NORTH Cumbria Integrated Care NHS Foundation Trust is celebrating its international employees as part of Black History Month.

Black History Month is an opportunity for people from all walks of life to celebrate the contributions of black colleagues, to educate each other on the inequalities experienced by people from BAME backgrounds, and to inspire one another to maintain and further develop an inclusive and diverse society which is supportive and welcoming for all.

This year’s theme is Be Proud.

One of the Trust's employees is Johnny Nyaaba. Johnny was born in Ghana and now works as a nurse at NCIC. He said: “Black History Month is important to me because it reminds me of Black Excellence, and that leaves me in awe, motivated and inspired to do more to continue that excellence.

“I am excited about the upcoming Black History Month. There are at least two things on my to-do list. First, I will donate blood to save lives, and second, I will share my lived experience as an international nurse with staff, detailing my journey from Ghana to the United Kingdom to work.

“I will talk about my odyssey from Ghana to the UK from preparation, examinations, travelling, settling and starting work in a totally new different environment. I will mention the ups and downs, leaving family behind and cultural differences.”

Another staff member, Evelyn Nakachwa, is a nurse in the Intensive Care Unit at the Cumberland Infirmary. She is originally from Kampala in Uganda, East Africa.

Evelyn shared: “Being an African woman living in diaspora, Black History Month has come to mean a lot more to me. It is not something that is widely known or even celebrated back home.

“Black History Month means intentional recognition and appreciation of the contribution of the people of colour in whichever sector they offer services. I am black every day, and this recognition should become the norm. I wish people of colour were celebrated daily.

“Black History Month is not only for black people but for all people of colour. It is a celebration for the achievements, fights and struggles we have overcome throughout history to the present day. Black History Month reminds us of where we have come from. It is encouraging and most of all empowering.”

Now in its 34th year, Black History Month is celebrated throughout October, with this year marking 18 months since the start of the pandemic.