Sharing visions

27 November 2020

The word on my mind this week is collaboration. This week was electric, I started it by giving  a talk on the role of cross cultural communication in healthcare to a group a of Paediatricians in the North West of England who have formed a group called ‘A dialogue on race’. The way we found each other demonstrates the power of collaboration and the strength of building networks inside and outside of your profession.

Early this year I started a project to look at supporting Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic nurses who want to become genetic counsellors. It meant that I was exposed to professionals from the fire service, the police service, Manchester city council and health organisations across Greater Manchester. Meeting people with aligned aims who I could learn from and share with helped my confidence and my expertise grow. 11 months later I am embedded in networks in my NHS trust for Black, Asian and minority ethnic staff and in those for health equity in Manchester. This exposure is what led to the invitation to speak with a passionate, organised and motivated group of paediatricians on a chilly Monday evening over zoom.

I ended the week with a talk to genetic counsellors in the North West of England on institutional accountability. I can feel the fledgling spirit of transformation taking hold across my NHS trust, my profession and in healthcare. All because we have been open to working with each other sharing ideas and good practice.


You can learn more about A Dialogue on Race here:



What is your personal view about why there is a disproportionate risk of Covid-19 in the Black, Asian and minority ethnic populations in the UK?

Health inequalities are very complex and can have serious consequnces on the health and wellbeing of populations. Although there are genetic factors that are being researched around how people are affected by Covid-19 this information needa to be considered with the complex interaction with underlying structures.​​ Enviromental and social factors like housing, occupation, diet and underlying health conditions are often major determinants of our health outcomes and we need to explore more how they are distributed and why. This is why at Genetics Engage we are so passionate about improving the experience of health services like genetics for everyone.


Advice for children

What advice do you give to a child who wants to be a genetic counsellor?

Be curious about science and health. Study things you enjoy so that you find it easier to work hard at them. Genetic counsellors use knowledge of genetics and caring for people to do their jobs. You can get experience of these things through education, volunteering and socialising with different people.


Who are you?

We are two Black women, Sasha and Mavis, who have come together over our love of laughter and our ambition to set the world straight! See more on our Home page.


Why this initiative?

There is a lot of talk about diversity in health and genomics, we wanted to explore more about what it really means to be diverse and inclusive.

Black women in genetics Events

Celebrating Black History Month

Black women in Genetics

Our first event took place this year, on the last day of Black History Month, 31st October 2020. We started with a reflection and conversation about what it meant to be a Black woman Genetic Counsellor. Over 50 people attended this first event to hear Malebo Malope and Sasha Henriques respond to questions from Mavis Machirori on many issues around diversity, inclusion and the concerns around genetic counseling.

Genetics Engage: Sasha and Mavis talk to Malebo Malope about genetic counselling and the experiences of Black women who do the job, October 2020
Black women in genetic counselling – FULL AUDIO of the talk on genetic counselling and Black women who do the job, October 2020