Cumbria, Northumberland, Tyne and Wear NHS Foundation Trust (CNTW) has appointed six assistant psychologist posts to candidates from marginalised backgrounds in an effort to make clinical psychology more accessible.
Thanks to a successful funding bid, CNTW have welcomed the six new employees, all of whom may have otherwise faced barriers in applying for jobs.
The national funding from Health Education England allowed the Trust to offer fixed-term positions for six months in order to give people the opportunity to gain experience in clinical psychology and psychological professions.
Each will be joining a range of services across the Trust, including First Step in Cumbria, Northumberland Head Injuries Service, The Kolvin Service – Forensic Adolescent Services, Children, young people and Adult Learning Disabilities, Older People’s and Inpatient Services.
Principal Clinical Psychologist and Chair of the Widening Access Working Group, Dr Romana Farooq, was involved in the successful bid. She said: “There is growing evidence that individuals from marginalised communities are less likely to access clinical psychology as a career.
“We’re extremely proud to have been involved in such an initiative and excited to welcome our new employees in order to level the playing field in the profession and contribute to changing the face of clinical psychology.”
With input from the working group and the Trust’s BAME Staff Network, the positions were open to people who have been marginalised in some way, whether because of their race, their socio-economic status or their carer responsibilities. The Trust also wanted to focus on culturally diverse candidates after identifying a desire and need to diversify psychological professions in the Trust.
Dr Farooq added: “One of the key things that stood out amongst those successful was their passion to tackle and address inequalities and their values around justice and culturally sensitive service delivery.”
The candidates’ roles will also have an important part to play in increasing awareness and in ensuring that services are more representative of the communities CNTW serves.
Dr Farooq said: “It’s hugely important to have these roles to ensure we deliver clinical psychology that is not just equitable but also anti-racist.”
Dr Thwaites said: “We know from research that one of the factors that impacts on certain ethnic groups accessing and benefitting from therapy is that they don’t see people that look like them working in their local services and don’t have confidence that their needs will be met.
“First Step is committed to representing the population that it serves and improving access and outcomes for people that haven’t always received the right treatment delivered in a cultural sensitive way. We are pleased to be part of this scheme and be able make a small change to the future of the profession of clinical psychology.”
Yussra Hajaji, who is one of the successful candidates, said: “I felt extremely excited and fortunate when I got the call back, after a while of applying to positions, I was finally given a chance to be part of the clinical psychology field, which I am extremely passionate about.”
Fuad Usman said: “I am very grateful for this opportunity. I have already learned so much about mental health practice applied in the context of everyday life. I am also helping out with a research paper, hopefully to be published before the end of my position.”