AS the Covid-19 pandemic subsides, at least in the UK, the effects go on.

Suffering ranges from bereavement to loss of livelihood and liberty.

Some are struggling with the impact of long Covid while others’ mental health has taken a battering.

Now a film competition has been launched encouraging people to submit videos about their health struggles during the pandemic to help shape future care services.

The films created for the Equality Film Competition will highlight the diverse range of experiences people have faced during the past challenging year of Covid-19.

The purpose of the competition is to find a way to help people rebuild their lives.

Following the theme of “How do we help everyone heal?” people are encouraged to be as original, honest, direct and creative as possible, so the true inequalities within their communities can be captured and shared with the health providers.

Several filmmakers who submit their productions will have the chance to win up to £500 worth of prizes, such as spa days, bikes and laptops.

The competition has been set up by the Integrated Care System, which consists of NHS organisations, charities, councils and voluntary groups working together in partnership,

David Akinsanya, who is the equalities lead at the ICS, explains how important it is to record people’s experiences to improve healthcare.

“Having worked for 25 years in the TV and film industry, including stints at the BBC and Channel 4, I’m keen for a wide range of people from diverse backgrounds to submit stories about what they have been through.

“People of all backgrounds are invited to take part but in particular, we want to hear about experiences from ethnic minorities, LGBTQ+ communities, those with physical, sensory or learning disabilities, individuals living with mental health problems or obesity and people living in deprived or remote areas.

“As a creator and broadcaster for more than a quarter of a century, I know the power and impact that film has on us all. It’s an important medium for improving awareness and raising our understanding of people’s health care experiences over this time of Covid-19.

“Everyone’s story is different. What’s vital is we listen to people’s individual situations.



“The films will present a fantastic opportunity for health providers to hear some powerful personal testimonies from across the patch and understand the challenges they face.”

Despite his success as a filmmaker, Akinsanya has experienced a hard life himself. He was brought up in care and eventually found himself in trouble and then in prison for a short period of time.

However, after hitting rock bottom, he managed to turn his life around and has never looked back.

These experiences taught him how important it is to take care of your mental and physical health.

He now works tirelessly to help other people in the community learn from his lessons.

“As a middle aged black gay man, I’m a big believer in equality, and, of course, I tick a lot of those boxes myself when it comes to falling victim to inequalities.

“Personally, I know prostate cancer affects black men more aggressively when they are younger than other groups. The data’s out there to back it up.

“So, I recently visited my doctor and asked if he knew how I could get a test for prostate cancer because I was concerned about being in my mid-50s. But he told me not to worry about it until I’m in my late 50s or early 60s.

“I was surprised because he’s my doctor. I couldn’t really argue with him and say that I knew better, despite being aware of other black men younger than me who have suffered from it. I had to trust him.

“But that’s an example of what I would make my film about – the lack of awareness and knowledge about my biggest health concerns. I want people to tell any stories they have that don’t normally get listened to, so that we can use it to change the perceptions of decision-makers at the top to get things improved.”

Find out more about how you can enter the competition at