As I write this the South East remains in the grip of very high infection rates and an ongoing lockdown, and health and care workers are dealing with enormous challenges in all parts of the healthcare system. Our hearts go out to those affected physically or emotionally by the pandemic, and to all health and care staff who are working under unprecedentedly challenging conditions. Psychological professionals remain critical workers in this struggle - playing a vital role in supporting health and care staff, offering psychological therapies to those impacted by COVID, and taking up roles in the new COVID rehabilitation teams. Now, as across the past year, psychological professionals have risen to the challenge, delivering remote therapies, establishing new services and supporting colleagues. I am mindful though that many are very fatigued now. The vaccination programme offers great hope, but day to day we are perhaps beginning to feel the long term impacts of the pandemic, without an end quite coming into clear view. At this time therefore I invite all psychological professionals to take steps to prioritise our own wellbeing as well as that of others. We will need strength and sticking power over coming months and years to respond to the psychological impact of the pandemic, which will be multi-layered and long lasting. If we are to be ready for this task we need to ensure we can sustain our work. Please do start a conversation in your teams and families, if you haven't already, about how to look after ourselves in the new ways that we are working, and in the face of the demands on our services and home lives.
I also have good news in the South East, that Dr Margo Ononaiye has been appointed as the Clinical Psychology Programme Director at the University of Southampton. This makes Margo the first Black woman to take up this role anywhere in the UK. This is cause for celebration and reflection! I know Margo from earlier in our careers when we worked together at Canterbury Christ Church University, and was delighted that she agreed for us to write a blog together about her career and what this achievement means for her and the profession of clinical psychology. Read our blog here.
At the PPN we are busy advising HEE SE on the allocation of resources to support psychological professions workforce projects currently. Trusts have bid for funds to support paid experience opportunities for disadvantaged psychology graduates, as well as leadership mentoring for Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic psychological professionals, and for family therapy training. We will be able to report on the outcomes of this very soon. We continue to work to extend the reach of the PPN across the whole South East region, and will be reconstituting our PPN Board to reflect this change. This will include appointing a Co-Chair of the PPN South East, to work alongside me to ensure full reach across Wessex and Thames Valley, as well as Kent, Surrey and Sussex.
Please stay in touch, and do use the PPN network as a means of sharing stories of how the psychological professions are creating hope and forward momentum, in line with our national Vision. We will be in contact soon with some more ideas about how to share news of work you are doing via the PPN, and how you can get involved in the PPN conference 2021! If you have a project that you want to blog about that shows how we are putting people first, helping our communities to thrive, making all health and care psychological, uniting and increasing diversity in the psychological professions and transforming and innovating, please contact us!
PPN SE, Chair