Five new Mary Seacole scholars are unveiled

Recipients of UNISON-backed awards are honoured

Five nursing and midwifery specialists were inducted as scholars at this year’s prestigious Mary Seacole awards today (Thursday 24 October) at a ceremony at St Thomas’ Hospital in London.

UNISON co-sponsors the awards, which offer an opportunity for healthcare workers to undertake a project, educational or development activity that benefits and improves the health of people from BME communities.

Recipients have been working on their projects for the past year, funded by Health Education England, and today is the culmination of all their hard work.

The awards are in memory of Mary Seacole, the Jamaican Scottish nurse, who bravely nursed soldiers during the Crimean War (1853-1856).

The new scholars are (pictured clockwise from top left):
– Dorcas Gwata, Clinical Lead, Integrated Gangs Unit, Central North West London NHS Foundation Trust
Leadership Award:  Improving leadership in Mental Health interventions for adolescents from African and Middle Eastern backgrounds who are affected by gang culture (vulnerable, violent and exploited) in Westminster.
– Sarah Chitongo, Middlesex University
Development Award: Preventing deaths in high risk black minority ethnic (BME) groups in maternity services.
– Dr Obrey Alexis, Oxford Brookes University
Leadership Award: A qualitative study examining black African and black Caribbean men’s experiences of prostate cancer and their perceived needs.
– Alis Rasul, Moseley Hall Hospital, Birmingham
Leadership Award:  Approachable Parenting: A realist evaluation of the health visitor role in co-delivering a culturally sensitive early intervention programme to support the mental health of Muslim families.
– Kanta Kumar, University of Birmingham
Development Award: Perceptions of Doppler ultrasound scan among Black and minority ethnic patients with rheumatoid arthritis.

UNISON assistant national officer for health Val Johnston, vice chair of the awards, said: “As a member of the steering group, I have become aware of the unique collaborative approach that not only supports the recipients with mentorship while they carry out their projects, but also supports them in their wider development, offering them exposure to development and networking opportunities relevant to their subject area.

“The importance of these awards can’t be underestimated. They are highly regarded and have a direct impact on the service and patient care. The personal impact on staff has been inspiring to observe, as they champion efforts to tackle health inequalities and encourage others to do so.”

Chair of the Mary Seacole awards committee Obi Amadi said: “Once again, the panel members were presented with very high quality projects that will benefit and improve the lives of those from the BAME communities.

“Today’s scholars have spent the last year working hard and refining their projects. It is wonderful that they have now completed them, following vigorous scrutiny from their mentors. They are now proudly inducted into the rollcall of Mary Seacole alumni.

“We hope that their individual efforts will act as a spur for those thinking of coming forward to participate in the Mary Seacole awards in the years to come.”

Notes to editors:
– The Mary Seacole awards are staged annually and jointly organised by four unions – Unite, UNISON, Royal College of Nursing and Royal College of Midwives.
– UNISON national officer for nursing Stuart Tuckwood will take over as chair of the steering group.