Funding boost for BAME network's ambassadors scheme

Funding boost for BAME network's ambassadors scheme

18 January 2021

Joselyn King, Chair of the Multidisciplinary BAME Network at Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust, explains how charity funding is being used to train a team of staff ambassadors to tackle key issues affecting BAME colleagues.

The BAME ambassador roles were created as a response to the disproportionate impact of Covid-19 on Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) communities. With the majority of our Trust’s 14,000 workforce from a BAME background, there were specific issues to be addressed - from risk assessments and ill-fitting personal protective equipment (PPE) to shielding and mental health support.

As a Trust, we wanted to ensure we were providing a safe and supportive environment for our BAME staff so we invited colleagues from across the organisation to volunteer as BAME ambassadors to assist the Trust in responding to the issues and concerns of BAME colleagues. The roles would not only be an essential part of our Covid-19 response but would continue on an ongoing basis as a pivotal link between BAME staff, the BAME networks and the Trust.

The training for the programme was designed to arm the ambassadors with the skills and knowledge required to fulfil their role. We developed the training to include behavioural science approaches, such as unconscious bias and micro-aggressions. The participants were divided into smaller groups and the sessions were delivered as interactive workshops in three areas: wellbeing and self-care, behavioural science and context.

"One ambassador stated the training was one of the most valuable training courses they had attended." 

Joselyn King

The Trust’s psychological support team, CONTACT, provided tailored wellbeing sessions to enable the ambassadors to build resilience and an awareness of their own mental health needs, which was essential as the ambassadors will be required to support colleagues experiencing a wide range of issues.

The context segment of the training programme provided the ambassadors with background knowledge on why their role is necessary, how it aligns with our Trust’s equality, diversity and inclusion (EDI) agenda, and the national EDI framework.

The third element of the training was behavioural science, addressing the seven principles of influencing, identifying and managing micro-aggression, and challenging poor practices and behaviours, such as bullying.

The funding provided by Imperial Health Charity is integral to the BAME ambassadors programme as it will fund the second phase of behavioural science, on cultural intelligence. Future funding will be essential to ensure the training for subsequent cohorts is of the same standard and to ensure the current BAME ambassadors continue being educated on initiatives such as NHS England’s London Workforce Race Strategy, the Race and Health Observatory and the ‘Belonging in the NHS’ section of the People Plan.

The training that has already taken place has been comprehensive and the feedback has been both positive and encouraging. One ambassador stated the training was one of the most valuable training courses they had attended 

"The success of the BAME ambassadors programme will not only benefit our majority BAME staff but in the longer term, all staff at the Trust."

Joselyn King

We will be monitoring the effectiveness of the training through regular and ongoing evaluation among the BAME ambassadors, while the success of the programme will be evaluated by recorded case studies, the annual staff survey analysis and the staff professional development records (PDRs). With a diverse range of races and professions - the current BAME ambassadors include a scientist, pharmacists, physiotherapists, dieticians, managers, administrators, nurses and midwives - we hope to have a broad reach across our organisation.

The success of the BAME ambassadors programme will not only benefit our majority BAME staff but in the longer term, all staff at the Trust. The ambassadors will work to address and resolve disparities in order to create a more compassionate and inclusive environment for all. As supported staff enhance better patient experience and outcomes, patients will also eventually benefit from the programme.

Additional funding for the BAME ambassadors programme has been provided by Imperial Health Charity, with generous support from NHS Charities Together.