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Debra and Mani win NHS anti-racism awards

Date: 20 October 2021

Two SCFT staff have been honoured by the NHS for challenging racism, inequality and injustice in the health and care sector in Sussex and beyond. 

Diversity and Inclusion Adviser Debra Lewis and Community Sister Mani Pang have received ‘Proud To Be’ Gratitude Awards for Sussex Black History Month 2021. 

They were honoured by Sussex Integrated Care System (ICS), the partnership of local authorities and NHS organisations which organise, fund and provide health and social care services in Sussex. 

Announcing the winners during the Sussex Black History Month highlight webinar, Reaching New Heights, ICS Leader Adam Doyle congratulated Debra and Mani and their fellow winners, telling them: “Well done all of you, we’re really, really proud of you; the work you have done is amazing!” 

Debra was nominated because she “supports the work within the BAME (Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic) Workforce Steering group and race equality within her organisation – including championing against discriminatory practices in recruitment and selection and providing a compassionate ear for BAME colleagues. She is not afraid to propose solutions to Trust seniors”. 

Mani was put forward for telling former Health and Social Care Minister Helen Whately about her experience as a community nurse during the pandemic. 

“Although Mani’s account was not linked to her experience as a BAME member of staff, she very brilliantly articulated the experience she had had and the impact it had had on her,” her nominator said. 

“She is proud to be a community nurse who belongs to a ‘rainbow family’ and she made everyone involved in the visit incredibly proud of her too … Her words were written and delivered by her and were extremely powerful. 

“Recruiting and developing community nursing staff from BAME backgrounds is important to ensuring we meet the diversity of our patient population and support all our staff to achieve their ambition,” the nominator continued. 

“The power of Mani’s message [was] aligned to the established knowledge that it is almost impossible to be what you can’t see.” 

Adam said reading about the nominees was a “grounding experience” and that he was “humbled reading some of the work people had done and really inspired by the achievements of my colleagues”. 

He added: “It is important for us to recognise, though, there is no middle ground when it comes to race equality. We have to stand together to build a strong and proud anti-racist strategy for our system. I really want our system to be the place people want to work and can truly be themselves. 

“But it is also really important that we make sure we are a system that challenges racism, challenges inequality and any injustices in our system and our communities.”