South Asian Heritage Month gets underway

28 Jul 2023
NHS South East London

NHS South East London Integrated Care Board and our local partners hope all our residents and staff of South Asian heritage have a chance to mark the month.

The fourth South Asian Heritage Month started on Tuesday 18 July, the date in 1947 that King George VI signed the Indian Independence Act. It runs through to 17 August – the day in 1947 that the British Government published the Radcliffe Line, the mechanism that sets out today’s borders between India, Pakistan and East Pakistan (now Bangladesh).

The term ‘South Asian’ covers eight modern-day countries: Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, the Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka.

The heritage month commemorates and celebrates South Asian cultures, histories and communities – and how they continue to link the UK with South Asia.

South Asian culture has made a significant impact on Britain – not least through work in the NHS and wider contributions to society and culture through music, writing, art, cuisine and business.

Bexley Wellbeing Partnership (BWP) and Healthier Greenwich Partnership (HGP) are marking the month with a South Asian Health and Wellbeing Fair on Thursday 17 August. It will run from 11am to 4pm. As well as celebrating South Asian culture,  residents can learn about support services across both boroughs.

Residents will have the chance to speak to GPs, other health professionals and partner organisations and ask questions about their own health and wellbeing. GPs and faith leaders will also take part in a panel discussion about how the NHS and its partners can better meet the needs of South Asian residents living across Bexley and Greenwich.

There will be entertainment and activities throughout the day. It takes place at The Nest community centre and library in Cygnet Square.

Here in south east London, people of Asian (rather than just South Asian) heritage make up between 7-8% of the population in Bromley, Lambeth, Lewisham and Southwark, 11% in Bexley and 21% in Greenwich.

Dr Sid Deshmukh, a GP and clinical lead in Bexley, who was born and educated in Mumbai, arrived in the UK in 1996 to study and work as a gynaecologist. As he explains in this intriguing short interview with NHS colleagues, a keen drummer, he was won over to general practice after joining a band made up entirely of GPs.

Drawing on his 20 years’ experience as a Sidcup GP and chair of the Bexley local care partnership, Dr Deshmukh thinks we can work across south east London to reach communities that are adversely affected by health inequalities.

“We must get better at reaching out to these communities and building relations, targeting the right people with the right messaging, and using community leaders to help raise awareness around different health issues.”

The theme for SAHM 2023 is ‘Stories to Tell’ – and organisers have included ‘health’ in the long list of things that people might want to share on their website, and with us. And you can tell your story in any format you like. So it’s a chance to get creative with a paintbrush, music, film, dance or even food. And if it’s a story or idea that in some way involves being in good health, so much the better.