The exhibition celebrating the East and South East Asian migrants who contributed to the NHS

Vintage pictures are featured alongside new images, videos, articles, and spoken and written interviews in the immersive and interactive exhibition, encouraging visitors to learn about the experiences, the history and the reality of what it means to leave home in order to live and contribute in a place far from that home, creating a new space for yourself and your future generations. In keeping with the personal and intimate nature of the subject matter, each person’s story is researched and compiled by their children and grandchildren.
The stories tell of the significant yet often overlooked contribution of ESEA migrants to the health service. These stories include those such as Connie Bennet’s who left Manilla in 1970 to train at the Westminster School of Nursing. “An English lady boarded the bus and told us to shut up and go back to our own country,” her statement reads. “Instances like this were common, so I would often feel isolated, however I must say that there was a lot of unity at the hospital itself.” Bennet claims that she and the nurses at her hospital created a community of Asian and South East Asian nurses who became a “network of extended family”, as they shared the experiences of the tumultuous journey of settling into life in the UK whilst working for the NHS.
Britain’s East and South East Asian Network is a grassroots movement founded by six ESEA women that raises awareness about the UK’s ESEA community and the challenges it faces. The exhibition opened on 29 September and will run with free admission until 10 October at ​​The Willow Tree Space in Walthamstow.

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