• Sunday, November 27, 2022

HEADLINE STORY

NHS body launches internal review trust after staff members get ‘hurtful’ Diwali email

By: Shubham Ghosh

A row has broken out over a Diwali message that was sent on the morning of the festival on October 24 to the employees of Manchester University NHS Foundation Trust (MFT) and the trust has launched an internal review of the matter.

The controversial email, which made reference to the “insidious growth of Hindu right wing nationalist ideology”, was sent from ‘EmbRACE Manchester’ to the MFT staff members. However, while the message faced a backlash with many condemning the content, the Manchester Evening News cited a spokesperson of MFT saying that the controversial mail was written by a Hindu staff member.

Titled ‘Happy Diwali’, the message read, “We would like to wish a very Happy Diwali to all who are celebrating today.” It then said, “It’s particularly important to pause and reflect on recent events and how we bring back peace and harmony to our communities.”

 

 

“Worsening political and religious polarisation in India has unfortunately seeped into diaspora communities across the world. Muslims and Hindus have lived together harmoniously in East Leicester and Birmingham for decades, however unease among residents has been growing in recent months culminating in violent clashes in September fuelled by social media misinformation,” it further added.

“The history behind the tensions is long and complex, however the emergence and insidious growth of Hindu right wing nationalist ideology in India (spreading to UK/USA) should not be ignored. The vast majority of Hindus do not share these xenophobic views and we must not hesitate to stand up and unite with our Muslim neighbours and colleagues at this worrying time.

“Both Muslim and Hindu communities face the harms of overt and structural racism. Violent divisions between these communities feed racist narratives, and divided communities are less able to effectively advocate for anti-racism.

“Let’s find a way of stamping out these dangerous voices, healing the rift and bringing back harmony to our communities.”

The email concluded by saying, “May this Diwali bring universal compassion, the inner joy of peace and love, and the awareness of oneness to all”.

The message offended an anonymous Hindu member of the staff and the individual contacted the Manchester Evening News and called the message “hurtful”. Others also voiced their anger on Twitter by targeting the MFT account.

One user posted, “I am absolutely outraged and disgusted by the message sent by the Embrace team.

“As a very senior colleague I am saddened by the failure of a service under your leadership to meet the level of standards expected. This matter will be escalated to the appropriate channels.”

EmbRACE recalled the email and apologised after the backlash. In a fresh email sent around 15 hours after the controversial one, an EmbRACE spokesman wrote, “It has come to our attention that this email has caused offence amongst several of our colleagues.

“Although that was absolutely not our intention, we acknowledge and accept the impact this email has had. We are devastated that we may have upset our colleagues on an auspicious day of celebration. Please accept our sincere apologies.”

MFT called the content of the initial email as ‘inappropriate’ and apologised on Twitter. It also distanced itself from EmbRACE’s communications team and said an internal review had been launched.

“We have been made aware of an email distributed to some members of our staff, by EmbRACE, titled ‘Happy Diwali’, and understand it has caused upset amongst some staff by inappropriately referencing religious tension in the wider environment. We would like to make clear that EmbRACE is a grass roots collaboration of staff which operates entirely separately from official MFT communication channels,” it tweeted.

“The Trust certainly does not approve of the inappropriate contents of this week’s Diwali message and has launched an internal review. In this context we wish to stress that this particular EmbRACE email was in no way issued with the endorsement of MFT.”

It added, “Finally we wish to stress that MFT continuously strives to be an inclusive employer and celebrates all faiths and religions in a positive way. We work closely with our staff to recognise key festivals and encourage staff to highlight and promote any such celebrations that may be important to them.

“Please be assured that the Trust has taken this matter very seriously and been swift to act. Once again we apologise for the upset this incident has caused some colleagues.”

“EmbRACE is a grassroots collaboration including several of our staff, along with healthcare staff from outside of our organisation,” the trust spokesperson said, adding, “They operate entirely separately from official MFT communication channels. The message which they circulated last week raised concerns with a number of Trust staff, so we immediately contacted EmbRACE.

“The message was recalled and they sent an apology. One of the authors of the EmbRACE communication is themselves Hindu, and the group are extremely upset about the distress which has been caused. We will be having an internal review and we are continuing to provide both support and the offer of discussions to our staff who have expressed their concerns,” the spokesperson said.

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