Patrick Vernon, CEO of The Afiya Trust and Hackney Councillor in Queensbridge, is to be awarded an OBE for his commitment to working to combat health inequalities for black and minority ethnic communities.
Mr Vernon plans to dedicate his OBE to his parents, Norris and Avis Vernon, who were part of the Windrush generation. His announcement follows the statement of his inclusion on the Queen’s Birthday Honours List.
Patrick Vernon said: “I am dedicating this honour to my parents who were part of the Windrush Generation, they made a lot of personal sacrifices in coming to Britain and raising my four sisters and I. It is also great to receive this award which also coincides with the 50th anniversary of the Independence of Jamaica.”
For more than 20 years Mr Vernon’s career in health and social care has taken various paths, in particular it has been dedicated to campaigning to address health inequality for all minority groups.
Sola Afuape, Chair of The Afiya Trust, said: “It is with great pleasure we welcome the news of Patrick’s receipt of this honour. This is apt recognition of his tireless work advocating for the rights, health and well being of BME communities across the country. As CEO of The Afiya Trust he has been unstinting in pressing for major reforms to health and social care and challenging the barriers to equality of access and provision for all. As a close family at the Afiya Trust we would like to congratulate Patrick on receiving this honour and will support his continued efforts on behalf of BME communities.”
Mr Vernon was the former Non Executive Director for East London and the City Health Authority and Chair of City and Hackney Drugs Action Team. He has held various roles such as Regional Director for London and South East England for Mind, NHS Director of Brent Health Action Zone) and a Non Executive Director for City and East London Health Authority, Trustee for Social Action for Health.
Gloria Travers, Chair of the Chalkhill Community Centre in Brent, said: “There is no one more deserving to be awarded an OBE. I first met Patrick 10 years ago when he was Director of the Brent Health Action Zone and he saw something in my [healthy living centre] project that was worth pursuing. He was so much help to me in those early years and made me realise what I could achieve. Now we have the Chalkhill Community Centre. It would never have been built without him, which is why we were proud to name our main community hall after him.”
Cllr Sandra Samuels, Cabinet Member for Health and Well Being in Wolverhampton said: “This honour for Patrick is a long time coming. It is absolutely fantastic news. Patrick has worked tirelessly for The Afiya Trust and for communities across the country. The more Patricks we have in this world the better our communities will benefit from it. The work that The Afiya Trust is doing is benefiting communities up and down the country. Patrick’s knowledge base in health is fantastic and it translates from the work Afiya is doing in London to how these experiences can be beneficial to communities in places like Wolverhampton.”
In respect to the new changing structure of the NHS and the role of local government in leading on public health Mr Vernon says there is still a lot more to do to ensure equality is high on the agenda.
“The work of The Afiya Trust and other organisations will be important to make the business case on how equalities and health inequalities should be combined around service development and commissioning. I hope that I will be in the position to use my OBE to further advance these issues and promote my experiences as a leader to support others wishing to develop their career in the health and social care sector,” commented Mr Vernon.
The OBE is expected to be awarded to Mr Vernon by the Queen at Buckingham Palace in December.
In 2010 the Chalkhill Health Living Centre in Brent, a multimillion GP and community health centre near Wembley Stadium, named their main community hall ‘The Vernon Hall’ in recognition of his work with local residents.