“I am reminded of my own journey to embrace my difference and own it” – celebrating South Asian Heritage Month


South Asian Heritage Month runs from 18 July to 17 August each year to commemorate, mark and celebrate South Asian cultures, histories, and communities.

The month seeks to understand the diverse heritage and cultures that continue to link the UK with South Asia.

Nasheen Oya, lead serious incident investigator, shares her reflections to mark the month.

This South Asian Heritage Month, I wanted to take the opportunity to really reflect on the last twelve months, as part of the NHS and as I have grown into my new career.

Photo of woman smiling

Shortly after starting with the Trust in April last year, I was asked to take part in a podcast to celebrate South Asian Heritage Month. I opened up about my children, and my mum, and how they have influenced me in my journey. The podcast was such a positive and eye-opening experience for me and the feedback made me feel so welcomed into the #allofusinmind way at our Trust!

So, what are my thoughts a year down the line?

Well firstly, we have a long way to go, but the drive and genuine buy in from our senior leaders to support the equality and inclusion agenda is something I haven’t really experienced before.

In my role as lead serious incident investigator, I see how many of our team are exposed to hate and incidents of racist abuse. It is never OK. We had great input in January about the impact of racial trauma and providing safe debrief spaces and I think this is something we should really build on. Our Trust is striving to build on positive foundations around equality and as part of the race equality and cultural heritage (REaCH) steering group (and as temporary co-chair) I am really keen to support this work. As a new member of the Race Forward group, I can really feel the passion and voice of our Trust and how those with lived experience are influencing and driving change.

As a mum, I have watched my little boy really embrace his mixed heritage. At aged 6 he is now really keen to talk about why we celebrate Eid, why mummy has different skin to daddy, has begun to be curious about Spain and Ireland, and is listening intently to his great grandmother speaking Pashtu.

My daughter, now two, is listening to the different languages around her with a keen ear, and loves to dress up in anything sparkly, so traditional Asian clothes on Eid are really there for the win.

We should all be proud of our heritage and journey but that doesn’t necessarily come hand in hand with ease, especially when sometimes it can be easier growing up to acquiesce or shy away from anything that might make us seem different. So, this South Asian Heritage Month, I am reminded of my own journey to embrace my difference and own it.

I’m proud as punch that my son wanted to take pakoras in his packed lunch to school, and when he did, he was proud to talk about having “Pakistan food” with his friends. As someone who grew up in a small town in the 90s, when perhaps the world wasn’t as open minded, I would have really struggled to do this with the pride he showed.

I’d encourage you all to be more 6.

You can listen to Nasheen’s podcast episode from last year’s South Asian Heritage Month on our website.

“I am reminded of my own journey to embrace my difference and own it” – celebrating South Asian Heritage Month

time to read: 2 min