President's column

Ray Miller writes.
How well do we know you? In 30 years membership has gone from just under 7000 to nearly 44,000. That is a considerable success. We are, by far, the leading professional organisation for psychologists in the UK with a huge diversity from teachers and researchers, through experts in business, education, sports and health, to a strong student base who will become the Society of tomorrow.
How well do we know you? In 30 years membership has gone from just under 7000 to nearly 44,000. That is a considerable success. We are, by far, the leading professional organisation for psychologists in the UK with a huge diversity from teachers and researchers, through experts in business, education, sports and health, to a strong student base who will become the Society of tomorrow.
You, the members, are one of the Society’s greatest assets and strengths. Many of you devote considerable time and energy to a wide range of activities: organising Branches, Divisions, Sections and Special Groups; participating in events or providing the expert input that produces position papers, statements and responses to public policy initiatives. I’m pleased that many of you e-mail me directly to alert me to specific issues. I try to answer promptly and ensure every enquiry is directed to the best source for information.
Subsystems, networks and publications allow us to communicate with you in turn; seeking your views and opinions and ensuring the Society develops in ways that reflect your needs, interests and concerns.
Our largest involvement has been the consultations over statutory regulation and the Foster review. It is encouraging to see how many of you have contributed your views and advice. We have received a large number of individual responses as well as from subsystems. The vast majority have been very positive in support of our approach. Many of the very helpful suggestions are being incorporated in our final response in a few days time. Thank you all. I’d also like to thank Mike Carpenter and Lisa Morrison-Coulthard for providing the main office task force support. They have done an excellent job, producing successive drafts of documentation to very tight deadlines.
But communication is a tricky business. No matter how much you do, you can always improve. So we’d like to know you better.
Of course we have the basic information you supply when you join or change your membership grade. But as the Society grows and develops we need to know more to ensure we are delivering the services you want and expect. Lisa Morrison-Coulthard undertook a survey in 2004 as part of her PhD, focusing on why people join and why they remain members. Among the recommendations already acted upon, we have significantly simplified the application process with documentation available online.
A small scale survey of The Psychologist readership was reported in the July 2006 edition. The results are informing a major redesign exercise to improve the publication. I noted that, in the past, the President’s column received low ratings for interest and usefulness. I’ve been doing my best to change that. Honest!
We want to build on these with a general survey of members during November. This will guide the innovations we hope to introduce to ensure that communications and services become more useful and more closely targeted to your specific requirements. It is being sent by e-mail but will also be available on the website. The more of you that respond, the better your Society will become.
You expressed your confidence in the Society in the recent vote on subscriptions. A substantial majority supported the increase. That means we are on a solid footing to carry forward our strategic plan targets for the next year. We remain one of the least expensive professional organisations and excellent value for money. Costs will continue to rise on the basis of inflation. What doesn’t! A majority of you also supported the notion of a more automatic system of index-linked increases. Unfortunately, as this requires a statute change, it needed a two-thirds majority and fell just 1 per cent short. With such a majority in favour, the Trustees are looking at how we can put forward a stronger proposal and return to the membership next year.
Talking of subscriptions, I’d like to draw your attention to the Society’s Welfare Fund. It was set up as an independent charity several years ago with the aim of helping psychologists in dire need of financial assistance. Over the years a large number have benefited, but the fund has always been small and the assistance very limited. In fact, the fund is almost embarrassingly small. When your subscription renewal for 2007 is due you will have an opportunity to make a voluntary donation to the fund at the same time. If every member were to give as little as 50p, we could raise more than £20,000. Yes, as little as that would make a real difference.
We want to know you better, but it doesn’t take a survey to know that psychologists are among the most socially aware of professionals. I hope you will give generously in support of your less fortunate colleagues.

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