What's it about?
2020 has been historical – and devastating – with COVID-19 and BLM impacting all of us, especially black and minority ethnic (BAME) groups, who have borne the brunt of the deadliness of the current pandemic. It will have escaped no one that, of those on the NHS frontline who lost their lives to COVID-19, a significant proportion were of BAME heritage. Dedicated NHS workers from varied roles have been affected, with the situation ongoing as we now face a second wave of COVID-19.
These challenges have thrown racial identity under the spotlight. There has been much focus on negative connotations of ethnicity, which relate to inequality, immigration and prejudice. But there is another side to the NHS. Founded in 1948, the NHS employs more than 1.4 million people – making it the largest employer in the UK. It touches all of us, regardless of creed, colour or income. Where are you really from? will pay tribute to this unique organisation and the global NHS diaspora.
The first step of the project is the publication of a book that records snapshots of the contributions made by NHS employees of BAME heritage. The book will carry interviews of porters, receptionists, doctors, nurses, canteen staff, laboratory staff, administrators and more.
The people behind the book are NHS A&E Consultant Dr Chet Trivedy at Brighton and Sussex University Hospital, journalist and writer Joy Persaud, Kulwant Singh Sehmi – who has worked for the NHS for 51 years, NHS pharmacist Ash Hirani and Ketan Dave who is our lead for equality diversity and inclusion (EDI).
The project, which has so far received the backing of patrons Jofra Archer, Sanjeev Bhaskar, Isa Guha and Ainsley Harriott, goes live with the launch of this fundraising drive. The donations will initially cover the costs of producing the book; any surplus funds will go to an NHS registered charity, as will all profits from book sales.
The book will bring the remarkable stories of these individuals to the forefront of our consciousness. We will speak to porters, receptionists, doctors, nurses, canteen staff, laboratory staff, administrators and more.
We wish to be clear that the contribution of BAME staff does not for a second detract from the dedication and sacrifices made by non-BAME staff. Their role is not any less worthy of recognition, but with the current spotlight on race and equality within the NHS it is time that the BAME community came together as one to share their stories. This book will be a tangible way to show appreciation and to offer help, as all profits will go to a registered charity that will allocate funds to all NHS employees in need.
We may expand the project in other ways digitally, where possible, to reach more people, once the book is published.
The founders of Where are you really from? hope the book will serve as a historical reminder of the role, efforts and sacrifices of BAME staff within the NHS. When the sound of clapping fades, this project will endure.
Who started this project?
The idea for the book came from Dr Chet Trivedy, an NHS A&E consultant who has been working in the NHS for more than 27 years.
What is this project about?
It was heart-warming to see the British public come out weekly to offer their support for the NHS frontline through applause. We want to turn this support into something tangible to record the lives of some of those we clapped for. The photo celebrates and records the contribution made by BAME staff; the project will generate funds to support all NHS staff through our partner charities.
What is the accountability for the funds that are raised from the proceeds of the sales of the book?
We have initially partnered with the BSUH Charity. All profits will go directly to registered NHS charities to support the NHS. We are looking for additional charitable partners and will invite our patrons to nominate charities, too. Our decisions will be 100% transparent.