We work hard, let’s play harder… in sports! This is the unsaid thought of everyone who participated in the recently concluded and highly successful Filipino Sports Fest.
It was organised by the Association of Filipino Nurses in Suffolk, whose members are Filipino healthcare workers who are mainly East Suffolk and North Essex NHS Foundation Trust staff.
“Loneliness and feelings of isolation can have a dramatic negative effect on newly arrived nurses’ health and wellbeing”
The event was organised through their Black, Asian and minority ethnic staff network, EMBRACE, whose members are largely Filipino nurses and their partners. It took place for two days, from 23 to 24 July 2022.
This annual sports fest started during the pandemic and was religiously attended by the nurses in Suffolk most weekends, as their way of keeping motivated and to support each other during the pandemic.
The championship at the end was extra special this year as, for the first time, it was attended by the chief nursing officer for England, Dame Ruth May, and Professor Anton Emmanuel, head of the Workforce Race Equality Standard.
EMBRACE’s annual sports fest aims to improve the health and wellbeing needs of Filipino healthcare workers working at the trust and their families. The trust’s big and thriving community of healthcare workers mainly comprise nurses.
There are approximately 500 international nurses working at Ipswich and Colchester Hospital. Though geographically separated, the Filipino nurses in these two hospitals have built a strong community and bond through EMBRACE, where support is always readily available.
Loneliness and feelings of isolation can have a dramatic negative effect on newly arrived nurses’ health and wellbeing. But research suggests that high levels of social support can be linked to positive health outcomes.
An individual’s wellbeing is a many-sided construct consisting of a complex interaction of cultural, social, psychological, physical, economic and spiritual factors. In addition, EMBRACE believes that running sports fest events serves as an effective tool to address these constructs.
“We always aim to promote optimal health and wellbeing for our patients, and it is also fitting to do the same for ourselves”
The two-day sports event comprised four types of sports activities beloved by Filipinos: volleyball, badminton, table tennis and the main event, basketball. The first game was basketball with a ball toss led by none other than Dame Ruth, who has supported this event two years in a row.
Although all four sports events were exciting, the most exhilarating was the second day of the basketball game. Yes, there was some pushing, pulling and some tagging during the game, but the spirit of sportsmanship and camaraderie prevailed when the games concluded.
The event ended with awards to the eventual winners, including Rhyan Zambrano in table tennis, Christopher Almoite in badminton, Team JeffJanah in volleyball and Ipswich Alliance in basketball.
In addition to the four main sports activities, there were parlour games where the families and audience could participate and a raffle draw where attendees won the much-loved Filipino staple food sacks of rice.
As nurses, we play an essential role in health promotion. We always aim to promote optimal health and wellbeing for our patients, and it is also fitting to do the same for ourselves.
However, our optimal functioning, health and wellbeing are determined largely by the quality of our relationships with others.
So what initiative can promote both physical fitness while improving relationships with others? A sports festival just like the Filipino sports fest!
Louie Horne is senior matron and chair of EMBRACE, East Suffolk and North Essex NHS Foundation Trust