Recognising the role black and ethnic minority colleagues play

Black History Month celebrates the achievements and contributions people of African and Caribbean heritage have made to Britain’s economy, culture, and history.

We are proud to recognise the key role black and ethnic minority colleagues play, not just this month but every day.

Their role in our NHS dates back to 1948. This was the year that saw the birth of the NHS. It was also the year that over 1,000 people from the West Indies arrived in the UK on board HMT Empire Windrush.

In the early days of the health service, black and ethnic minority colleagues did not always have an easy journey. They were not always welcome, and many were faced with racism, discrimination and public outcry.

Today, those colleagues make up almost a quarter of the NHS workforce and 42% of medical staff.

Black History Month 2023

We know that black women in the UK have been making a difference across many industries for decades, but perhaps without the recognition they deserve.

The theme for this year’s Black History Month is ‘Saluting our Sisters’. It aims to recognise the achievements of black women and honour the crucial role they have played in shaping history, inspiring change, and building communities.

As part of Black History Month, we are celebrating the talent and achievements of our senior leaders of female ethnic minority colleagues.

We are proud to showcase the stories of those who now call Cornwall home, as their NHS careers continue to thrive.

Visibility in leadership and senior roles can speed up our ability to provide equitable access to care and innovation. We hope that sharing these stories will inspire, attract, grow, and retain staff as we continue our work to become more inclusive.

Message from our chief executive

Over the last few years, the landscape in Cornwall has changed. We have seen an increase in the number of internationally recruited healthcare professionals. The Trust is working hard to retain those staff, and ensure they have a good experience of working in Cornwall

"We have worked really hard over recent years to attract a more globally educated workforce. As a Board, we are very committed to making the Trust a great place to work for everyone, where every single person counts and where we ensure that every single person is welcomed.

"We do know that if you come from a minority or if you have protected characteristics, we need to do so much more to make you feel welcome and to support and encourage you to thrive, to be developed, and to develop yourself in our Trust."

Debbie Richards, Chief Executive

Fact files

Natasha Beale, Community Matron

Natasha Beale is the community matron for Arbennack Primary Care Network.

Where did you do your training?

Plymouth University.

What advice would you give to someone who wanted a job like yours?

Never stop learning and always be kind!

What advice do you have about moving to Cornwall?

Cornwall is an amazing and beautiful place to live with lots of opportunities for those with career aspirations, say yes to everything!

Rash Hamdan, Senior Infection Prevention and Control Nurse Specialist

Rashima (“Rash”) Hamdan is a senior infection prevention and control nurse specialist for the Trust.

Where did you do your training?

The Philippines.

What advice would you give to someone who wanted a job like yours?

Nursing is highly rewarding and a satisfying career. It is a job where you can make a difference in people’s lives. It is ever evolving, so plenty of opportunities for growth and development.

If helping and serving others brings happiness and satisfaction to you, then this may be the career for you. If you are considering this, then start by doing volunteer work in healthcare or speak to nurses of different backgrounds and specialties to hear their stories and experiences.

What advice do you have about moving to Cornwall?

Living in Cornwall is a privilege. People spend loads to go on holiday here, so you are very lucky if you are already living and working here. Drive! (I only learnt to drive here!) There are lots of places to discover. It will make a difference if you are able to explore these beautiful places.

Cynthia Onyancha, Staff Nurse

Cynthia Onyancha is a staff nurse for the Trust.

Where did you do your training?

Moi University, Kenya.

What advice would you give to someone who wanted a job like yours?

Although it can be a demanding job, nursing is a rewarding one, being there for our patients in their time of greatest need. Remember to be kind, they may forget your name, but they will never forget how you made them feel.

What advice do you have for anyone thinking of moving to Cornwall?

Cornwall has beautiful countryside, slower and gentler compared to other cities with rich history. However, prior to relocating to Cornwall, think about arranging transport, it is the main challenge in Cornwall.

Elyssa-June Smith, Mental Health Support Worker

Elyssa-June Smith is a mental health support worker for our Mental Health Support Team.

Where did you do your training?

I have had life experiences including teaching English as a second language to children and young people and working as a private foster carer under the guidance of Cornwall Council's Kingship Team.

What advice would you give to someone who wanted a job like yours?

Know that you do not necessarily require a degree in teaching or health and social care, to be a mental health support worker. They look to see if you have relevant experience with children, are compassionate and respectful towards others and are willing to learn a variety of skills and support our Cornish communities.

What advice do you have about moving to Cornwall?

Do your due diligence and take intentional time to research the role, Trust and Kernow (Cornwall)! Areas to live in that are more easily accessible (by train) are Falmouth, Truro, St Austell, and Newquay, have great links to community events, shops, schools, workplaces, and beaches. If you work in the community, be prepared for narrow and hilly roads, but also magnificent landscapes and friendly people.