Hallam study to explore racism in healthcare during pandemic

6th October 2020

Academics from Sheffield Hallam University are collaborating with internationally renowned documentary film collective Migrant Media to study the impact of racism on BME nurses and care workers during the Covid-19 pandemic.

The inter-disciplinary research project, Nursing Narratives – Racism and the Pandemic, will be undertaken by academics from the Culture and Creativity Research Institute and the College of Health, Wellbeing and Life Sciences at Sheffield Hallam.

It has been awarded funding from the Arts and Humanities Research Council following UK Research and Innovations call for projects to explore the impact of Covid-19.

The research will put nurses centre stage as part of the World Health Organisation’s Year of the Nurse and Midwife 2020.

Professor Anandi Ramamurthy, Reader in Post-Colonial Cultures at Sheffield Hallam, said: “The coronavirus outbreak has laid bare the structural inequalities of our society and BME communities have suffered the greatest losses. Using creative storytelling we aim to deepen the societal understanding of the critical contribution that BME nurses and care workers have made to the NHS and social care, both historically and today.

“The stories of BME nursing staff and the pandemic are entwined with complex histories of racism which can only be fully understood through amplifying the experiences and voices of those who have been marginalised.

“We hope to develop our understanding of what went wrong in our response to the pandemic and consider what lessons we can learn to create a more equitable society and an NHS that is able to deliver the best patient care.

The Nursing Narratives – Racism and the Pandemic study will explore how racism has played out during the pandemic and the impact that this has had on the lives of those working in healthcare. Film and wider storytelling techniques will be used to profile the stories of nurses and care staff, and to document the diverse racisms that they have encountered and challenged throughout their working lives.

Ken Fero, UK documentary filmmaker and co-founder of Migrant Media, adds: “The documentary will collaborate with a wide range of people who have experienced racism in healthcare, even as they tried to save the dying. Our lives have been in their hands throughout the pandemic and it is important that the public’s overwhelming respect and support of the NHS that has manifested is not transitory. It is important that those who have been on the Covid-19 frontline – so many of whom have been from black and migrant backgrounds – have their experiences documented and their hopes for the future heard.

“This research is not only focused on collecting stories of racial discrimination and the impact of long-term discrimination on individual and institutional approaches to a crisis. Viewing the ‘pandemic as a portal’ through which we can re-shape our direction as a society, we will centre the insights of those on the frontline as a crucial asset in creating significant change.” 

The project team includes Professor Ramamurthy as principle investigator, with Sadiq Bhanbhro and Punita Chowbey as co-investigators. 

Individuals who would like to take part in the project are encouraged to contact the project team: nursingnarrativesuk@gmail.com or visit www.nursingnarratives.com.

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