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RCN Foundation partners with Michelle Cox to launch annual anti-racism grant

The Michelle Cox RCN Foundation Anti-Racism Award is a partnership between the RCN Foundation and Michelle Cox.


Michelle is a Black nurse from Liverpool who was employed by NHSE&I Commissioning as a Continuing Healthcare Manager, based in Manchester from May 2017. Michelle, who has been a registered nurse of 25 years, made the decision to blow the whistle on poor practice in her service across the North of England, submitting a grievance which included discrimination by her manager.

Dissatisfied with the way her complaints of racism were handled, and certain she had been mistreated for whistleblowing, Michelle took her employer to industrial tribunal and won a landmark racial discrimination case. She was represented by the Royal College of Nursing.

Creating something positive

Determined to create a positive legacy from the devastating impact that the legal battle had on her, Michelle worked with the RCN Foundation to create an award that aims to support nursing and midwifery staff to tackle anti-racism.

The annual grant will support a nurse or midwifery-led project which aims to oppose racism and promote racial equality within nursing and midwifery.

Funded projects will aim to transform unequal workplace relations that negatively impact individuals from the global majority. Projects will aim to build anti-racist workplaces and could include the development of webinars and virtual learning packages, global majority development programmes, reverse mentoring programmes and advocacy programmes.

Words of advice  

Michelle said: “It was imperative that the application criteria is inclusive - so whether you are a single-handed practitioner or part of a wider team or network the criteria has that flexibility. Nothing is out of the realm – be creative and imagine a world without discrimination.   

Developing a culture of anti-racism improves race equality and promotes an environment of psychological safety. Those who have experienced race discrimination, or in fact discrimination in all its guises will understand the importance of feeling safe. Ultimately, all anti-discrimination work will not only benefit our workforce but patients too.”

Deepa Korea, RCN Foundation Director said: “Michelle Cox's commitment to promoting inclusivity stands as a testament to the importance of addressing discrimination in nursing and midwifery. Her unwavering commitment to change echoes through this award, offering hope and inspiration to those who oppose racism and promote racial equality within nursing and midwifery. We are proud to work alongside Michelle to support projects that lead to long-lasting and positive change.”

Applying for the award

To apply for The Michelle Cox RCN Foundation Anti-Racism Award, click here.

The grant is open to registered nurses and midwives from across the UK that are RCN members.

Grants of £2,500 will be awarded annually through a competitive process.

Applications are open from 2 October - 6 November 2023.