Blog on Black History Month 2022 from members of Together’s Black Staff and Staff from Ethnic Minorities Inclusion Group

Black History Month runs through October and the theme for 2022 is Time for Change: Action Not Words. Full details can be found at

For the month at Together some members of the Black Staff and Staff from Ethnic Minorities Inclusion Group have written a blog to explain what the month means to them and to share how they have found being part of the group. In addition to that we wanted to look at a theme that relates to mental health which was established by surveying the group which will also be addressed in the blog which is:

  • How racial discrimination affects wellbeing and causes mental distress and change we need to see to combat this

We hope to explore the theme above more as the month goes on with staff and people who use our services. For the month we also asked our Black Staff and Staff from Ethnic Minorities Inclusion Group whether they would like us to update our logo for the month to reflect Black History Month which they said they would. As a result we will be updating our logo to reflect that on our website and social media channels for the month.

Our first contributor is Amjid Jabbar who is a Recovery Worker at our Wavelly House Accommodation Service:

Modern day Britain and society thereof is made up of people from many ethnicities. We know that many people from South Asian communities and the Caribbean arrived in Britain post WWII and helped to build the country after the devastation of the war. Black History Month is an opportunity for us to focus on the Black community and how they play an important part in Britain.

” I feel that Black History Month (BHM) is a chance to celebrate and promote the achievements of the black community whilst at the same time addressing and confronting the racism that still exists today. To me, the month comes in various formats with music, food, art and culture and ways of learning and experiencing this. I will be attending BHM activities in my local area where I live. I have family who have roots in Africa so BHM is important to me and my family on a very personal level. For me it’s about bringing people together from all races and to enjoy and learn from each other at the same time.

It is a fact that our nation has always been influenced by the presence of different races and nationalities and their undeniable contribution to our culture and economy. But the struggle against ethnic and racial discrimination in the UK is not yet over. Throughout society there are still subtle and sometime explicit racial stereotypes and prejudices displayed every day.

I have been part of many support groups like Together’s Black Staff and Staff from Ethnic Minorities Inclusion Group in past employment and I have always taken part. I am so pleased that Together have taken steps to create these for staff to attend.

I attend because I believe I can make a difference through my contribution and because I know senior managers who attend will listen to my suggestions. If they don’t attend, I know our People Inclusion Manager will raise concerns for me or give guidance. The groups are safe places for me to talk, where I can share my positive and negative experiences of working for Together. I do this to help others who may experience negative experiences in their workplace to empower them to speak up. For me groups like this are vital so that discrimination in the workplace is identified and something is done about it. My belief is that everyone at Together has a responsibility in challenging discrimination. Groups like these are for staff to get the support they need and to discuss matters. We can all make a difference if we work together.

On the theme of how racial discrimination affects wellbeing and causes mental distress I would agree mental distress can be exacerbated by racism. Racism can come in different formats and can be direct or subtle. People can unwittingly be racially discriminatory but that does not excuse it because it still needs to be called out. Unconscious bias is something we all must be mindful about. To combat racial discrimination, everyone needs to take responsibility and to challenge it when necessary. How we challenge racism in the workplace is something the Black Staff and Staff from Ethnic Minorities Inclusion Group can help with so I encourage everyone within our organisation to contact me to start having that conversation.”

Our second contributor is Sanyu Zimbe who is Facilities and Sustainability Manager at Together:

Black History Month to me is the celebration of black people, past, present and future. This is a time for us to come together and reflect on key events in Black British history, to honour those that have paved the way for us and come together to celebrate Blackness, continuing the fight for equality.

“As a first-generation immigrant and a proud Ugandan woman, I particularly see that black British culture is so nuanced, made up of people with African and Caribbean ancestry – our identities are vast and varied. Black history month gives us a chance to educate others about our culture and allows us to celebrate achievements as a community. Where we can honour our identity, through food, music and immerse ourselves in the many rich cultures we are a part of.

While we have come such a long way, it is important that we acknowledge how Black people and those from ethnic minorities are disproportionately disadvantaged and overrepresented in our prison systems. In the year to March, black people were almost 5 times as likely as white people to be detained under the Mental Health Act – 344 detentions per 100,000 people, compared with 75 per 100,000 people.

This is why I want to take this time to acknowledge how racism impacts Black people’s mental health and why we should use Black History Month to talk about how Black people can seek help and be supported. In particular, Black women experience disproportionate rates of mental health issues and despite Black people experiencing higher rates of mental health conditions than White people, the latter are more than twice as likely to receive treatment for their mental health problems. This, coupled with the above statistic, paints a brutal picture of the lack of support and help available for Black people.

Creating Black centred spaces that provide accessible mental health support is so important. We must continue our commitment to increasing diversity and inclusion in healthcare, so that Black people can speak to doctors and therapists who understand the way racial discrimination exacerbates mental stress. These subjects require appropriate care and must be delicately comprehended. All healthcare professionals should have an understanding of the nuances in how being racialised effects your experience of mental health.

Part of this aim for black centred support is Together’s Black and Ethnic Minority Reference Group. I feel proud and thankful to be a part of the group as it gives us a space to discuss the concerns that particularly affect us. We always lead with empathy, working towards promoting diversity equity and inclusion, in our workplace and beyond. It is this philosophy that I encourage every workplace to implement, carving out a space for ethnic minorities to support one another, voice grievances and simply, be. We all have a responsibility to address racism and support our colleagues. Particularly with regard to the mental wellbeing of Black people and people belonging to other ethnic minorities. Black history month is a time to educate and a time to address the current injustices so we can commit to change. We must acknowledge that there is still a long way to go in ending ethnic and racial discrimination. But in the meantime, Together can lead by example, continuing to give a voice to those who are disadvantaged, provide spaces of support and celebration and have the difficult conversations around racism and prejudice that we must have to create genuine social change.”

Thank you to Amjid and Sanyu for taking the time to create these blogs and share their insights.