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.

Following the high-profile Black Lives Matter movement over the summer and evidence emerging of the greater impact of Covid-19 on Black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) people, senior leaders at NEAS have pledged to follow up more than 30 actions and activities already identified.

Mark Johns, equality diversity and inclusion manager at NEAS said: “More than 50 senior leaders will receive a book on race equality. We want leaders to take responsibility for their learning and improve their understanding. Once read, they will pass on their book to others after making a note of their learning and the action they will take.”

NEAS was recently graded as silver standard in an evaluation run by the Employers Network for Equality and Inclusion, which measure an organisation’s approach and progress on diversity and inclusion across several key areas. The Trust has previously been ranked in the Top 50 firms by Stonewall, a charity campaigning for the equality of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people.

The aim of this new initiative is to create a leadership team that has a greater level of awareness and understanding on race and other areas of equality.

Helen Ray, chief executive, added: “We have faced two pandemics this year. The first has been Covid-19 and the second has been that of racism. The death of George Floyd in America spread shock across the globe. Like many other organisations, we were horrified, but it was also important that we reflected on our own country’s history of racism and learn how we can eliminate it here as well.

“I’ve been moved by the stories shared with me about racism from our staff and I am incredibly grateful for others across the NHS who have shared their own experiences of how we tackle this pernicious ideology.

“Our senior leadership team has identified 34 action points to improve our organisation for everybody. This reading initiative is one; but we have also pledged to seek more representation from Black, Asian and minority ethnic backgrounds in our service at all levels.”

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