Always ensuring equality – Paul is our NHS Hero

Caring for staff and ensuring equal opportunities is at the forefront of the work of this week’s NHS Hero, Paul Singh (41), who is the Equality and Diversity Lead at Dudley and Walsall Mental Health Partnership Trust.

A qualified solicitor, Paul often worked with people on human rights cases and it was this, alongside some personal tragedies that paved his way into the role he does today.

“I have always had a real interest in equality and human rights,” explained Paul.

“I think it stems from my grandfather, who arrived in England speaking very little English, but became a really successful entrepreneur; running a small manufacturing business which supplied knitwear to the likes of Topshop and River Island. No matter how successful he was – he always made time to ensure his staff were treated fairly and I think this has really impacted on the way I like to care for staff at the Trust.”

Paul’s family have suffered two tragedies relating to mental health, and it was this personal experience which drove him to apply for his role.

“Two of my uncles committed suicide, which has been traumatic for the family and there is a real taboo about mental health issues in Asian culture, so when I saw this role come up 10 years ago – I thought it was my opportunity to try and make a difference, whilst also aligning perfectly with my legal background and enjoyment of working with people and being their champion.”

There is no typical day for Paul – he could be working with patients to ensure their diversity needs are being met, or he could be writing reports or advising the Board on equality matters – and it is this variety that makes his job so interesting.

“I really enjoy my job,” smiled Paul.

“I work with different people every day and there is always something new to do. The culture within the organisation is so friendly and supportive and I am driven by making a difference to both staff and our patients and service users.”

During his 10 years at the organisation, Paul has had many highlights, but he has a few that stand out.

“I have won a couple of awards from the NHS Leadership Academy for my commitment to equality and diversity, and I was also invited to be on ITV news and take part in their equality panel.

“I am also really proud of the work we have been doing to introduce three staff networks (LGBT, disability and BME) into the Trust – these support staff with their diverse needs and have been really encouraging so far.”

Outside of work, Paul enjoys time with his family.

“I have three girls, which keep me very busy – but I make sure I make time to read and walk our two-year-old German shepherd, Simba.

“I also enjoy annual trips to visit my family in Canada.”

So who is Paul’s hero?

“I have two heroes – my mum and my grandad.

“My mum raised me and my sister as a single parent and is a true soldier – I owe her everything. My grandad arrived in England with nothing and worked hard to be successful – but always keeping true to his values which I really admire.”

Paul’s mental health message: “It’s good to speak to someone – whether it’s friends, family or even a stranger – don’t bottle up your feelings.”