Few of us who watched the footage of the death of George Floyd could have failed to have been moved by this tectonic event.
The impact of his untimely, needless and tragic death has undoubtedly changed us. It has made us question what we thought we knew and made us stop and think about our own actions and perceptions. I personally have found this event deeply unsettling and have gone through a range of emotions around my personal and professional beliefs and values, and it has strengthened my commitment to change.
The College of Paramedics is fortunate to have such a passionate and dedicated collection of people working as part of our Diversity Steering Group and its wonderful Chair, Izzy, has penned a statement on behalf of the group which you can find here. In truth, I hadn’t before focused my thoughts on how prevalent racism is to our members from a BAME background, when going about the course of their work. There are members of the profession, members of the College, who face racist attitudes and behaviours that are simply unacceptable and have no place in today’s society.
Were you aware that our profession is the worst of all the Allied Health Professions in terms of BAME representation? It currently stands at just over three percent. It is unacceptable to ignore this, it needs to change. That is actual change, not warm words, or platitudes but actual, meaningful change.
To be part of this change we need to start with ourselves. I also thank Izzy for pointing out the obvious; that there is no-one on the Board of Trustees, or throughout the College’s staff, from a BAME background. This means that we do not accurately reflect our profession, and certainly do not fully represent our communities. We need to understand the challenges, barriers and opportunities that exist and to encourage and support those members from BAME backgrounds to take an interest in the College and to put themselves forward when opportunities arise. To have a more diverse representation throughout the College will bring a richness to the future of our profession and will eventually reflect better the communities we serve.
I accept that these things take time. To enable this change we must not be distracted, and our next step towards it is to work with our very dear colleague, Bo Escritt, who has worked with our colleagues in the AACE, supporting equality and diversity. Bo will provide mentorship and support for our Diversity Steering Group but will also advise and support the Board of Trustees and the College staff on sustainable and real change.
In closing, may I again thank our Diversity Steering Group for their continued passion and commitment to change. And to those members of the College who are from a BAME background, I would love to hear from you to ensure we are making enough change at the right pace. Your input will remain pivotal to the future of the profession.
Tracy Nicholls FCPara
College of Paramedics