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Grassroots Sickle Cell Activism

  • Free
  • Discussion
  • Speech-to-text
  • Hearing loop
An audience are seated in rows in a room watching something on a screen which is out of view.

What you’ll do

Join researcher Dr Grace Redhead for an exploration of the Sickle Cell Society archive, which documents decades of research, outreach and activism. 

In this recording Grace talks about how sickle cell anaemia has been dismissed by policymakers and health authorities as a “minority condition”, and the racist discrimination and neglect faced by people living with it. 

Find out how a coalition of Black British patients, families and healthcare professionals challenged the NHS, lobbied government, built health services, and developed caring practices that centre Black health. 

The talk is facilitated by activist Dame Elizabeth Anionwu, who is Emeritus Professor of Nursing at the University of West London. In 1979 Elizabeth became the UK’s first sickle cell nurse counsellor. 

A short film is also available, featuring a conversation between Grace and her colleague Alinta Sara, formerly a heritage project coordinator for the Sickle Cell Society, as they look at items in the society’s archive.



Need to know


We’ll be in the Forum. To get there, take the lift or stairs up to level 1 and then follow the signs through the ‘Being Human’ gallery.

Place not guaranteed

Booking a ticket for a free event does not guarantee you a place. You should aim to arrive 15 minutes before the event is scheduled to start to claim your place. If you do not arrive on time, your place may be given to someone on the waiting list.

Waiting list

If this event is fully booked, you may still be able to attend. We will operate a waiting list, which opens 30 minutes before this event starts. Arrive early, and we’ll give you a numbered ticket. If there are any unfilled places just before the start time, we will invite you to enter in order of ticket number.


Booking a ticket guarantees you entry to the online event. You will be given joining instructions in your confirmation email.


This event will be live-transcribed, which may be useful for people who are D/deaf, hard of hearing, deafened or neurodivergent. The captions will be displayed on a large screen in-venue. Ticketholders for the livestream will receive a link to view the captions in a separate window.

Hearing loop

There will be a hearing loop at this event.

For more information, please visit our Accessibility page. If you have any queries about accessibility, please email us at access@wellcomecollection.org or call 0 2 0. 7 6 1 1. 2 2 2 2

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About your contributors

Photograph of Grace Redhead

Grace Redhead


Dr Grace Redhead completed her PhD at University College London on ‘Histories of Sickle Cell Anaemia in Postcolonial Britain, 1948–1997’. She has worked with the Sickle Cell Society and, with her colleague Alinta Sara, co-produced ‘Our Journey, Our Story: History and Memory of Sickle Cell Anaemia in Britain, 1950–2000’, an exhibition hosted at the Black Cultural Archives in 2021. Today she is a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the Wellcome Centre for Cultures and Environments of Health at the University of Exeter.

Black and white photograph of Elizabeth Anionwu

Elizabeth Anionwu


Dame Elizabeth Anionwu is Emeritus Professor of Nursing at the University of West London. In 1979 she became the first UK sickle cell nurse counsellor, based in Brent, London.