A look back on Black History Month 2020 at EPUT

November 2, 2020

We spoke to David Uzosike, interim chair of the Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic staff network at EPUT, to gather his reflections on the success of Black History Month this year:

I would firstly like to thank all of those involved in our celebrations this year. We were unable to hold our usual face to face events due to the current pandemic, so instead we held numerous online events and looked at other ways to mark the month.


Our first Black History Month event, on Monday 12 October, led by EPUT and Princess Alexandra Hospital NHS Trust (PAHT), celebrated Black History Month and the contributions, perspectives and lived experiences of staff from both organisations. Guest speakers included Professor Dame Elizabeth Nneka Anionwu, author of Mixed Blessings from a Cambridge Union and Dr Joan Myers OBE, Director and Trustee, Florence Nightingale Foundation, who spoke about navigating career challenges with resilience.

Our second Black History Month event, ‘Open to all: Black Histories, Black Futures: BHM 2020 at PAHT’ was also a huge success. The BAME networks from EPUT and PAHT were delighted to host a discussion about the impacts of the last year on Black leadership networks and mental health, joined by two pioneers in their field, Rob Neil, OBE, Culture Change Ambassador at the Department for Education and Marcel Vige, Head of Equality Improvement at Mind.

Our third event was held on Tuesday 27 October and was titled; Big Conversations – Being an ally to Black, Asian and Minority Ethnicity (BAME) Staff. Equality Advisor, Gary Brisco, hosted the session, with guest speakers sharing their lived experience. This was a safe space for people to ask questions about how they can better support their Black, Asian and Minority Ethnicity colleagues in the trust.

Your stories

We heard from our Black members of staff including Yetunde Lolade Abiodun and myself, as interim chair of the BAME network. You can read our profiles and learn about our experiences within the NHS.

Free hot African food

We provided all inpatient areas across the trust with hot African food, paid for with the grant we received from NHS Charities Together and prepared by well-known event caterer; Jemmy’s Catering. Lots of you came forward with thanks to the BAME network for organising the deliveries:

Wear Red Day

We also held our own Wear Red Day, in line with the national initiative. Lots of our members of staff shared photos with us, showing racism the red card.

Educating with statistics

Detailed below is a summary of statistics and a list of organisations that can provide support:

Key facts, figures and information about the NHS workforce *

  • 6.1 per cent of staff in the NHS identify as being from a black background
  • 4.6 per cent of the medical workforce and 6.3 per cent of the non-medical workforce in the NHS are from a black background
  • 1.2 per cent of very senior managers working in the NHS are black
  • 3.5 per cent of senior managers (bands 8a-9) and 6.7 per cent (bands 5-7) identify as black
  • 3.5 per cent of senior doctors, 6.2 per cent of junior doctors and 2.06 per cent of other doctors are from black backgrounds

* Figures taken from the NHS Workforce Race Equality Standard Report 2019

Further information 

  • The official Black History Month UK listing – this website provides information on an extensive range of events taking place across the UK to entertain, inform and inspire.
  • NHS Confederation BME Leadership Network – this network was set up to work on the diversity and inclusion agenda to improve the representation of BME staff and raise their profile.
  • Resources to tackle racism and discrimination – NHS Employers has collated a range of useful resources which can be used to help aid conversations and to implement change.
  • Workforce Race Equality Standard (WRES) – since 2015 all NHS organisations have been required to demonstrate how they are addressing race equality issues in a range of staffing areas through the WRES.
  • NEAS leaders pledge to act against racism by the book – senior managers across the North East Ambulance Service (NEAS) have pledged to raise the profile of race equality in the service and started by launching a book club with around two dozen titles on race and racism.
  • Campaign honours BAME contribution on NHS Birthday – the Florence Nightingale Foundation (FNF) has released a special collage of BAME nurses and midwives working on the frontline during COVID-19 to mark the 72nd birthday of the NHS..
  • NHS Chief Executive pays tribute to essential contribution of Windrush generation – the head of the NHS in England Sir Simon Stevens marked Windrush Day 2020 by committing the NHS to drive further improvements in race equality across the health service.
  • Black nurses and midwives instrumental in helping shape the NHS of today – the Chief Nursing Officer for England has previously shared the amazing achievements and notable milestones of black nurses and midwives over the past 70 years.
  • Time to speak up: some necessary words about racism – Tracie Jolliff, national head of inclusive leadership and system development at NHS England and NHS Improvement provides an overview of the impact of the Black Lives Matter movement and what this means for the NHS.


Black History Month has been a huge success in raising awareness, despite the challenges brought about by COVID-19 this year. We need to continue this momentum throughout the year if we are to come together to continue improvements within our organisation, but I strongly believe that we can do it.