Brighton residents gather on the beach welcoming refugees

Brighton has a proud history of welcoming refugees and has become a City of Sanctuary.

People of Brighton & Hove turned out in force yesterday, 17 October 2021, to ‘show they’re all heart’ in support of refugees.  More than 200 people from across the city joined together to form a huge, human, orange heart on Brighton beach – the symbol of welcome to refugees.

The event, organised by Sanctuary on Sea and University of Sussex Student Action for Refugees took place as part of the Together With Refugees week of action, which is taking place between Monday 18 to Sunday 24 October 2021.  Thousands of people across the country are joining forces during the week of action to protest against the Nationality and Borders Bill and to call for a kinder, fairer and more effective approach to how the UK is supporting and welcoming refugees.

welcoming refugees

Paul Hutchings from Refugee Support Europe organised the crowd to form a large human heart which has become a symbol of refuge with Maozya, a student from the University of Sussex who runs ‘Student Action for Refugees’, (STAR) on Brighton beach. The orange heart is a symbol of welcoming refugees. It uses the colours of the refugee nation flag created by refugee Yara Said, for the first ever refugee team in the Olympics in 2016. The colours were inspired by a lifebelt representing hope. The heart was developed in 2021 in consultation with refugee organisations and people with lived experience.

The event was a protest against the Borders and Nationality Bill that has already had its second reading and is in the committee stage of its passage through the House of Commons before going to the Lords.

Mr Hutchings said: “The Bill complies with illegal immigration and does not solve the broken refugee crisis as it is. It proposes to assess people who arrive in the country based on how they arrived not on the basis of need.

“For many refugees, the only way to arrive, is irregularly. Lots of asylum seekers are taken to large processing centres like Napier Barracks where there is a history of mistreatment. There is a provision in the Bill to send people to a third country which resulted in abuses and a legal challenge when they did this in Australia. It’s contrary to international law. I do not want to live in a country that doesn’t respect international law.”

“Today is a sticking plaster. There are no fair, safe routes to seek asylum in the UK anymore. This assumes refugees are not deserving. All the refugees I know have two things in mind: To get somewhere safe to live and to build a better life for their families. Offshore detention centres are a breach of human rights. The UK should be welcoming refugees and compassionate.”

Maozya Murray, President of STAR and co-organiser of the event, said: “It was great to see so many people gather today in solidarity with the refugees, asylum seekers and members of our community who are being violently attacked by Home Office policy.

“This Bill passing through parliament is cruel, inhumane, and a flagrant breach of international law. The existence of the Bill, and the support it has received, is yet another example of the hostile environment policies that seek to dehumanise and oppress people. This country should be welcoming and celebrating difference. We stand with the thousands of people across the country calling for a compassionate, effective and moral approach to this bill. It is clear to me that this could only mean voting against it.”

“So many people oppose this violent act as an abuse of humanity. We are on the beach to show that we welcome people onto our shore. We call for compassion and welcoming refugees onto our streets. The Bill is cruel and inhumane and seeks to criminalise and endanger those of us seeking safety and refuge in the UK.”

Brighton beach

The week comes as MPs return to Parliament to consider the Nationality and Borders Bill currently making its way through the House of Commons.  According to the coalition, the new legislation would mean that most people who would be accepted as refugees under the current rules – meaning those confirmed to have fled war or persecution following rigorous official checks – would no longer have their rights recognised in the UK due to their method of arrival. Half of these would be women and children and includes those left behind in Afghanistan.

The new rules would mean that all those who claim asylum after arriving in the UK through an irregular route would face removal to a third country, with their asylum claim only progressing if removal is not possible.

People who arrive irregularly who go on to be granted refugee status would only receive temporary protection with reduced rights and entitlements.  The vast majority of people who claim asylum, ​are unable to access ‘regular’ routes (entering the UK with a valid visa and/or passport) with their only option being to enter irregularly (by boat or in the back of a lorry).

The Refugee Convention makes it clear that people should not be penalised for entering a country irregularly for the purposes of claiming asylum.

Mel Hughes said; “People don’t want to see this ‘all for nothing’ bill where only people who are deemed worthy, are able to stay. The Government is getting rid of the illegal trade in refugees. The Bill is not stopping the criminal aspect. It’s making people unwelcome and not addressing the problem at source. Britain already has a pretty poor record (about immigration) on a European level.”

Oskar from Denmark said: “The Bill is a violation of human and European rights. It’s just another step in the wrong direction, it has all been anti-refugee, anti-immigration rhetoric in the last few years. It’s a disgrace really in the UK, Europe, humanity really, criminalising refugees and their right to seek asylum which is their human right. The UK has just left the European Union and suddenly it’s OK to breach the EU code on human rights.

Russell and Maria were driving up to Heathrow Airport. They said for them, travel is relatively easy: “We saw a line of young men taken from the back of a truck. They looked very frightened right in front of us, on the motorway. The young men were about our son’s age.”

Anthony from Kenya wanted to show support to refugees. He said: “Often what they’re doing, there’s a lot of stigma in the papers for them to address. People can show support. These are the small wins that we can be proud of.”

Nicola Jackson said: “I have befriended Syrians, given them holidays and campaigned for Freedom from Torture. I have been to Afghanistan in the 1970s. I am against the bill in Parliament. The government treats refugees as if they will be a drain on resources. They are taking away legal routes to get here. People should be able to find new homes where they like and not pushed offshore to claim legal rights to seek asylum.”

Together With Refugees is a growing coalition of more than 300 national and local organisations who believe in showing compassion and welcoming refugees fleeing war and persecution. It was founded by Asylum Matters, British Red Cross, Freedom from Torture, Refugee Action, Refugee Council and Scottish Refugee Council.

The coalition is calling for a more effective, fair and humane approach to the UK’s refugee system that: 1) allows people to have a fair and efficient hearing for their claim for protection, including those who endured traumas and struggle to get here; 2) ensures people can live in dignity in communities while they wait to find out if they will be granted protection; 3) enables refugees to rebuild their lives and make valuable contributions to their communities; 4) and where the UK works with other countries to do its part to help people forced to flee their homes.

To find out more visit www.togetherwithrefugees.org.uk

Brighton opens a new, black, Afrori bookshop

Just a year after opening online, Afrori Bookshop will be opening its actual doors on Tuesday 26th October 2021 in Kensington St, North Laine.

The crowdfunding campaign aimed to raise £10,000 to fit out the premises at Lighthouse’s charity in the Laines. In just 4 weeks (a week ahead of schedule) the team met the target and the campaign closed on 8th October, having raised a total of £12,460. The charity said: “We can’t think of a better way to occupy the Lighthouse space, than for it to become a home to the only Black-owned bookshop for Black authors in Brighton.”

Carolynn Bain, founder said: “I am completely blown away by the love the public has shown to our dream of making Brighton an anti-racist city. The night we hit the target I sobbed: I was so overwhelmed.”

Afrori Bookshop
Carolynn Bain

The crowdfund attracted a lot of attention from the public and the media. The crowd funding video was shared hundreds of times across social media and was featured on ITV, BBC and multiple other press outlets. They even took over a key social media account for publishing giant Penguin. Afrori was named bookshop of the month by Brighton based Damian Barr literary salon and a top ten start up to watch identified by Business Live.

Afrori bookshop aims to be a community space drawing in authors and young creatives from across Sussex and nationwide. They have plans for creative writing evenings, a book club, children’s story times, training to help teachers integrate diverse books into classrooms and much more.

Ms Bain and her team are also committed to employing ‘the unemployable’ on a fair wage and are seeking staff from marginalised groups who have found it difficult to find employment.

For the next few weeks, it is all go with the shop fitting and stocking taking place at the moment. Team member, Ysabel, said: “This is the best kind of busy.”

Afrori’s mission statement is: ‘Support black authors. Create diverse bookshelves. Be a voice against injustice.’

Carolynn said: “Changing the way people read is fundamental to affecting their outlook and reading habits for life, and it is through reading that we can have the greatest impact on attitudes to racism in the future. Afrori Books is changing the world, one book at a time.”

Afrori bookshop opens in Kensington Street, North Laine on Tuesday 26 October.

Rape and Murder of Sarah Everard

A British Police officer, PC Wayne Couzens, has been convicted of kidnapping and raping Sarah Everard, a 33 year old marketing executive this week. She went missing while walking home from a friend’s house at around 9pm near Clapham Common. A week later her body was recovered in a bag in woodland in Kent, following a massive Police search.

Unofficial vigils were held for Sarah across the UK and the Police were criticised for manhandling peaceful mourners, mainly women. Police were accused of arresting women and pinning them to the ground. Broadcast media suggested the Police used disproportionate force during peaceful vigils. An inquiry requested by the government said the Police had used considerable restraint.

Sarah Everard’s murder resonated with many women who believe they have every right to walk home unaccompanied at 9pm, we may call this freedom of movement. The grief and outrage was partly because a Police Officer attacked and raped Sarah which is a clear abuse of power. Women expect to be able to turn to the Police if they are in trouble.

PC Couzens was a highly trained and screened fire arms officer working in the Westminster-based Parliamentary and Diplomatic Protection Command, which protects VIPs and guards national sites. Couzens was nicknamed “the rapist” while serving in Kent for the Civil Nuclear Constabulary. He was not on the sexual offenders register in spite of successive incidents of indecent exposure.

Couzens was not vetted again after these offences before he was armed with a gun and authorised to protect embassies in London and the Palace of Westminster for the Metropolitan Police. He was nicknamed “the rapist” but no one questioned whether he was a fit and proper person to carry out his job.

In court, Couzens pleaded guilty to kidnapping Ms Everard “unlawfully and by force or fraud” and raping her. In March he did not enter a plea for her killing but he has now accepted responsibility for her death.

At the heart of this investigation is how Police officers could think it is acceptable to call a colleague a rapist and continue to send him out onto the streets to protect women. This is not one rogue Police officer but a culture of misogyny at the heart of British policing.

According to the Guardian, 81 women in the UK have been killed since March and 109 this year, 2021. Before the pandemic in 2019 there was a 10% increase in women killed with the annual figure jumping from 220 to 241. According to the ONS three women are killed every fortnight by their partner or ex-partner. Seven months after Sarah Everard’s death, the body of schoolteacher Sabina Nessa was found in Cator Park, south-east London and a man from Eastbourne, East Sussex is facing charges.

Government response to sexual offences

In June 2021 an Observer analysis of thousands of convictions showed that between 2013 and 2020, almost one in three adults were given suspended or community sentences.

Government has been battling to withstand criticism following a sharp decline in convictions under her watch, including where the victims are under 13 years old. Police cuts driven by ten years of austerity and a loss of expertise go some way to explaining the fall in convictions. Government has promised the figures will be kept under six monthly review.

Prosecutions in 2016/17 fell 60% in four years to 2,102 in 2019/20, even as the number of reports to police increased, raising concerns about the decriminalisation of rape. These concerns make therapeutic relationships even more important.

According to the Guardian in 2018 victims were routinely required to give access to highly personal data including mobile phone messages and social media content to the Police. These can be retained for up to 100 years for a case to proceed which enhances the sense of personal violation already experienced by victims.

Sophie Wilkinson argued powerfully in Vogue in March that the Police fail because they are not looking for patterns of sexually inappropriate behaviour. They treat each case of rape, including Sarah Everard’s case, as an isolated incident.

Ms Wilkinson said the Police should have immediately investigated the indecent exposure by PC Couzens days earlier and while in Kent. They should be documenting the many signs of harassment, often in public, that precede rape and other sex attacks to identify the pattern of sexual offending early and prevent crime.

Sexualised trauma

Sexualised trauma includes trauma caused by someone close to you like a partner and encompasses many aspects of domestic violence. Most of the time sexualised trauma is caused by people known to the victim. Often there are no convictions in these cases. Rape sentencing tends to assume the attackers are strangers in parks, like PC Wayne Couzens.

This is often not the case. Most sexualised trauma takes place within the home, most child abuse is carried out by someone known to the child.

According to the Crime Survey for England in the year ending March 2020 7.1% of women aged 16 to 74 had experienced sexual assault or rape by penetration (including attempts) and only 0.5% of men.

“For the years ending March 2017 and March 2020 combined, victims who experienced sexual assault by rape or penetration since the age of 16 years were most likely to be victimised by their partner or ex-partner (44%). This was closely followed by someone who was known to them other than a partner or family member (37%), which includes friends (12%) and dates (10%) (Appendix Table 1). More than one in seven women (15%) reported being assaulted by a stranger, whereas this was true for almost half of male victims (43%) (Figure 2).”

I have talked mainly about women throughout this article because sexualised trauma is different for men and women. Men are more often attacked by strangers. Transgender people often suffer a disproportionate amount of discrimination and harassment, including from feminists. Attacks on men and transgender attacks will be addressed separately elsewhere.

Rape is not the only form of sexualised trauma – there is a whole menu of being cat-called, stared at or wolf-whistled to touching, up skirting, groping and grooming as well as taking and circulating sexual photographs, forced viewing of pornography etc. Violence is not always part of the attack.

Harassment is necessarily subjective and occurs when the individual is made to feel unsafe, humiliated, or intimidated. Rape during sleep is common among partners. Harassment and rape among pupils in boarding schools has hit the headlines this summer.

#Metoo campaign went viral following allegations against Harvey Weinstein and called out celebrities for widespread harassment in the media and film industry in October 2017. It sparked a national conversation and an increase in reporting of sexual harassment in the UK and abroad.

It is clear that sexualised trauma is a widespread phenomenon that deserves much more attention from society as well as the Police.

Harassment is particularly prevalent among young women. Research published in March this year from the All Party Parliamentary Group on UN Women in the United Kingdom showed 97 percent of British women aged between 18 and 24 have experienced sexual harassment in public.

Sexual harassment online is booming due to the pandemic. According to the Revenge Porn Helpline, they found calls about explicit imagery being shared without consent rose by 87% between April and August 2020 versus the previous year.

When understanding if sexualised trauma has taken place, a therapist or teacher will have to consider issues of consent and be mindful of any misuse of power, particularly if a young person is involved. Sex can become a powerful weapon in the wrong hands.

The impact of sexualised trauma and how therapy can help

In 2010, the Equality Act defined sexualised trauma as: “unwanted conduct of a sexual nature which has the purpose or effect of creating an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment.”

Humiliation is a key aspect of identifying sexualised trauma. Victims commonly feel dirty, they may suffer guilt, shame or even self-blame. In the aftermath clients may be more stressed, more anxious, suffer from panic attacks and feel generally less safe, as well as avoid sexual intimacy or in some cases feel de-valued and become more promiscuous.

If not addressed quickly after an attack or at the end of an abusive relationship, memories of sexualised trauma can ripple under the surface causing negative effects for years to come.

Some of the reactions are physiological causing changes to the chemicals in the brain resulting in unconscious or unintended behaviours such as aggression, fight or flight, depression, anxiety, panic attacks etc.

Early therapy helps address the roots of the trauma before the neurological pathways change irreparably in negative ways. Anti-depressants may also help to stabilise a traumatised client in the short-term but should not be taken for more than six months and should be monitored by a GP.

To address the root cause of the trauma, therapy provides a confidential space that a client pays for which is safe and non-judgemental. It’s a place for clients to unpack the cocktail of emotions outlined above. Therapists may find that recent experiences of sexualised trauma trigger childhood trauma or deficits in client’s attachment too, although most therapy is now person-centred.

Clients can talk freely about their fears, shame, self-blame and any flashbacks, insomnia, anxiety and panic attacks. They will address the root causes by calmly and safely re-living the attack, accompanied, not alone, in a therapeutic setting.

The aim is to look at the facts of the attack and make them conscious to prevent the unconscious from anticipating threats that are not there and imagining false scenarios which hold the client captive in dark places.

A skilled therapist will conclude every session to make sure the client does not dwell on the attack after the session and to reduce the likelihood of unsupervised flashbacks.

Ultimately in every therapeutic relationship you want to reach the point, after months, often years of tears, transference and/or in the film aggression, summed up in Good Will Hunting: When the therapist, (Robin Williams) embraces Matt Damon (his client) and simply says: “It’s not your fault.”

STEAM by Ella Turk-Thompson

If you have missed theatre during the pandemic, you will find STEAM is worth the wait.

Steam opens with a silent tug of war between mother and daughter. The play is an intimate portrayal of family life, enhanced by the setting at Brighton Little Theatre (BLT) which oozes familiarity, charm and sophistication.

Ray, shortened for Rachel, is a qualified nurse and carer to her terminally ill mother. Kate Purnell acts as Ray in a BLT debut, offering the audience a masterful range of emotions that make us both laugh and cry in turn. Her sister, Sylvia, performed by Ellie Mason, plays a musician, arrives from a glittering career in Paris to disturb the peace. Ray asks herself whether her sister’s visit is motivated by duty or is it an act of love?

Suffused with emotion from the outset, age old family dynamics play out between the absent daughter and the one who never left home in this intimate family drama. Indifference, not anger, is the opposite of love and this play overflows with feeling – rage, bitterness, resentment and compassion. It’s about belonging or not belonging, family, life, loss, grief and the pain of letting go.

As the family gather around the dinner table, Anya who is ‘mother’, acted by Abigail Smith, offers us moments of self-deprecating humour. In spite of her illness, she is fully herself.

There is a fourth character in Ella Turk-Thompson’s masterly play – Callum acted by Joseph Bentley, a slightly diffident, yet loyal, Englishman. Both loved and hated, he supports Ray through the storm and effortlessly introduces sexual tension and humour to the drama.

STEAM is a story of love and loss, resilience, endings and the struggle to carry on.  Each daughter has to battle grief and triumph over it. Ms Turk-Thompson said: “It’s about family and when you can’t hold onto them.”

Physical theatre recurs throughout, offering the audience the chance to reflect. For a moment, Ray stops being a nurse and becomes a REAL woman again. In this moment the audience can empathise with her situation of being the sacrificial carer. All three of the women, experience moments of heightened emotion and they portray this effectively through dance. Dialogue throughout the play is excellent, as is casting, the script, direction and choreography.

Within minutes, we are immersed in the lives of Ray and Sylvia, observing first-hand the way only siblings really can push you to your limits.

STEAM had me totally absorbed from the start, I identified with the emotions and it caused me to reflect on my own family relationships. The play is both provocative and soothing, broaching several difficult subjects head on with humility.

I thoroughly recommend STEAM and will look out for further work by Ella Turk-Thompson.

**** Four Stars

You can read the lowdown from Fringe Review here but beware, there are spoilers.

16 and 17 year olds urged to take up a Covid vaccine before new term starts

More than half of all 16 and 17 year olds in Sussex have now received their COVID-19 vaccination. Anyone who has not yet had the vaccine should come forward when they are invited – or attend a walk in NHS service if they are able.

In Brighton, the Moderna vaccine is available at the former Top Shop, Churchill Square, BN1 2RG, daily from 8.30am to 7.00pm or you can get Pfizer at Brighton Racecourse.

Teenagers aged 16 and 17 year are now eligible for one dose of the COVID vaccine, as part of the continued roll out of the vaccination programme.

Local vaccination services have been contacting 16 and 17 year olds who are registered with GP practices to invite them for appointments over the last two weeks. GPs are inviting them to attend vaccination clinics near where they live.

These sessions will continue over the coming weeks – and people are urged to attend when invited.

NHS vaccine

Please note the invite for a teenager’s vaccination may go to parents if that is the registered phone number on your GP record and will probably be issued by text message if there is a mobile number on record.

Walk in clinics are taking place to make it as easy as possible for teenagers to receive their vaccination if they are able to get to one of these sites.

These may be further afield for some communities but no appointment is needed and you can attend with friends and family.

Free transport is also available to anyone in Sussex who needs it to get to a walk-in vaccination site by calling, Tel: 01444 275 008.

If you would prefer an appointment, you can book one at Brighton Racecourse if you are 16 or 17, Tel: 0300 303 8060.

With schools and colleges re-opening next week after the summer, the NHS wants as many 16 and 17 year olds to be protected before term starts. NHS staff encourage anyone who is in this age group and who hasn’t had it yet come forward to attend a drop-in session at their local vaccination service.

While the rate of coronavirus cases has dropped to 270 cases for every 100,000 people in line with the national average, it remains high and schools are about to go back. There were 787 new covid-19 cases in the seven days to Monday (30 August), down from 1,184 in the previous week in Brighton and Hove.

It is essential that all eligible young people get vaccinated to protect themselves and elderly or clinically vulnerable young people.

You can read what happened to Mike, who has learning difficulties, when he went to Brighton Racecourse to have his jab here.

All eligible teenagers will be given the Pfizer or Moderna vaccination.

Walk in sessions for 16 and 17 year olds are available in Chichester and Eastbourne as well as Brighton. You do not need an appointment if you are 16 or 17 year’s old:

Every day

  • Brighton, former Top Shop store, Churchill Square, BN1 2RG, daily 8.30am to 7.00pm, Moderna
  • Chichester, Westgate Vaccination Centre, Via Ravenna, PO19 1RJ, daily 8.30am to 7.00pm
  • Eastbourne, former Mothercare shop, Hampden Retail Park, Lottbridge Drove, BN22 9PD , daily 8.30am to 3.00pm

Tuesday 7 September 2021

  • 08.30-19.00 – former Top Shop store, Churchill Square, Brighton, BN1 2RG
    For all adults, 1st and 2nd doses (2nd dose after 8 weeks), Moderna
  • 10.30-14.30 – St Mary Magdalene Church, Coldean, Brighton BN1 9EL
    For all adults, 1st and 23nd doses (2nd dose after 8 weeks), Pfizer

More walk in sessions for 16-17 year olds are being confirmed and will be added to this website.

If you have a question about the Sussex COVID-19 vaccination programme please take a look at the NHS frequently asked questions.

Alternatively, you can contact the Vaccination Enquiries Team by email: vaccineenquiries@nhs.net, or phone them, Tel: 0800 433 4545 between 9am and 4pm, Monday to Friday.

An edited version of this article was published today by Brighton and Hove News.

Sussex Defend the NHS joins UNITE’s protest against 3 per cent pay rise

Sussex Defend the NHS will be out on the streets supporting NHS workers in their campaign for a decent pay rise once again. Tomorrow, Wednesday 25th August, they will be outside the Royal Sussex County Hospital from 12 until 2pm supporting the UNITE Union’s Day of Action.

Clare Jones, a local NHS nurse and UNITE staff rep. said: “A below-inflation pay offer is an insult for NHS workers and I fully support my Union’s recommendation to reject it. I am pleased that the unions are working together and saying ‘Not good enough’ to the Government.”

UNITE’s protest follows an NHS protest about pay last week organised by GMB Union.

The government has still only offered a 3 per cent pay rise which all of the major health unions say is totally inadequate. GMB calculated that, when the inflation rate was taken into account, it amounted to a pay rise of less than 0.6 per cent.

For the lowest paid workers in the NHS, it will mean less than the Real Living Wage (£9.50ph) and it’s less than the rise in the cost of housing, food and travel to work. It will widen the pay gap within the workforce, and low pay will make it more difficult for the NHS to recruit and retain staff.

Louise, a local mental health nurse in UNISON, said: “I am voting to reject the offer and I’m prepared to strike. I’m encouraging my colleagues to do the same.”

pay rise
Kelly Robbins

Kelly, a registered nurse from Brighton and GMB activist, explained why she and her union are campaigning for a 15 per cent pay rise. She said: “We have faced a decade of austerity so another real terms pay cut is just rubbing salt into the wound for staff.

“This year it’s actually less than a 1 per cent pay rise in real terms after 4 per cent predicted inflation, and we’ve already seen a 20 per cent pay cut since 2010.

“Also the NHS is chronically understaffed and this 3 per cent offer isn’t enough to persuade overworked current staff to stay, let alone recruit the new workers we desperately need.”

Sussex Defend the NHS sees this offer as part of the government’s efforts to undermine and privatise the NHS. They argue the government has used the pandemic as an excuse to speed up the process, wasting huge amounts of public money keeping private hospitals afloat, and funding an unworkable Track and Trace system. Instead, it should be fully funding the NHS including a 15% wage increase for its staff.

This article was also published in Brighton and Hove News.

Health Partnership seeks community ambassadors from ethnic backgrounds

NHS chiefs are looking to recruit 10 volunteers to be “community ambassadors for diverse ethnic communities” and help change future health and social care services.

The Sussex Health and Care Partnership, made up of councils and NHS trusts, said: “People from diverse ethnic communities experience some of the biggest health inequalities, even more since the start of the pandemic.

“It is really important to hear directly from people in those communities so that we can fully understand the challenges communities are facing and work together to create solutions.

Community Ambassadors

“Community ambassadors are part of an exciting new way of helping the Sussex Health and Care Partnership to understand what is important to your community and make sure local health and care services are what your community needs.

“We are looking for 10 members of the public from diverse ethnic communities to become community ambassadors.

“The role of a community ambassador might include engaging with your community, trying to make contact with people to talk to them about health and care services in the area and to find out their views (and) doing office-based work, giving advice and support to NHS programmes across Sussex, and helping to make decisions about health and care services.”

The partnership said: “We currently have 15 community ambassadors across Sussex and since our volunteers joined in October 2020, they have helped to influence services locally.

“Community Ambassadors have been active participants in eight interview panels for staff within the Sussex NHS Commissioners, providing an independent perspective on the panels.

“(They have) undertaken research on the views of the BAME communities on the flu vaccine and identified solutions to support the flu vaccination campaign and covid-19 immunisation programme, worked in partnership to develop a questionnaire for the pre-consultation engagement for the cardiology and ophthalmology services in East Sussex – over 200 questionnaires were completed by patients (and) worked collaboratively to design two questionnaires as part of the engagement with service users and practitioners for the Brighton and Hove mental health accommodation tendering process.”

The partnership added that they had “supported the development of the materials for the pre-consultation engagement for stroke (services) redesign in West Sussex, including the narrative, communications and engagement plan, patient survey questions”.

It also said: “Community ambassadors receive expenses and, in some situations, recognition payments are offered.”

The deadline for applications is Thursday 12 August.

Click here for more information about the role and how to apply.

This article was also published by Brighton and Hove News.

Brighton and Hove could become HIV testing pilot after joint action by MPs

 Brighton and Hove’s three MPs have welcomed the news that the city could be a pilot for a new HIV testing regime which would normalise HIV testing in the community with the aim of reaching zero new transmissions by 2030.

Jo Churchill, the health minister, has replied to a letter proposing Brighton and Hove as a pilot city, which was signed by the city’s three MPs, Caroline Lucas, Lloyd Russell-Moyle and Peter Kyle, alongside the leader of Brighton Council, Phelim MacCafferty.

Health minister said she had asked Department of Health officials to look at the offer and was keen to work with areas like Brighton and Hove to learn from the city’s pioneering approach to prevention, testing and reducing late diagnosis of HIV.  Next, the MPs plan to invite her to the city to see what is being done locally to combat HIV infections.

Brighton’s three MPs and Cllr MacCafferty believe Brighton and Hove is the perfect place for a pilot because it was the first city in the UK to have ‘HIV Fast Track City’ status, and has some of the best online testing services in the country.  The city also pioneered HIV test vending machines and has supported a number of community testing initiatives, including National HIV Testing Week.

Currently, the plan is to roll out HIV testing even further, to make it available when people attend A&E, register for a new GP and in local pharmacies.

Caroline Lucas MP said: “Our city is a national leader in driving down HIV infections, not least because MPs, the council and local public health teams have worked together on this.  We want to share our experiences with others, and we’re also ready to do more.  I’m glad the minister seems prepared to work with us towards ending new cases of HIV by 2030 in England.”

HIV testing
Caroline Lucas MP

Cllr Phélim Mac Cafferty, leader of Brighton & Hove City Council said: “Outstanding progress has already been made in the city to increase testing and fight HIV-related stigma. This is typified by the recent installation of a vending machine with free STI tests in the Jubilee Library.

“Normalising HIV testing across health services is the next step. We are eager to get this pilot underway as we know Brighton & Hove is well placed to be one of the first cities to make it happen.”

“That’s because in addition to strong, continued commitment to support people living with HIV, we are proud to be the host of some of the best HIV support, treatment, and prevention services and community organisations in the country.  They’ve been running for many years and working in strong collaboration with our communities and public health teams.

“An important next step in supporting our communities is to achieve our shared aims for zero HIV infections, zero HIV stigma and zero HIV related deaths.”

Jolomo’s high key colour puts him in a class of his own

Colour bursts forth onto the easel of John Lowrie Morrison , Jolomo, with the painting of ‘Wet Winter Croftscape South Uist.’ The deep, iridescent, blue sky of a wet, Scottish day at dusk, merging into an orange sunset. But there is much more to this story.

As Mr Morrison explained: “In January 2005 a young family drowned in a storm that was the worst in living memory on the Islands of Benbecula & South Uist. The storm had built up a few days before as a shallow depression off America’s Easter seaboard. However it developed into a monster.

“A young family were stuck in their croft house for many hours but decided to flee. They left in two cars but as they crossed a single track road causeway the sea swallowed them up.

“A BBC Director, Neil Campbell, was reporting on the storm, not knowing his father, his wife and three children had drowned on the Benbecula – South Uist Causeway.

“I know this place well, I had to paint this tragedy at Lochdar South Uist that shocked Scotland on that stormy night – a memorial of that lovely family.”

Jolomo: Wet Winter Croftscape South Uist
Wet Winter Croftscape South Uist

Mr Morrison, who uses the pen name ‘Jolomo’, expresses feeling through colour. He doesn’t make photographic paintings of the West Coast of Scotland with her often drab, overcast skies and dark rainclouds. He has a catalogue of photographs and sketches that inspire him and then he paints his interpretation of the scenes – therein lies his magic.

Expressionism for Jolomo

When asked about expressionism, he said: “Impressionism is more realistic, you paint an impression of the snow or the trees. For an expressionist, you can have a red or yellow tree or snow.

“I paint my world, rather than the world the way it is. Picasso creates his own universe. I guess I do the same, really strong colour. I do try to get things looking like the place, it draws people in, not the colours. ‘Archie the Jura’ has gold and purple on the road, purple and gold in the sky, cerise green, colour brings out feelings and a sense of place.

“I hate grey paintings,” he said, “to me paintings should be about colour. First marks by cavemen who mixed red earth, spit water and spray around their horse. They always used strong colour. Their colour is still there, and it’s quite wonderful.”

Jolomo conveys mood and the beauty of Scotland in all its glorious technicolour inspired from a very young age by Soutine, Marc Chagall, Oskar Kokoschka and Andrew Wyeth.

Jolomo’s High Key Colour

As a young man, he was inspired by oil paintings in L’Abri, a theological centre in Switzerland, with high key colour and sharp, clean air. He said: “The keys got higher and brighter. High key colour got better and better. I layer colours. I’m still learning even although I’m in my 70s. Even today I found out new techniques that I will use again.”

Jolomo’s trademark is high key colour which means you paint at the lighter end of a value scale which is a continuum from pure white to pure black. He paints the scene lighter than it is and his dark colours (blue and orange for example in the South Uist storm) become more vibrant because most colours reach a peak saturation around the mid-tone range. The skill is to compress the colour range and ensure the values on the scale still relate the same way to each other.

Impressionists used high key colour to great effect but it’s what Morrison does with the mid-range and darker colours like his blue that sets him apart.

He carries this control over colour into his more recent work and introduces ever higher keys, a taste of heaven perhaps. The deep, dark colours of his early days and the associated heaviness have to some extent receded.  They have been replaced by lighter blues, purples and lavender, suggesting that he has found his peace with the world.

Jolomo and Faith

Asked to explain why he paints, Mr Morrison said: “Painting is breathing, that’s it, it’s there inside me, it’s the gift that God has given to me.”

“For me, as a Christian, I believe we create because God created. God’s spirit is with me. I don’t always find painting easy.

“I invite the Holy Spirit to help me, every time I paint. You have to tune in. The Holy Spirit is always around us but you have to connect with it or it won’t connect with you.

Jolomo was converted while at Glasgow School of Art when he was 21, after seeing the ‘Life of Christ’ enacted. He said: “I gave my life to God. That’s when the bright colour came in: a spiritual expression.”

He painted ‘A meeting with Christ’ which was inspired by a photograph a friend sent him a few years ago. The photo was of very large and gnarled olive trees, the trees were well over 2000 years old and in the Garden of Gethsemane.

He said: “My immediate thought when seeing the photos was that my Lord must have walked under these trees or sat below them or even prayed there. I quickly made sketches and executed a painting later.

“The images I painted are of Christ meeting a woman. She could be anyone – you or I. We could meet Christ anywhere but although He is always looking for us, we need to be looking for Him.”

The result: An array of colour and the landscape resplendent with light, hope and joy.

Jolomo: A meeting with Christ
A meeting with Christ

For 25 years, Mr Morrison taught art regionally in Argyll and became the art adviser to the Scottish Office. Now he dedicates himself almost entirely to his painting from his two studios in Tayvallich and Ardnamurchan.

In the 1980s he became a lay preacher after deputising for the local minister. He enjoys travelling the length and breadth of the Western Isles, speaking of God’s love as a supply minister for the Church of Scotland.

Jolomo said art is very therapeutic, it gives people confidence – kids struggling with maths or French would come to art class and gain confidence to tackle the subjects they found difficult.

He is inspired by Phineas Taylor Barnham who said: “The greatest thing you can do is make people happy.” Jolomo said: “I try to lift people’s spirits. I give loads of prints to hospitals.

“There was a man sitting in a waiting room. Twenty years ago he moved to the Cairngorms from Tayvallich, to work with huskies. I knew him. His Dad was dying.

“He sent me a lovely email saying, ‘I saw you in the Coop: it made me think of your paintings. The prints really lifted my spirits, then I was in hospital with my Dad and I saw one of your prints, I felt an inner peace.’ That’s worth more than money.”

Jolomo Award

His legacy might be the Jolomo Awards and Foundation created to highlight the painting of the Scottish Landscape in the 1990s when he felt conceptual art was taking over. He feels the award has reversed this trend and there is now a “massive” number of landscape painters in Scotland.

Mr Morrison’s earnings are significant because he is prolific and he wants his art to be accessible – you can buy one of his canvases for between £2000 and £2500 and his prints for much less. He paints to bring joy.

His high key colour opens people’s eyes to Scotland at her magnificent best. Few would question the fact that John Lowrie Morrison has become a national treasure.

You can see Jolomo exhibiting throughout July and August in a retrospective exhibition at the MacLaurin Gallery & Museum in Ayr. You can also find him at the Archway Gallery in Lochgilphead on 14 August, the Torrance Gallery in Edinburgh on 25 September and he will exhibit at the Glasgow Gallery on 13 November.

C of E bishop formally rebuked for racial stereotyping

Former Bishop Mike Hill was the first bishop to admit racial stereotyping in the Church of England and to face a disciplinary measure by consent.

The Church’s investigation followed an exclusive article in the Guardian reporting that, Bishop Hill, who ran the diocese in Bristol wrote a letter to a fellow clergyman in July 2016 and said there were “cultural differences” with the way people like Reverend Alwyn Pereira from the Indian subcontinent handle issues of truth and clarity.

Right Reverend Mike Hill wrote to the Archbishop of York who was the investigating officer and said: “I am content to admit, on reflection, that my injudicious and foolish comment in my generally very supportive reference to Dan Tyndall dated 5th July 2016 is conduct that is unbecoming from someone in my position.

“It certainly was a clear and obvious error. I inadvertently, used a form of racial stereotyping which I understand to be unacceptable.”

Bishop Mike Hill resisted several appointments of Reverend Alwyn Pereira to parishes in the diocese of Bristol over a period of years when he was Bishop of Bristol. He was serving in his retirement as Honorary Bishop of Bath and Wells until the Guardian investigation last summer. In December, Reverend Pereira received a written apology from the former bishop.

Right Reverend Mike Hill stepped back from all public duties in June pending an investigation into racism. He was formally rebuked on Thursday 28 January 2021, and has been ordered to attend unconscious bias training before he will be granted permission to officiate in the Church of England again.

Ms Vivienne Faull who is currently the Bishop of Bristol said: “Racial stereotyping is serious, whether intentional or not. It causes upset, harm and undermines what we are trying to do as a Church.

“The Church of England is determined to address institutional racism and I have set out my commitments for the Diocese of Bristol. This instance underlines how important these commitments are. There is a lot of work to do, we have made a start, and I remain relentless in my dedication to bringing about change.”

Last October the Church of England announced a racial taskforce to prepare for a Racial Justice Commission. Bristol diocese has appointed a Bishop’s Racial Justice Advisor and a Minority Ethnic Vocations champion.

But the commission must have the ability to sanction racist clergy or refer them to the Clergy Discipline Commission and make reparation in order to stamp out racism effectively. Without the ability to impose sanctions or make reparations, Reverend Pereira says the commission will have no teeth.

bishop

Reverend Pereira said: “This is historic, a watershed, it’s the first time that a senior cleric in the Church of England has been rebuked for racism. Earlier in 2020, the Church acknowledged that, as an institution, it had a problem with racism.

“On the one hand I feel vindicated, having pursued this case at great cost to myself and my family but on the other hand I am concerned for my church that the level of systemic racism present in recruitment processes exposed in this case, remain unaddressed.

“My hope is that the Church will show leadership in the area of racial justice. This case has presented the church with an opportunity to learn and to lead, to be forthright and strident in setting an example to society in addressing racial injustice.

“It would be nice to move on in my life with a written apology and it’s reasonable to ask for some form of compensation.”

When asked about solutions, Reverend Pereira said: “We need a root and branch evaluation into the entire process of recruitment or selection of Anglican BAME candidates to find out why the discrimination happened in Bristol and to make sure it does not happen again.”

It is clear the Church needs to work hard to become more ethnically diverse, at every level and particularly among her senior clergy. She needs to create a space for BAME voices to be heard. She may be surprised by the richness they bring – diversity is not a threat, it is a strength to be celebrated.

Since the retirement of Right Reverend John Sentamu, all of the senior bishops in the Church of England are once again, white, as are most clergy, suggesting white supremacy remains pervasive. The church must take intentional collective action to demonstrate she is a more diverse, equitable organisation untarnished by privilege.

In the Employment Tribunal judgement, Judge Cadney made specific reference to emails written by the Right Reverend Mike Hill two years before the letter suggesting people from the Indian Subcontinent have issues with truth and clarity.

In these emails, Right Reverend Mike Hill blames other senior clergy including the Training Bishop Right Reverend Lee Rayfield who is still the Bishop of Swindon. These emails were ruled out of time by the Employment Tribunal and have now been destroyed. Reverend Pereira has copies of them.

The court heard that emails dating back to May 2014 showed that several Bishops had blocked Rev Pereira’s applications due to “cultural eccentricities.”

For example, on 25 May 2014 Rev Hill wrote to colleagues: “I took some serious flack for not shortlisting him to Stoke Bishop. Lee [Rayfield, Bishop of Swindon, Training Bishop] mentioned to me that his application was culturally eccentric but this is slightly dangerous as of course Alwyn is a minority ethnic Anglican (whose cause according to the National Church, we should be promoting.)

“…There was strong support for shortlisting him at Hotwells and St.Stephens which Lee resisted… he (Rev Pereira) has much if not more experience than some getting shortlisted.”

They are important because the Employment Tribunal mentioned the emails written two years earlier from 2014, not the letter written in 2016. Judge Cadney said in court: “In my judgement there is some merit in the contention that on the face of it the emails relied on could without explanation from the respondent be sufficient for the tribunal to draw an inference of discrimination.”

In an article published about safeguarding in the Times on 15 August last year, Andrew Carey, son of former Archbishop of Canterbury George Carey, criticised the church for protecting senior clergy. He said: “The Church of England is in a mess of its own making. To atone for past failures, it has thrown junior and retired clergy under the bus in a system which lacks justice.”

Reverend Pereira, who had to move to serve a parish in Aldershot, Hampshire when he could not get a job in Bristol, is not alone in facing racial discrimination. Augustine Tanner-Ihm, a trainee vicar, contacted the Guardian about a similar problem he faced getting a curacy at the end of his training at Cranmer Hall in Durham.  He was rejected by eight metropolitan dioceses.

Mr Tanner-Ihm received one rejection email stating: “The demographic of the parish is monochrome, white working-class, where you might feel uncomfortable.” Mr Tanner-Ihm felt Cranmer Hall was trying to make him into a white, middle-class priest. Issues of ethnic identity are at the heart of his concerns.

He wrote in his penultimate report: “I refuse to be colonialised by Cranmer Hall. The Church of England will never take my blackness away from me.”

After George Floyd was killed by Police in America, there was a global outcry for racial justice. The challenge is to create a positive environment where BAME people can express themselves in culturally authentic ways and flourish.

Reverend Pereira said: “Sadly, racism is embedded in the structures of the Church. During my ordination selection interview I was advised to adapt and become more ‘English.’ Like many of my BAME colleagues, I just wanted to feel I belonged to God’s Church.

The Church must ensure that, if BAME clergy are invited to train for the ministry, they are then supported to serve in parishes throughout England alongside their Caucasian colleagues without facing barriers because of their race.

While the Church of England is right to rebuke Right Reverend Hill and this is a very important first step, it must seriously investigate all accusations of racism against serving bishops and other clergy as a matter of course.

If it does not, there is a risk that the church is scapegoating a retired bishop rather than addressing a wider culture of racism in the South West, Durham and potentially even in metropolitan boroughs across England.

Future of two hospital trusts to be decided tomorrow at NHS board meeting

Two hospital trusts – Brighton and Sussex University Hospitals (BSUH) and Western Sussex Hospitals NHS Foundation trust are due to merge in two weeks’ time on 01 April.

Chief executive Dame Marianne Griffiths DBE said: “The biggest global health crisis in a century has taught us many lessons this year but for health services none has been more important than the value of working together to keep patients safe and achieve the very best outcomes we possibly can.

“In Sussex, our collaborative approach had already delivered many benefits by the time Covid-19 engulfed us all, but it was the onset of the pandemic that strengthened our resolve to explore a merger. Our joint-response to the first wave demonstrated the improved benefits and resilience of acting as one, as well as the limitations of maintaining separation.

“In July 2020, when we formally took the decision to explore a merger, we opened the door to a future in which we can continue to deliver consistently excellent care for patients as well as provide fulfilling careers for our staff in a new organisation that would truly be better for everyone.”

NHS England and NHS Improvement (NHSEI) describe the strategic reasons for the merger of the two hospital trusts as ‘clear’ and ‘strongly supported.’ This is ahead of a key meeting of both boards to decide whether a formal application of the two trusts should proceed to merger.

The two hospital trusts have been working together for four years under a joint management contract that expires on 31 March 2021. During this time, BSUH has become the fastest improving acute hospital trust in England. BSUH came out of special measures and earned a Care Quality Commission rating of ‘good’ overall and ‘outstanding’ for caring although the trust’s responsiveness still ‘requires improvement.’

Western Hospitals maintained its own outstanding status and also became the first non-specialist acute trust to achieve outstanding ratings in all key inspection areas. The boards propose to build upon these achievements and further improve hospital services for patients in Sussex by bringing the best of both trusts together to create a new, larger organisation called University Hospitals Sussex NHS Foundation Trust (UHSussex).

Two hospital trusts

 

A public board meeting that will finalise the merger of the two hospital trusts will be held virtually in public at 2pm tomorrow, Thursday 18 March. You can watch it live using this link.

It has taken the trusts and joint executive board six months to plan the merger and they have followed a rigorous process to assess the case for change. This process was organised by NHS England that oversees the creation of all foundation trusts and NHS Improvement (NHSEI.)

A strategic outline case was approved in September 2020 and it was in response to the submission of a full business case (FBC) that NHSEI wrote to the trusts on 9 March 2021 to provide a formal merger risk rating.

In each of the key areas NHSEI assesses, such as strategy, quality and finance, the proposed merger has received a rating of Green (strategy) and Amber/Green (quality, finance and transaction execution). These risk ratings provide the boards with further assurance that the merger plans are well thought through, safe and effective.

On Thursday the full business case (FBC) will be published that sets out a compelling case for change as well as a broad range of benefits that would advantage patients, staff and communities across Sussex.

For patients, these include greater continuity of care and better access to services, as well as increased support for services under pressure due to national challenges, such as increasing demand, workforce availability and financial pressures.

University Hospitals Sussex would employ nearly 20,000 people across five main hospital sites in Sussex, with an operating budget of more than £1 billion. The FBC cites the proposed new hospital trust’s size and breadth as a key factor that would help address challenges that both BSUH and WSHT have in common with the rest of the NHS following the pandemic.

Royal Sussex Outpatients

 

Chief medical officer, Dr George Findlay, said: “We have made many improvements in recent years but it is getting harder to continue to improve our services in isolation. By working together, we can benefit from both greater scale and more opportunities to learn from each other and to do things differently.

“For example, we are developing an exciting five year clinical strategy to explore where we can make the best improvements for our patients and develop new services that ensure fewer people in Sussex have to travel elsewhere for high quality hospital care.

“It is important to recognise that our clinical strategy work also cements our commitment to continuing to invest in all the services we currently provide, including emergency, specialist, tertiary and trauma care.

“We are committed to developing our vibrant local hospitals and maintaining the services we know local people treasure, such as A&E and maternity care. By coming together as one trust, we will have the experience, expertise, funds and influence to safeguard and improve hospitals services in Sussex.

“We wish to reassure our patients that we are taking a careful and considered approach and there will be no immediate changes to any of our clinical services as a result of the merger. The driving force behind our plans is our ambition to continually improve the care we provide and we look forward to involving our patients and the communities we serve in future developments.”

University Hospitals Sussex would run seven hospitals in Chichester, Worthing, Shoreham, Haywards Health and Brighton and Hove, as well as numerous community and satellite services. The two hospital trusts would be responsible for all district general acute services for Brighton and Hove, West and Mid Sussex and parts of East Sussex.

It would also provide specialised and tertiary services across Sussex and parts of the South East, including neuroscience, arterial vascular surgery, neonatology, specialised paediatric, cardiac, cancer, renal, infectious diseases and HIV medicine services.

On Thursday (18 March) the board of directors meeting is followed by a meeting of the WSHT Council of Governors who must also give their support, along with the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, before a statutory application to merge the two trusts can be made to NHSEI.

Vicar takes on the Anglican Church over racial discrimination

When Reverend Alwyn Pereira was not shortlisted for parishes for several years after completing his curacy, he became concerned. His investigations uncovered covert racism at the heart of the Diocese in the Anglican Church in Bristol that no one had challenged.

Reverend Pereira has now taken a discrimination case to Employment Tribunal and the Clergy Discipline Commission Tribunal against senior members of Bristol’s Anglican clergy.

Rev Pereira is an ordained Anglican priest who works as Vicar of St Michael’s and the Church of the Ascension in Aldershot.

Right Reverend Mike Hill, retired Bishop of Bristol wrote in a letter to an Anglican colleague 05 July 2016: “I think the other thing I need to say, having worked closely with people from the Indian Subcontinent in my past, is that I think there are cultural differences in the way people like Alwyn (Rev Pereira) communicate, and actually handle issues of truth and clarity.

Reverend Pereira is not from the Sub-continent. His heritage is Indo-Portuguese, he was born in Kenya, and educated almost entirely in England.

Judge Cadney’s judgement from a preliminary hearing of the Employment Tribunal was published on 01 May. It said: “In my judgement there is some merit in the contention that on the face of it the emails relied on could without explanation from the respondent be sufficient for the tribunal to draw an inference of discrimination.”

The court heard that emails dating back to May 2014 showed that several Bishops had blocked Rev Pereira’s applications due to “cultural eccentricities.”

For example, on 25 May 2014 Rev Hill wrote to colleagues: “I took some serious flack for not shortlisting him to Stoke Bishop. Lee [Rayfield, Bishop of Swindon, Training Bishop] mentioned to me that his application was culturally eccentric but this is slightly dangerous as of course Alwyn is a minority ethnic Anglican (whose cause according to the National Church, we should be promoting.)

“…There was strong support for shortlisting him at Hotwells and St.Stephens which Lee resisted… he (Rev Pereira) has much if not more experience than some getting shortlisted.”

 

Anglican Church
Reverend Alwyn Pereira preaching in his church in Aldershot

In spite of the evidence, the Employment Tribunal dismissed the claim because it was out of time. It was also dismissed by the Clergy Discipline Commission Tribunal (CDC) for the same reason. However, Rev Pereira is currently seeking permission to extend the time at the CDC so the claim can be heard upon appeal.

Rev Pereira first pursued his complaint directly with the Anglican Church, a process he describes as “attrition” – it was kicked into the long grass with constant delays, presumably in the hope that Rev Pereira would drop the claim.

He explained how the discrimination felt: “The Bishop’s letter brought up a sense of real betrayal. It’s not just me who has been let down and offended but my children and every BAME person too. I trusted and respected Rev Mike Hill who was telling me one thing up front, held these views and perceptions and felt emboldened to write this to another clergyman and no-one challenged him. I’m horrified.

“We, the Church, uphold it as the place of hope and reconciliation for all ethnicities, where everyone finds their identity.” He has taken legal action because he believes there is a systemic problem with covert racism in the Anglican Church in Bristol.

Rev Pereira describes Bishop Hill’s actions as a “misuse of power… he withheld jobs from me on the basis of a racial stereotype. No one challenged him. His letter quoted above was in my personal file that everyone sees.”

He said: “I don’t feel hate towards these guys. I offered and exhausted various routes for reconciliation including mediation and these were declined.

“The Anglican Church has to be the bastion of good practice, it’s the established church. There needs to be reconciliation and recompense, there’s a culture that needs correction. The Church has paid barristers but they won’t reimburse me for loss of stipend and the reputational damage done.

“Instead they defend their immorality, they don’t think they’ve done wrong. They’ve not apologised. They genuinely think that letter is acceptable.”

Rev Hill was asked what evidence he had to substantiate his statement in the letter about cultural differences with the way people like Rev Pereira from the Indian Subcontinent handle issues of truth and clarity.

Bristol’s retired Bishop said: “l’m not saying this is a situation where there is nothing to be learnt. The Tribunal is over. The complainant I regarded and regard as a friend. I had no idea he was feeling this way and I’m surprised by it.

“We all need to be a little more honest about what we’re thinking when we’re thinking it.

“There are lessons to be learned about how we express ourselves. When I reread the letter I don’t feel good about it and it’s inappropriate to explain why.

“Out of context, the statement in the letter does not look great…

“I don’t think there’s a problem, with racism in the diocese of Bristol. At some level in all of us, prejudice does occur.

“We looked at hidden biases including gender and race in the diocese all the time. I don’t even know if some of my colleagues who were involved in the selection procedure were aware of Alwyn’s ethnic minority background.

Seven hospitals across Sussex to merge without public consultation or publication of the business case

Western Sussex Hospital’s trust (WSHNFT) is proposing a merger with Brighton and Sussex University Hospitals (BSUH) Trust to go ahead next month on 01 April, less than three weeks away. It will take place without public consultation and the trusts have still not released the business case, post transaction implementation plan and impact assessments explaining exactly what the merger will entail.

Sussex Defend the NHS are very concerned that there has been no formal, public consultation with any of the many communities seriously impacted by this reorganisation which will see BSUH, currently a place-based NHS trust aligned with unitary authority boundaries, become part of a larger foundation trust.

Campaigners expected all relevant bodies to be consulted i.e. the local authority health overview and scrutiny committee (HOSC), local Health watch organisations, NHS trade unions and the public who are the patients of both trusts. HOSC was given an outline presentation last December, focusing mainly on a staff survey, not the detailed proposals.

Concerns are mounting that patients will have to travel further to access hospital services and that NHS contracts will continue to be outsourced to the private sector. Campaigners are also concerned that hospital land will be sold to private developers.

Steve Guy from Sussex Defend the NHS said: “Even local authority leaders have been unable to ascertain what the changes are going to mean for their constituents. The only authority that is aware of the trust’s plans is NHS England, as WSHNFT has had to submit a full business case to national health bosses in London before the merger was given the go-ahead.”

public consultation

 

Unparalleled pressures on the NHS caused by the pandemic have understandably diverted all attention and resources to the frontline. However, this may have resulted in a refusal to engage in public consultation and a lack of transparency about the detailed plans arising from the merger which is now only weeks away.

To date only the shared executive team of Western hospitals and Brighton and Sussex hopsitals, their boards including governors of both trusts and a small number of unnamed ‘partners’ are the only people who have been fully briefed on the merger. No-one else has seen the business case, impact assessments or the post-transaction implementation plan for the first eighteen months.

Joint CEO of both NHS Trusts Dame Marianne Griffiths has done a lot of excellent work in turning around BSUH which was a trust in special measures and is now rated good overall by the CQC. However, several key players in the city including the unions and Sussex Defend the NHS feel they need to see the merger delayed while public consultation is undertaken. They would like to see more democratic accountability from the CEO.

Dame Marianne (Griffiths) who runs both trusts said to the Worthing Herald last July when the merger was announced: “We want everyone in our communities to play a part in shaping the future of health care in Sussex and their views will play a valuable role in building a new trust.”

She said to Brighton and Hove news: “I will update you on progress but please be assured there will be opportunities for you to ask any questions you have and feed into the future plans.”

A full business case was sent to NHS England and NHS Improvement last December but will only be shared with staff ‘in due course’ due to operational reasons.

A Brighton and Hove News reporter asked NHS England for a copy of the business case on Thursday 10 December six days after they got if from the two Sussex hospital trusts. On 07 January, he was advised to approach NHS Improvement by NHS England and he did this on the same day. On 28 January the request was refused on the ground of ‘imminent publication.’

The journalist asked for the decision to be reviewed on Tuesday 02 February and he has still not seen the business case, more than two months later. The business case, post-transaction implementation plan and impact assessments are still not in the public domain.

business case

Mr Guy said: “Since WSHNFT CEO Marianne Griffiths has formally notified the health trade unions at both trusts, inviting them to talks aimed at arranging for staff at the Brighton hospitals to transfer to her trust, (known as TUPE, Transfer of Undertakings, Protection of Employment), the health unions of both trusts have a right to demand that they are able to scrutinise the trust’s future plans as well.”

A spokesperson for Brighton and Sussex hospitals trust said: “The benefits of working together became even more apparent during the first wave of Coronavirus last year and, as the shared leadership arrangements were due for review, these benefits, and the potential gains from even greater integration, informed the boards’ decision, on 1 July 2020, to pursue a merger…

“A public consultation, however, is not required because we are not proposing a substantial change to services. In fact, we have committed to continuing to invest in the services delivered by WSHT and BSUH. The continuous improvement of all our patient services is the driving force behind our proposed merger and we are confident that by coming together we will continue to improve hospital care in Sussex.”

Brighton’s Green MP fights for businesses in response to the Budget

Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced his annual budget today, Wednesday 03 March. He has been in post for just over a year and has made fifteen statements in the House of Commons since the pandemic began. His budget sets out his forecasts for growth, including an extension of the furlough scheme until September and some help for businesses and limited aid for the self-employed.

No additional funding was announced for the NHS apart from for vaccination roll out and victims of domestic violence.

According to the OBR which is the Office of Budget Responsibility the economy shrank by 10% last year, the sharpest fall since 1709. OBR forecast growth of 7.3% next year. National debt which is the sum total of every budget deficit is high – 88.8% of GDP and is forecast to rise to 97% in 2023-24. It should then stabilise.

Brighton’s Green MP Caroline Lucas said: “After campaigning hard for business rates relief to be extended, I am glad the Chancellor listened and provided a partial lifeline for hundreds of businesses in Brighton and Hove who have held on during this pandemic, but faced a cliff-edge at the end of March.

“I welcome too, the VAT reduction which I have also called for, and the announcement of restart grants for businesses.  But we need to see the detail on this.  If they are restricted based on rateable value, important parts of our economy like business to business suppliers and the live events sector will continue to lose out.”

businesses
Caroline Lucas, Brighton’s Green MP

Talking about the self-employed she said: “The extension of support for the self-employed is critical to our local economy and it’s good to see some of those excluded from previous schemes are now able to access income support. But the continued exclusion of directors of limited companies, PAYE freelancers, those who combine self-employment with PAYE and others is unforgivable.

“And help for local businesses, and an extension to the furlough scheme, cannot compensate for the gaping hole at the heart of this budget – its failure to acknowledge, let alone address, the climate and ecological crises.”

The Chancellor has announced a new national infrastructure bank which will open in Leeds with £12 billion capital invested by the government. In addition, government will invest £15bn in green bonds, including for retail investors, to help finance the transition to net zero carbon emissions by 2050.

Net zero emissions will become the responsibility of the Bank of England. According to Peter Walker from the Guardian, these announcements are “obligatory now” due to Mrs Lucas’ Green New Deal and are “fairly modest.”

When speaking about climate change and ecological issues, Mrs Lucas said: “These two issues weren’t even mentioned – a massive oversight which makes me wonder what planet Rishi Sunak is living on.  We desperately needed an ambitious budget for a greener, fairer future that would create new local jobs.

“Instead we got a few announcements dressed up as “green growth” when, in reality, one of the few ‘green’ initiatives this Government has launched – the Green Homes Grants scheme – is being starved of funds leaving householders and businesses in the lurch.

“With nothing to replace it, there is now no substantial government-supported programme to cut emissions from buildings – which is essential if we are to meet climate targets.

“We need transformational change to address the climate and nature crises, and the deep inequalities in our society.  We need a redesigned economy that puts people and nature first, not one that is stuck in the past.

“A better, fairer, greener future is within our reach and I and many others will keep campaigning for it.”

Meet the couple who set up Windward Grove during the pandemic

Mr Bubloz has always wanted to run a business since leaving university. During the coronavirus outbreak in July 2020, Mr and Mrs Bubloz got married, had a baby and set up the estate agency, Windward Grove.

For many people, 2020 did not go quite to plan but Mr and Mrs Bubloz are grateful. He said: “Four years ago, completion of our house purchase fell on Leah’s birthday in December 2016 and four years later to the day, we got engaged. We were never going to have a big, massive wedding. It was never going to be extravagant. We booked Malmaison for 11th April. But the coronavirus was growing and growing. My stag do was my last social activity before the first lockdown. It was the day before.”

Like almost everything else, the couple’s wedding was cancelled. Mrs Bubloz said: “We planned to have 90 people at the hotel and 15 at the Registry Office. Then a honeymoon in Rome which was at the epicentre of the coronavirus. Everything was cancelled. However nobody but us knew at this time we were expecting a baby, so we did have something else to be excited about.

“We saw a lot of upset posts and messages on social media written directly to us: ‘It’s terrible that your wedding has been cancelled.’ But we thought, people are dying and we’re basically just not having a party, the sympathy is more worthwhile elsewhere.

Mr Bubloz said: “Instead, we were excited and planning how to launch our business.”

In the end, the couple got married at a registry office on 3rd October, with their parents as witnesses. They rearranged Malmaison for December 2020 and have postponed it again.

Mr Bubloz said: “We’re appreciative of Malmaison, if you need to postpone for more than a year, you should lose your deposit. It’s been well over a year: our wedding celebration is planned for August, not April.”

Mr and Mrs Bubloz said: “It’s a whirlwind, everything is going on at once.”

Windward Grove
Simon and Leah Bubloz of Windward Grove

For Mr Bubloz self-employment is an opportunity. He said: “I view my job like a mortgage. After fifty years as an employee in an estate agency, you retire and that’s it. If we create a customer base, we have an asset that we’re building up every day. Rent from lettings comes in. Most people work their whole career, get a pension but nothing overall in return.”

Explaining his approach, Mr Bubloz said: “I try to be the closest thing to a family friend who knows about lettings. It’s just nice to be liked and to be totally transparent. In many estate agencies, staff don’t want customers to hear 50% of conversations because they are about how the company could benefit (not the customer.)

“Some agencies trick customers into paying for a higher service. There’s a lot of pressure to upsell i.e. encourage customers to pay more than they should. We give them the option for more expensive service but there’s no pressure.”

Flexibility is key to the success of Windward Grove. Most viewings take place in the evenings and on Sunday when other agencies are closed. Mr Bubloz said there are no hidden fees like mark ups on tradesmen which gives the traders an expensive reputation. Fees are agreed upfront.

Mrs Bubloz said: “If we’re selling, we don’t commit anyone to using a sole agency. We absolutely don’t want to make you sell with us and end up with a toxic relationship: if you want to bring in a new estate agent, you can but we will do our best to make sure you don’t need to.

“Where we worked before in the biggest online, hybrid estate agency, we feel they weren’t harnessing the technology. It was during the first lockdown we set up Windward Grove in July. We offer a 360° virtual property tour that boosts our adverts. They’re brilliant.

“We saw a 360° virtual tour at Malmaison, specifically we looked at the function room for the wedding. Lockdown underlined even more that agents should use these – even for viewing a single room.”

Mr Bubloz said “Often estate agents outsource imagery and charge £200+ for the virtual tour he explained. Windward Gove charge £45. Mr Bubloz takes all of the photographs and videos himself. He offers professional level photography. However, he said: “If a customer wants to instruct a professional photographer, they absolutely can.”

Communication is a key strength of the husband and wife team and it is how they look after their customers. Mr Bubloz said he looks forward to writing the job description for the Associate role which will be on a self-employed basis where each associate finds and manages their own customers.

Mr Bubloz said: “We don’t have crazy bosses obsessed with figures and viewings. If viewing numbers are low, the property is probably too expensive.”

Environmental concerns are important to Mr and Mrs Bubloz. They drive low emission vehicles, the office space where most of the work on customers’ properties is done is powered by solar and Windward Grove is paperless. All contracts are handled electronically using ‘Signable’ technology, but they can be printed and posted if required.

Windward Grove operates across Sussex including Brighton and Hove but their Head Quarters are in Littlehampton where they hope to sell most of their properties, initially.

To find out the value of your home, you can enter your details into their instant valuation tool that uses Land Registry data.

You can meet Mr Bubloz at the Brighton Property Investor Network where he provides the monthly lettings briefing.

Mr and Mrs Bubloz from Windward Grove, are the property professionals, who do more for less.

Prize draw raises £80,000 for charity and gives away over £365,000

Painter’s Keep was originally a water tower built in 1925 in the Kingston Gorse Estate, known as ‘millionaire’s row’ in East Preston, near Angmering, West Sussex. Currently the property is valued at £1.25 million. It has been fully refurbished and has stunning, panoramic views from the tower. Due to Brexit, stamp duty changes and the pandemic, Mr Pearce decided to run a prize draw to sell his house.

Mr Pearce, a management consultant, said: “The prize draw was a chance to try something different, I genuinely believed in my triple objectives: to move house, change someone’s life, and raise money for charity. It seemed like a perfect solution. £2 tickets makes it accessible.”

He was determined to keep tickets affordable: “I wanted everybody to have the opportunity to win this house and I believe, that at £2, just about everyone can afford to win this house.”

prize draw
Peter Pearce with Simon Bubloz outside Painter’s Keep

Mr Pearce needed to sell 750,000 tickets and raise £1.5 million to guarantee the reserve price of the house sale, cover stamp duty, fees and donations to his two chosen charities. He sold 433,943 tickets including free tickets for referrals and postal entries.

Unfortunately these ticket sales were not enough to sell the house. Instead, a very sizeable cash prize of £365, 305 was awarded on Wednesday 09 December at a live award ceremony.

The winners

Simon Bubloz from Windward Grove was the master of ceremony during the prize draw. Mr Bubloz said: “It’s all possible because of Peter. Congratulations to the winners.”

The cash prize instead of the house was £365,305 raised from the ticket sales. The draw included purchased tickets, free tickets and postal entries. The winning number was: 2009B6. James won it, he bought 22 tickets and currently lives abroad. He has links to Sussex and Hampshire.

Gary won £10,000. This prize was awarded to the person who got the most other people involved in the prize draw. Gary made over 500 referrals to friends and family.

Katrina won a £3000 referral prize which was open to everyone who referred two other people to the prize draw. She spoke to Mr Pearce during a live telephone call. She said she was at the Duke of Wellington in Shoreham when she bought tickets. Her father worked on the roof of Painter’s Keep. She said: “I’ll save the money for a nice holiday. I helped the hospice, I’m so pleased to help.”

Painter's Keep

Eighty percent of the proceeds are awarded in prize money to the winners less the costs of running the prize draw and 10% of the gross ticket sales which amount to £78,051 will go to St Barnabas House and their sister hospice, Chestnut Tree House for children.

St Barnabas House charity

In this interview with Mr Bubloz, Mr Pearce explained the importance of the charities: “My father died at St Barnabas and we wanted the hospice to benefit. The care that they provide, the work they do, is one of those things that we keep out of our consciousness until we need it and if ever you’ve experienced it, you’ll know it’s incredible.

“They’re going through an incredibly tough time. Their income has been devastated because a vast amount of fundraising involves people getting together and they’ve not been able to do that (because of the pandemic.)

“So Dad passing there was a tough experience but it was made a lot less tough by the care that they provided.”

Becki Jupp, Fundraising and Communications director at St Barnabas House said thank you to Peter and everybody who has bought tickets, almost £80,000 will make such a difference to both hospices. “It has been a really tricky year for fundraising… It costs around £13.5m to run both hospices every year.”

The Owner

Asked about the future, Mr Pearce said: “I’m looking forward to the next chapter. I get quite upset about social distancing, when a toddler smiles at me, I can’t smile back because I have a mask on. Since the pandemic started, I want to be travelling, wake me up when it’s all over. I’d like to go to South America.”

“We’ve looked at potential opportunities, I want to live a life that’s a lot more eclectic. Travelling, back for three months then off again. The house is not a negative tie. It’s near the beach. But seventeen years is a long time, I’m ready to do new things.”

Harry Tuke, from Elite Law Solicitors, Hove, witnessed the draw. He said: “This is an eye opener, I’ve never been involved in a competition before but they’re becoming increasingly popular. I’m a big supporter of it. People have been forced to think outside the box, spend a small amount of money for a potentially very large reward.”

This article was published in the Worthing Herald.

Have your say on Policing in Sussex

Residents of Brighton and Hove are being invited to have your say on policing priorities by Sussex Police & Crime Commissioner (PCC) Katy Bourne. She wants to ensure your concerns are reflected in her revised Police and Crime Plan.

Mrs Bourne has launched two surveys that will supplement her #TalkSussex programme of virtual public consultations and meetings so that even more residents can have their say in the setting of next year’s policing budget.

PCC Bourne has been working closely with Sussex Police to plan for a range of potential post-Covid funding scenarios and how they might impact on existing plans and policing.

policing

For many people in Sussex, the pandemic has meant hardship and heartache and put public services under increased pressure, including our police. Mrs Bourne wants to hear what is important to residents to help inform her Police and Crime Plan and spending plans for the next four years. Have your say today by completing the short survey or a game in the form of a pie chart for youngsters.

The PCC is also reaching out to younger residents with her ‘policing challenge game,’ giving them the opportunity to tell her what policing priorities matter most to them by challenging them, in a fun game, to assign ‘priority tokens’ to the eight major strands of Sussex Police’s work in the community.

Mrs Bourne said: “I want to ensure that all local communities are represented in my next Police & Crime Plan. In the past, we know that the majority of responses to our online polls are from residents aged 55 and over so I really want to hear from younger people as well. All views will be reflected in my decision-making and will help shape the future of Sussex Police. Make sure to have your say today.”

All data will be collated on 10th January and will also be used to inform PCC Bourne’s Police & Crime Plan for 2021/22.

An edited version of this article was published by Brighton and Hove News.

Let’s go alfresco to beat Covid-19

Letter to the Times about alfresco living

Dear Sir/Madam

I wonder why it has escaped our politicians notice, that it’s essential for them to do all in their power to incentivize the country to embrace going alfresco to combat Covid-19 even though the season has now changed and become more inclement.

alfresco walking

It was an aspiration back in the Spring and Summer which was mostly enjoyed, however not enough in my opinion. I would have more than encouraged all the schools or shops and every cafe, pub and restaurant to embrace alfresco dining in the streets, parks and playing fields. Asking local councils to relax any restrictions. This is a unique emergency.

Unused marquees or gazebos and circus big top tents would have been a blessing and hiring them could have helped those businesses who couldn’t utilise them because of social distancing requirements.

But the political imagination wasn’t there.

I now believe that since autumn has come, going alfresco with suitable outdoor heating, covers , windbreaks has now become absolutely essential. On days where it’s just too inclement to open, then perhaps the establishments should temporarily close if they can’t open several windows etc. indoors to guarantee adequate ventilation.

Alfresco coffee and cake
Filter coffee and cake alfresco

I’m afraid the additional carbon released into the atmosphere is a temporary necessity to keep the country healthy and businesses or schools and colleges etc. functioning. I would also suggest those businesses above that can’t open outside entirely should consider creating as much ventilation as possible inside too.

I think we could all happily for one autumn/winter get used to wearing sweaters and coats most of the time and supporting all of the above establishments with enthusiasm when they are able to open. The wonderful  NHS could then be spared the height of the second wave of Covid which is now gaining increased momentum and an exit plan for those areas and in some sort of lockdown would be available.

Yours faithfully

Clive Holt

Clive Holt alfresco
Clive Holt

GMB and NHS nurses rally again in Brighton tomorrow

Nurses and GMB, the union for NHS workers, are supporting a second national day of protest marches and rallies across the country.  The union, which has been at the forefront of the fight for fair pay for all workers in the NHS, is supporting hard working NHS staff as they try to convince the Government that they deserve a 15% pay rise.

Protests tomorrow, Saturday 12th September, will be peaceful and socially distanced at Hove Lawns opposite Grand Avenue at 11am as well as at the BBC in London and Bournemouth.

Kelly Robbins, who is the rally organiser and a nurse said: “We were feeling overworked and exhausted as many of us were forced to work longer hours, tougher hours, staying away from our families for weeks at a time, fighting an ever-evolving situation with inadequate PPE, but fought on we did.

“Whilst seeing one of the highest healthcare worker death rates in the world from Covid-19, we accepted the risk, determined to do what’s best for our patients and the country.

“Ministers have been happy to ‘clap for the NHS’ but have failed to deliver real signs of appreciation for NHS workers – excluding many from a well-deserved pay rise and resulting in yet another real-terms cut.

“The Government has easily forgotten and abandoned the very same people that have saved their lives.”

Kelly Robbins

Ms Robbins and other GMB NHS members are angry that they were left out of the recent public sector pay deal and are at least 20% worse off in real terms than they were 10 years ago.

There are currently around 100,000 vacancies in the NHS because of under resourcing and funding cuts and morale is very low among NHS nurses and other staff.

According to GMB, platitudes and clapping are being offered by the government instead of decent pay or improvements to terms and conditions. The NHS workforce has proven itself to be consistently reliable and caring, even before the heroism of fighting the Covid crisis which is ongoing.

NHS workers have paid a huge cost in treating people with COVID.  Many of their colleagues have lost their lives, yet they remain ignored when it comes time for the care bill to be settled. GMB is concerned that the hard work by nurses will be used as evidence for further austerity and cuts by the government.

Gary Palmer, GMB Regional Organiser, said: “GMB were clear that the 15% only begins to address the last decade of pay freezes and enforced pay caps, ending in the recent disastrous three year deal which ends in April. It saw long serving NHS staff pay increases below the cost of living.

“Frankly our members have told us enough is enough, and that although the support was welcomed the ‘Praise, Clapping, and Kind Words’ aren’t exchangeable in the shops for food or bills and rent or mortgage payments.

“Risking your life and that of your family members to care for all those unfortunate enough to get sick throughout this the pandemic wasn’t enough for this government.

“They don’t appear to be considering bringing any pay rise forward as a thank you, before even taking into account just how much NHS staff have lost in real terms over the last 10 years.

“This is clearly now a straight battle between a worthless government and a priceless workforce, with the GMB backing the NHS workers all the way.

“They remain there for you! How about being there for them?  Join GMB and NHS workers on Saturday 12th September at a NHS rally near you!”

GMB

Brighton Health Chief refuses to recognise BME network

Chief Executive of the Brighton and Sussex University Healthcare Trust (BSUH), Marianne Griffiths, has refused to restore recognition to an active NHS Black and Minority Ethnic (BME) staff network that has more than 300 members. The work of the network has never been more important than during the pandemic which affects BME staff and patients more than others.

Councillors, campaigning groups and trade unionists from across Brighton and Hove and beyond have signed an open letter urging Ms Griffiths to restore recognition to the staff BME Network and to address long-standing issues of structural discrimination and institutional racism in the hospital trust.

Between 2004 and 2017 the network had been operating effectively in the Trust with more than 500 members until Ms Griffiths took over. After losing an Employment Tribunal claim for racial discrimination in 2007 the then CEO of the Trust agreed to work in partnership with the BME Network to improve race relations.

Together, the Trust and the network developed a Race Equality Engagement Strategy which was being implemented at the time of Ms Griffiths’ appointment. She made it clear that if it were to continue, the BME Network would have to be subject to her requirements which threatened the independence of the network.

Since Ms Griffiths took up her appointment in April 2017, three senior BME colleagues who were instrumental in providing leadership to the network have been dismissed and several employment tribunal cases are pending with one claim subject to an appeal.

The Network informed Ms Griffiths they found the dismissals unacceptable and the Trust severed all links and joint working, withdrawing formal recognition of the network.

In response to the BME network’s letter, Ms Griffiths wrote earlier this week: “When the new Board took responsibility for the Trust in 2017, it began to address multiple longstanding cultural issues, including race equality. The Trust had been failing and a new approach was required to many issues.

“The BME Network had an opportunity to engage with shaping the approach to race alongside the Trust’s leadership and the national WRES team. The Network’s stance was to offer engagement only on its terms, being an insistence that the Board accept the Network’s pre-existing approach. The Network publicly derided the Board and refused to accept its responsibility to set the approach. Therefore, the chance for the Network’s leadership to engage was lost although its members were invited to engage through the channels offered to all staff…

“It is unrealistic to expect the Board to undermine the hard work of others over the last two years, reinstate an obsolete agreement and embark on agreeing a new strategy with you… the Board will not agree to step back two years and adopt the points made in your letter.”

The BME network said that the WRES is open to all staff but the BME network is a bespoke network for BME staff only, giving them a unique voice. In their response to Ms Griffiths letter above, they wrote: “You will be well aware that the Chief People Officer of the NHS, Prerana Issar, has set a challenge for every NHS organisation to have a BME staff Network in place and for every Network to be ‘driving, thriving and influencing with the help of real support from their organisation.’

Ms Griffiths is seeking to revive the network in Western Sussex Hospitals (WSH) but is denying recognition to the BME network at the BSUH Trust in Brighton and Hove.

Madeleine Dickens, of Sussex Defend NHS, said: “Sussex Defend the NHS condemns the treatment to which the BME Network of the Brighton and Sussex University Hospital Trust and black and minority ethnic members of staff have been subjected by the Chief Executive Marianne Griffiths and senior Trust management. We stand together with the BME Network in all its demands, including for the Network to be reinstated with immediate effect. The treatment of the network is symptomatic of racial discrimination and institutionalised racism across the NHS, which has to be urgently acknowledged and addressed by Ms Griffiths and her management team.”

An edited version of this article was published by Brighton and Hove News.

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