Black History Month was celebrated in style at the Holiday Inn, Bexley on Tuesday 23 October by staff from around the trust.
Organised annually by our Black and Minority Ethnic (BME) Staff Network, the event is an opportunity for staff to share their history, cultural traditions, dress, language and personal journeys in life.
Master of ceremonies was Mishek Saineti, BME Staff Network Chair, who said: “Our celebration of Black History Month should not just focus on the past. Black history is a vital part of our modern society. In Oxleas, we are successful in the way we provide treatment and care to patients because we rely on the strengths of all our staff. It is that spirit of inclusion and diversity that has made today’s Oxleas a wonderful and great place to work, strong and rich with culture. Let us embrace our different cultures.”
The lively audience of around 100, many dressed in colourful traditional costume, cheered and clapped their appreciation of the speakers whose topics included career progression and the challenges of change in the NHS.
Speaking from the heart, Dr Anthony Akenzua, Clinical Director, Adult Acute Mental Health Services, advised: “Care and compassion are central to what we do. It’s not about money, it comes from the heart. When you are compassionate to others you find happiness yourself.”
Deborah Palmer, Secretary of the BME Staff Network, said that the network is backed by the trust Board and commented on the recent success of the mentoring scheme for BME staff. She said: “Today's event values the contribution BME communities make to British society and to Oxleas. It is an opportunity to acknowledge BME histories and look to the future. A vibrant and effective BME Staff Network can only improve the working environment for all staff."
Vivienne Lyfar-Cisse, NHS BME Network Lead, gave a motivational talk in which she encouraged the audience to find their voice and to be the best they can be.
A highlight of the day was the entertainment by Brina, whose effortless sweeping vocals wowed the crowd. Brina, short for Sabrina, is from Jamaica and sang movingly in English and Swahili.
The day was brought to a close by our Medical Director, Dr Ify Okocha who has been named as one of the 100 most influential Black people in Britain and was earlier this year invited with his wife to the Queen’s Golden Jubilee celebration in St Paul’s Cathedral.