Sir Lenny Henry has written an open letter to encourage Black Britons to take the COVID-19 vaccine, signed by some of the most high-profile names in the UK.

Lenny Henry
Sir Lenny Henry

Sir Lenny’s letter, supported by the NHS, has been turned into a powerful short film, directed by BAFTA Award winner Amma Asante, which features Lenny alongside Adrian Lester, David Harewood, Naomie Ackie, Rt Rev Rose Hudson Wilkin, Bishop of Dover and Bridgerton star Adjoa Andoh.

Television veteran Sir Lenny says he understands the concerns of many in the Black community but tells them he doesn’t want their concerns about the jab to leave them disproportionately impacted by the pandemic.

So far, more than 30 million people in the UK have now received their first COVID-19 vaccine dose, meaning over half of the UK’s adult population have been vaccinated and will soon develop strong protection from serious illness. However, an ONS survey taken from 13 January to 7 February shows that less than half (49%) of Black or Black British adults reported that they were likely to have the vaccine and NHS data shows that only 466,000 Black of Black British adults have had a first dose of the vaccine so far.

“I wrote this letter to Black Britain asking people not to get left behind, to not continue to be disproportionately impacted…”

On why he wanted to take action, Sir Lenny Henry said: “I felt it was important to do my bit and so I wrote this letter to Black Britain asking people not to get left behind, to not continue to be disproportionately impacted and to trust the facts from our doctors, professors and scientists, not just in the UK but across the world, including the Caribbean and Africa.

“I hear and understand the concerns which people of all backgrounds are wrestling with, but which are particularly concerning in Black communities. I want people to be safe, I don’t want people to die or end up in hospital because of COVID-19. So, I’m saying, when your turn comes, take the jab.”

Not filmed but lending their support by signing their name to Sir Lenny’s letter are some of the Black community’s biggest names, including 12 Years a Slave actor and Oscar nominee Chiwetel Ejiofor, author Malorie Blackman, actor Thandie Newton, football pundit Garth Crooks, performer George the Poet and musician KSI and radio personality Trevor Nelson.

The 3.50-minute short film was directed by director Amma Asante, who also shared why she got involved in the project. She said: “Creating something for the community I come from was important to me, particularly on a health issue that is as life and death as coronavirus.

“I wanted to make a film that acknowledges the concerns of Black people while sharpening the lens on why the vaccine is so important, and why we deserve to have our lives and the lives of our loved ones protected. I hope the film can contribute to making a difference.”

Watch the film


If you have received a letter inviting you for a jab, you can log on to the national booking service at www.nhs.uk/covid-vaccination or call 119 free of charge, anytime between 7am and 11pm seven days a week.

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