Black Asian Minority Ethnic (BAME) Staff Network – Richard’s story


My story…Richard Holder

Who am I?

Richard Holder | South West Yorkshire Partnership NHS Foundation Trust

I am a service manager for Calderdale and North Kirklees IAPT, based at Folly Hall Mills in Huddersfield. I joined South West Yorkshire Partnership NHS Foundation Trust in 2006 and have been part of the Trust for 12 years in primary mental health care.

I was born in Nottingham to a mixed heritage family with Barbadian, Cuban, Indian and Irish descent. I grew up severely dyslexic, leaving school struggling to read and write, with teachers saying I was intelligent but lazy in my studies. I taught myself to read and write through poetry and books. It was only in my twenties that I was diagnosed with dyslexia, finally getting the support to aid my learning.

From the age of 18, I knew I wanted to be a psychotherapist, I was often told by teachers, friends and family that I should work with people because I had a vocational nature. My early career was spent working in retail in service leadership and training. I experienced challenges in the form of racial abuse from staff and costumers but was supported by other BAME staff who acted as unofficial networks of support.

Although I knew what I wanted to do, it took me a while to work out how to get there. Whilst at University, I applied and won an award and bursary from the Kennedy Foundation which helped me to enrol at Leeds University to study counselling and psychology. It was at that time that I lost both my parents, which had a significant impact on my outlook on life.

After graduating as a mental health worker, I spent two years at South Kirklees Primary Care Trust before joining South West Yorkshire Partnership NHS Foundation Trust. I worked in psychological services and was very fortunate to have a manager, Richard Kerry, who gave me the opportunities to develop my clinical aspirations with the support of my clinical supervisor Avril O’Grady. I went on to complete several courses including a specialist course in advanced CBT and leadership, after which I joined the IAPT team in Kirklees, 10 years ago. As part of my career development, I attended various courses in leadership, clinical leadership and general management, whilst gaining more responsibilities and opportunities in the IAPT service. I received a lot of support from Nicola Hartshorne, clinical lead service manager, who encouraged my development and advised me on how to progress into my position of leadership.

When did I join?

Being part of the Trust for a long time, I have always held a strong interest in the network due to my association with the inclusion team. My family have always told me to embrace my ethnicity and my identity, which is why I based my dissertation at University on mental health and ethnic minorities. I follow the network activities regularly and try hard to attend events, with the BAME network also playing an important role in my personal life with my family. My partner and I feel that live experience is very important in contributing to the development of BAME staff. We have been able to share learning from our respective organisations and discuss the challenges staff from BAME backgrounds face. I was recently invited to an O2 inclusive employer event which was attended by a large number of public and private employers. It was very inspiring to see the work being done across a variety of sectors. I have been in a fortunate position to gain insight into the setup of our Trust network, as well as the O2 BAME staff network, which is an open network that invites all to join with the aim to educate and communicate on BAME related challenges.

How did it help?

The BAME network has allowed me to connect with other members of the Trust who have faced similar challenges from being of an ethnic minority. I have the perfect chance to learn, support and work with others to ask the right questions and form opportunities for development. Afsana Aslam, the BAME staff network chair, has been really supportive of my contribution and guided me along the way, supercharging my passion to make a difference to others. By being part of the network I have found out more about the training and courses available from the NHS leadership academy which has further helped my development.

I encourage others to get involved with the BAME staff network. It is an ideal opportunity for members to go in with fresh ideas, positive thinking and use as a learning tool to network with colleagues and create positive solutions for any challenges that arise.

If you work for the Trust and would like to find out more information about the BAME staff network or interested in becoming a member, contact

Black Asian Minority Ethnic (BAME) Staff Network – Richard’s story

time to read: 3 min