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Looking beyond the personal: CRN South London EDI Lead’s blog

In this blog, CRN South London’s Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) Lead Chifundo Stubbs reflects on how her EDI journey started as a personal one and how she learned to look beyond the personal.

My EDI journey was all about race and there not being enough ethnic minorities in research, both among researchers and participants. My view was somewhat narrow; gradually, I realised that there are so many other under-represented groups, such as people with disabilities and different sexualities. Over the past few years, I have been involved in groups highlighting the importance of diverse backgrounds being represented in research.

What stands out for me and why EDI is important for me personally is because a little while ago, I worked with a student who was deaf. This was my first time working with someone from the deaf community. It was a humbling experience and highlighted the need for me as a health professional to have the basic skills required to communicate with her.

Luckily, she could lip-read, but surely I should have a little bit of basic sign language, and I didn’t have that. And I was thinking to myself, if I cannot communicate with her, how would I communicate with a deaf participant? Of course, you can use an interpreter, but some stuff gets lost in translation.

Not only that, it made me realise that I’ve never come across a deaf participant before. That there is a whole community that’s being missed out in research altogether. That, for me, is what makes EDI important. We need to reach out to so many groups of people we don’t know about yet because we haven’t had a chance to encounter them.

I was lucky enough to have an interview with this student as the Public and Patient Engagement Lead for the NIHR/Wellcome Trust King’s Clinical Research Facility. She granted me an interview because it turns out, she is only the second-ever deaf student nurse at King’s College London, which doesn’t make sense to me at all. I learned a lot from my experience, but there is still a lot of work to be done.

Equality, Diversity and Inclusion is a massive area, there is a lot to be done, and we need to open our eyes so that we can include everybody. Working with that student made me feel like I had to do my little bit going forward to engage with the deaf community. I would love to share that knowledge with other people, as it was such an enlightening experience.

Having the opportunity to highlight groups of people that are under-represented and find ways of involving them in research is very gratifying.

Chifundo is a Clinical Research Nurse and the Public and Patient Involvement and Engagement Lead at the NIHR/Wellcome King's Clinical Research Facility. You can read more staff blogs on CRN South London’s website.


The views and opinions expressed in this blog are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect those of the NIHR or the Department of Health and Social Care.