Lipede, BSc, MBBS, FRCS Plast, European Hand Diploma
My scrub hat – I use it to fit my large afro in as many hospitals and institutions do not provide hats big enough to fit afro hair appropriately. Many nurses and doctors have to wear several hats to cover their hair which can be a point of ridicule. Some have suggested cutting hair to fit the hat when really we could cut the cloth to fit the individual.
Faith, Determination and Focus are my key principles that made me who I am today.
Faith enabled me to believe in myself that I could be who I wanted to be; it also makes me feel strongly that God created me for a good purpose of adding values to people’ lives and giving hope to the hopeless.
Determination enabled me to keep fighting and pressing towards my goal, even when I felt so tired and weak, the inner strength ignited me and all I could see, despite all odds, was climbing up, breaking all barriers, and pressing towards the goal set before me.
Focus gave me the inner strength to overcome every barrier and concentrate on my goal. I set my eyes on that goal, never looking around for pity, and deafened my ears to any words that could discourage me.
Indeed, I did it. I got it. Yes, I achieved it.
A paragraph would be: “women are the backbone of the society and would do everything in their power to build a community. I’m a community builder and connector “
I'm Pipeeh S. Miyalu, one of the co-founding members of Warm Hut UK, a Refugee Community Organisation (RCO) based in Salford with branches in Wigan and Manchester which has been providing emotional wellbeing support including additional social support to the Francophone, Lusophone and Lingala phone African population primarily but not exclusively in Greater Manchester since 2009. 80% of our service users are women and young girls who have lived experience of domestic violence, FGM, trauma due to exile and I’m actively involved in churches and faith groups, and I’m committed to making the problem of sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV) a critical concern. I initiated the Let’s Bloom Together initiative to educate community faith leaders about child abuse reporting requirements, the importance of confidentiality and women’s safety issues, I promote the right to be free from violence, such as teachings that support equality and respect for women and girls. I encourage faith leaders and leaders of churches, other spiritual or faith-based groups to seek training on survivor experiences and on support that will restore and heal the survivor. I created the Wellbeing Group for survivors to discuss their experiences and needs and encourage women and young girls to discuss sexual assault, dating and domestic violence, and stalking within their faith communities in a manner sensitive to their cultures and backgrounds. I initiated the Golden Age Programme (G.A.P) to campaign against violence and witchcraft accusations against older people within their faith communities and working with faith leaders to ensure that measures are in place to deter any future false accusations of witchcraft, making sure that older women can lead safe and secure lives.
I have a first-class honour- BA(Hons) in Healthcare management with more than 20 year experience of programme management, evaluation and monitoring, fundraising and community development. I'm also a member of the Chartered Management Institute (CMI) with Level 5 Certificate in Management and Leadership.
Having been racially abused last year was the first time I experienced those negative feelings. It shook me. It worried me. It angered me.
If we look at children, they have no racial or other biases. Then why do we?
I am a strong believer in education being a vehicle to teach tolerance and acceptance of others. This then translate into wider implications for our larger society.
We should enjoy the ‘colour’ that the variety of cultures bring rather than be happy with our black and white, grainy image.
Next time you come in contact with someone you think is culturally different, have a conversation. And you will realise they have the very same dreams and aspirations as you.
As young black men we are criminalised at a young age and conditioned for spending a lifetime in and out of a jail cell. A lot of the time, black boys don’t have their father around while growing up. Even if we do, sometimes our fathers aren’t a good example of how to be a successful man.
There is an insane lack of black male teachers and black male role models overall. A lot of black boys must try to figure out how to be a man on their own. We end up looking at peers and older men around us. We don’t have anyone to tell us toxic masculinity isn’t something we want to give in to. There’s no one to say, “Hold your head up. You’re destined for greatness.”
I taught myself how to tie my tie, cook and groom myself with YouTube. I hope I can inspire the next generation of young black men to be better men and love themselves.
I grew up in an area that was solely white and faced racism off other children, the kids in my year were fantastic and would stick up for me, I was very aware I didn’t look like them or my family, my dad’s Jamaican but was estranged for many years so I had little connection to my roots, I dealt with racism by smiling so they didn’t know it hurt. In my Adult life I had noticed Minor acts of stereotypical attitudes “What you don’t smoke cannabis” was just one that popped up a lot. I once challenged my former employer when a manger boldly said They’re Black they can’t drive! This was swept under the carpet and ignored I looked more deeply at my employment and seen numerous jibes at my ethnicity, so I raised the complaint formally to be told it was out of time, I left that employment and have never looked back. I currently work within the supported tenancies division of Salford council I have never felt any undertones of racism or felt inferior to my colleagues I love my job and my clients.
I have chosen to have my picture took wearing my Uniform, this is a salute to the organisation I have volunteered with for the past 7yrs The Army Cadet Force, we all wear the same uniform despite our gender, colour, religion, cultural belief, disability, sexuality. They helped me back up when my former employer had made me feel worthless and they have shown me you can do whatever you put your mind to, I am a local Detachment Commander with nearly 20 young people attending weekly if I can inspire or empower one young person to either stand up to an adversary or chase their dream my job is done. I have recently been encouraged to become a commissioned officer within the cadet force a journey I would never of dreamed of starting. But now I know i am worthy and can!!
"It is only when I am asked to sit down and write something like this that I reflect on the journey that has taken me from growing up in Barrow-in-Furness, as a mixed-race kid in the local comprehensive school where having one parent of colour was deemed culturally extreme! (There were probably less than 20 non-white students in the 750 across the 5 years.) To where I am now.
Recently I was back home and bumped into an old school friend who asked what I did these days. My reply was that I worked in elite sport, as an Orthopaedic Surgeon providing operative and non-operative care for some of the country’s top sports people including the National Football Team and many Olympic Athletes. His response? ‘You luck b*****d!’ To which I said, ‘that’s a bit harsh mate!’ He replied “you don’t remember do you? When we were 15 and in school, I remember that I asked you what you wanted to do when you grew up? You said your dream was to be a doctor working in elite sport! How many of us are lucky enough to live their dream?”
Only at such moments do I sit back and think, yeah, I am doing alright here! Having overcome obvious obstacles and difficulties that come with being a little different, it has left me thinking that if someone like me can do this anyone can!
But my ambition to go further is still there. I have professional goals in mind when it comes to elite sport and I continue to work hard to try and achieve them. Hopefully one day I will. Not just to say that I have helped professional sportspeople but all of my patients to the best that I can. Whether that was helping a player be fit for the World Cup, an athlete being selected for the Olympics or just as importantly fixing a shoulder in a patient so that she can lift her grandchild pain free or fixing a man’s knee so he can have a kick around with his son, all cases that stick with me to this day.
Then I can maybe sit back when I retire and be very proud of what I have done in my career, hopefully to say that I have truly lived my dream!"
From St Raphael Estate, Neasden to Alexandra Park Estate, Moss Side growing up it wasn’t always safe to be outside.
Born and raised by a single mother but never felt like I needed another. Love was her strongest strength… Tell that to my behind as it is still unsure what that meant. She taught me to have attitude, gratitude, and humility. To understand that this life was a blessing given to us and an opportunity to help humanity know matter a person race, religion, or gender.
From growing as a teenager to become a proud father, I expected the latter to be harder. Less opportunities and an unfair playground, being wrote off because of the colour of my skin or background. Setting an example for my future generation, they call him black they need re-education. Despite the fight we will succeed, I’ve seen enough son to take lead. Time for change but not knowing what to do. Finally given an opportunity… To Salford, I Thank you.
Formed part of a family regardless of colour, feeling a love like I received from my mother. Hard work complete and vision now clear as I can now call myself a Professional Civil Engineer.
"I see myself as a happy person and an optimist but only because of the circumstances in my life that affords me the luxury of being able to feel/be that. I have a wonderfully supportive family that allows me the time and energy towards my career goals. Some days I feel like I live at the hospital and even when home, I can't detach myself away from the pressures of work/emails/papers/business cases. To see my children's smiling faces puts everything into perspective again. It is a cliché, but they truly brighten up the darkest days.
Some days I chose to be Happy, and sometimes these are the most satisfying days. These are often the days where I manage to turn something negative around. A day made even better by a kind word from a colleague, patient or friend and family.
I am grateful for my teachers and mentors whom I look up to and who I aspire to be like. I am also grateful to those I chose not to model myself on as they show me what I don't want to be. I am grateful for my colleagues who support me and my endeavours to help my patients. I am grateful for my patients who challenge me and keep me striving to be better. I am eternally grateful for my family who ground me and encourage me to be the best version of myself.
I guess I don't label myself as any specific race or gender specific surgeon, but I do label myself as a Happy person and Happy surgeon, and I am extremely grateful to be able to do that.
I have always enjoyed working with people of all ages without any discrimination. I was driven by the desire to help them to meet their needs and inspire them to do the same to the same for people they associate with. This motive use to make me consider a career choice of either Law, Teaching, or Medicine. I had an interest in science and was encouraged to take up medicine by my parents and siblings (We were six siblings ant three of us took up medicine). My parents believed in good education and created an interest in all of us to achieve the best in our chosen career. My husband is a retired paediatrician and I have a daughter and two lovely grandsons, and they all have been very supportive. My sister, also a doctor, has worked with me in Salford, and her help has been much appreciated.
I came to England in February 1968 and joined my induction in gynaecology under Mr Simpson at Mount Vernon hospital in Northwood within 3 days of arriving! This was followed by a number of hospital jobs in obstetrics and gynaecology. My focus remained on my jobs. It was a challenge to find a job in one’s chosen speciality and hospital. Many overseas graduates had to change to specialities with less competition.
It was a common knowledge that overseas educated doctors were second in line with regard to appointment with very few exceptions. This did not deter those who were determined and committed to their goal; inequality, discrimination, and unfairness existed in almost every organisation It affected some people adversely and resulted in mental health issues sometimes resulting in loss of life.
About 43 years ago I decided to set up my own practice. This gave me ability to do things according to my professional standing and without being exposed to discrimination. I felt confident that my attitude towards all members of society and total commitment to health-related problems would soon be recognised.
I am glad to say that I was well liked by my patients, and they are very grateful for the services they have received from me. I am fortunate to have had good staff.
Raj Jain, Former Chief Executive, Northern Care Alliance NHS Group
‘My dad was an ice cream seller, having never been given the opportunity to pursue his chosen career because back then he even struggled to get a roof over our heads because of the “colour bar” let alone get a job with prospects . Those experiences and my ethnicity gave me the opportunity to add something different, it motivated me to work even harder, it drives my passion to support fair opportunities for all’
Shahnara Begum, (Salford Safeguarding Children Partnership) SSCP Workforce Development Manager, Salford City Council
We were always told to work and become something. This was continually drilled into us, perhaps because my parents knew we had to work harder as they did to get somewhere and prepared us to really stand out and achieve, which meant working harder and consistently doing a lot more than everyone else to ‘deserve’ a place in society.
Tara Leach, Head of Race Equality Charter, University of Salford
I am very much the product of my mother’s spirit and energy. From a young age she taught me to stand up for myself and speak my voice, even if my words are unpopular, even if there is consequence to speaking out – as long as it is my truth. Through her example she gave me the permission to be fearless and, as American activist Maggie Kuhn said, to ‘speak your mind even if your voice shakes’.
‘DIVERSITY is having a seat at the table, INCLUSION Is having a voice and BELONGING is having that voice heard’
Dionne Duffill, Workforce Development Officer, Salford City Council
‘So when I hear the question ‘what difference does it make?’ I can say hand on heart that working towards inclusion is about changing practice in the short term and the culture and experiences for our future generations. Working to make my grandparents and parents proud and pushing forwards for BAME young people’.
Tracy Tsikai, Infection Prevention and Control Nurse, Greater Manchester Mental Health NHS Foundation Trust
This poem summarises my journey so far and where I am.
“There are times that this world makes me feel smaller than I am. Times when I feel unworthy of the space of which I take and the air which I breathe. Times that I need to remind myself that I, myself , am whole and that no one or nothing can make me feel less than I allow them to. Times I need to remember that I am to be unapologetic of my existence and live with the certainty that I am remarkable.
The ocean does not apologise for its depth and the mountains do not seek forgiveness for the space they take and so, neither shall I”. Becca Lee.
Hormoz Ahmadzadeh, Mental Health Champion and Director Result CIC
‘ I have wondered what you may see or think when you look at my portrait?
Will you see:
- someone who is an immigrant, gay, and has been on a journey of self-discovery leading to this day?
- a dignified man proud of his achievements? Someone whose work includes supporting people who are marginalised in society?
And yet there are signs of some scars too. So you may or may not see the impact of the major breakdown I had 20 years ago which lasted for 2 years. The man who hit the very bottom before starting his gradual recovery. The man who only got here because of the discovery that being your authentic self is the only thing that will make you happy. And surrounded by a caring partner, family and friends, learning the hard way, to really love.
Edward Vitalis, Governing Body Lay Member (Finance and Governance), NHS Salford Clinical Commissioning Group
When you look at me what do you see? Now look through the lens of our children.
A Salford father observed his son’s interaction with a group of his friends. He said to his son, “son I am so proud of you”. So his son asks “why dad?” the father replies, “because you are clearly mixing it up with your friends’ son. They are male, female, black, white, Asian, Jewish, gay and straight. What a diverse mix, I am so proud of you”. His son does not understand and asks “what do you mean dad? They are just my mates”.
Whilst our journey continues, let’s not lose sight of what we are already achieving. One day we will celebrate simply being a community of people.
“I don't like that man. I must get to know him better.”
― Abraham Lincoln
Eunice Ayodeji, Lecturer in Child and Adolescent Mental Health Nursing / Mental Health Practitioner (CAMHS), University of Salford
What do YOU see?
Imagine a little girl , say 8 years young, making a journey from home to school on a red dust road. Imagine her hopes , dreams, ambitions, inspirations . Imagine the journey she would take in her mind.
Now imagine her making the journey from a small village in Ghana, speaking only her mother tongue (Twi), to Mental health nurse, to university lecturer in Child and adolescent mental health. Imagine.
Delana Lawson, Chief Officer, Healthwatch Salford
‘I’m comfortable in Salford and feel at ease being myself especially as Chief Officer for Healthwatch Salford. I aim to emulate the dignity and strength and perseverance of my mum but also I have had some great mentors black/white, male/female, young and old who have raised me up when I’ve been on my arse! I will never let them down and I’ve been humbled by the acceptance, support, compassion and encouragement given to me. This is who we really are. I’m British, We are BRITISH!’
A message from a Black-African, Muslim, Arabic-speaking, Migrant Worker Woman to racists, Islamophobes, sexists, Xenophobes and discriminatory beings that are happy to practice their ignorance whenever they choose.
“We are products of distorted world that was created when kindness, justice and humanity were ignored by you.
Your hatred will only make me pity you, what a lost soul.
Be ready, as I will challenge your ignorance! Your unreasoned hatred is disgraceful.
My dignity and resilience bother you
my morals and principles bother you
my stamina and success bother you
my mere existence bothers you.
Stay bothered, as I will continue to prosper and shine.
I am not going away
get used to living bothered
for I exist”
You may see
A man of colour
How I smile
In a world
Add to the divisions
In ignorance that's bliss.
Still I rise
The way it is.
You may ask me
How I do it?
I find the drive?
In the face
Of such adversity
Why it is I try?
I want to answer,
I just don't have the time.
making changes -
So it is,
For all of those
Who see me
Through prejudicial eyes,
who do not see at all
Beyond society's lies,
Does my happiness
You will deny.
you are the reason
That I proceed
with your coloured views,
Beat me with your words.
My bludgeoned head
Will never bow,
On equal ground,
Shove me to the floor.
Still I will
That little more.
the quiet whisper
Uttered on the boats,
rise up now
In these poetic notes
I, the rattle
of the shackles
That tethered us
Rise as a reminder
We're seperated never.
I, the ravaged motherland
Known as home of past
to my people
"Rise my people - fast"
the washed up refugee
On the morning beach -
"Please hear my spirit speak -
Please rise up
with fates that were
meant to be.
Elevate to elevate,
Rise up side by side;
And butterflies that float -
Rise my people..