• WomenintheNHS

Opinion: Small Acts of Activism | Tara Humphrey, Founder of THC Primary Care & BofHC Podcast Host

Setting up a successful mentorship programme for people from ethnically diverse backgrounds to support future leaders in the NHS

I find myself in a unique and privileged position.


I am a black woman, born in the UK and I straddle multiple worlds: entrepreneurship, the NHS, I am also a blogger, podcaster and activist. I run my consultancy THC Primary Care, which has been supporting primary care organisations and networks for the past seven years.


"In the height of the pandemic, I got out an A3 piece of paper and mapped out my mentorship programme ... [it] also included me awarding £10,000 of my own money in educational grants."

Over the years, the lack of diverse leadership in healthcare for all the obvious reasons is becoming increasingly important to me. Still, I never thought I could do anything about it. I then realised I have more power and influence than I initially thought. I believe we all do.


When George Floyd’s life was sadly taken in 2020, I felt compelled to speak up and do something, but what could someone like me do?


I traced back the steps that had led me to where I am today, and the constant in my life was support, mentorship and education.


"To date, our mentorship programme has supported 28 people from ethnically diverse backgrounds from the field of health and care."

In the height of the pandemic, I got out an A3 piece of paper and mapped out my mentorship programme. Who it was for, how it would be organised and how I would promote it. The programme also included me awarding £10,000 of my own money in educational grants.


I initially set out to mentor everyone by myself, but then the most remarkable thing happened. People I have never met asked through social media how they could support me. Initially, I declined the offer because I wanted to do this on my own, and then I realised: "Tara, don’t be stupid! Accept their help!"


"I have given £17,000 in educational and health care inequality grants."

Before I knew it, in 2020, we had cohort 1, consisting of 17 amazing mentees and 11 mentors.

In 2021 we re-ran it. We kept the mentorship programme and, instead of the educational grants, I partnered with One Medical Group to award a £10,000 Health and Care Inequality Grant.


In 2022, we will be rerunning the programme with amazing support from my friend Monique Carayol and her 'Bravery in the Boardroom' initiative.


To date, our mentorship programme has supported 28 people from ethnically diverse backgrounds from the field of health and care.


"You talk about making every contact count ... but all your images presented only show people who are white. Even the cartoon images are white."

22 Mentors have given their time to help me in my mission to help support our future leaders in Healthcare.


I have given £17,000 in educational and health care inequality grants. One Medical Group kindly partnered with us and donated a further £5k.


I think this is a really good example of not overthinking something and working out what resources, platforms and connections you have and going for it. It doesn’t have to be perfect. You simply have to try.


On a lesser scale but equally as important, I recently attended an international conference dedicated to Integrated Care in Denmark. After attending multiple presentations where the images only showed white people, I bravely raised my hand. I stated: "You talk about making every contact count and the desire to meet the needs of your population, but all your images presented only show people who are white. Even the cartoon images are white. This might be something to think about when designing services moving forward."


"[We can] create movements or gentle ripples that, one by one, can slowly evoke change."

In the past, I would have never said this so publicly, but I have realised that if I am there, I should speak up.


This is a small act of activism. It was nerve-wracking, but I felt compelled to do it. After the session, people came up to me and thanked me. Who knows if they will take my comments on board but I spoke up, and that was the main thing in that moment.


I used to associate activism with protests, being loud and pushy, but I have since learnt this is not true. In our own way, we can share what is important to us and create movements or gentle ripples that, one by one, can slowly evoke change.


Tara Humphrey

Founder of THC Primary Care

Twitter: @THCPrimarycare / Instagram: tarahumphreyy


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Genevieve Shaw, Founder and Editor-in-chief

g.shaw@womeninthenhs.co.uk

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