The importance of respect

Molly Case

11 / 8 / 2015 1.40pm

Performance poet, novelist and nurse, Molly Case, gives insight into her views on equality and diversity ahead of speaking at our conference on 23 September – Working Better for Patients: Diversity and Inclusion in the NHS. 

"It’s a great thing to work in one of the most diverse cities in the world. Even better to work within a hospital located in such a diverse borough. Nearly 310,000 people live in Lambeth – that’s over 100 people living in each hectare, (which is about the size of Trafalgar Square), and more than twice the population density of London. So, as you can imagine, the hospital I work in is busy and, naturally, so incredibly varied that no two patients and no two members of staff could ever possibly have the same stories to tell. 

The hospital feels like a meeting point for all these tales, a delta where tortuous life-streams converge. Every shift I learn something, yes about my new career, but mainly about human beings. The importance of listening, of kindness and tolerance, of respect and how being interested in each other makes such a difference to how we live our lives here in the hospital, here in Lambeth, in London, in the UK and on this planet.  
At the hospital, 43 per cent of the staff are from a black and minority ethnic (BME) background and 54 per cent are white. Statistics don’t actually tell us a lot. They are just figures, and this is only one example. But in my own mind I hope it is a marker suggesting that diversity and inclusion might be present in my workplace. However I feel a guilt and a sadness that not everybody feels that diversity is inclusive of them.
I know from my friends and colleagues and from my own life experiences that this is the case. I feel a great amount of frustration about this and anger, too. Institutionalised norms that are default in our society are stuck fast within our culture, our language, our advertisements, our television shows, our books and our art, and mean that the cumulative effect of these retrograde steps that have gone on so long, have turned retrograde steps into retrograde leaps, careering us into an alienating and damaging future for so many people. 

Our own behaviour within our day-to-day lives is of huge importance – myself, I am lucky coming from a safe place within this society – and I feel compelled to try and help interrupt this damaging rhetoric that is so ingrained within everything we do. 

I doubt Lambeth is perfect and, unless I spoke to everybody that passes through the doors at the hospital, I will never be able to know that, but I’m glad we’re talking about it and I for one am listening."

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