President's column

Graham Powell on conferences and the London office.
I am looking forward to seeing everyone in Cardiff from 30 March to 1 April, at the Annual Conference of the Society. It is the first of our new-style conferences, a shorter, more intensive event over two and a half days. It has more skills workshops (ethics, using the internet to collect psychological data, statistics and research information) and exceptional keynote speakers all delivering associated symposium sessions bringing together different approaches to psychology. There has been tighter reviewing of submissions across the discipline to raise standards still further, and there is an extended poster session with a later abstract deadline, to encourage freer communications. And let’s not forget that the venue for the conference is Cardiff City Hall, the centrepiece of one of the world’s finest civic centres. It is right in the centre of this waterfront city and the Cardiff Conference Bureau will be available at the conference to advise on tourism and accommodation in the city.
I am looking forward to seeing everyone in Cardiff from 30 March to 1 April, at the Annual Conference of the Society. It is the first of our new-style conferences, a shorter, more intensive event over two and a half days. It has more skills workshops (ethics, using the internet to collect psychological data, statistics and research information) and exceptional keynote speakers all delivering associated symposium sessions bringing together different approaches to psychology. There has been tighter reviewing of submissions across the discipline to raise standards still further, and there is an extended poster session with a later abstract deadline, to encourage freer communications. And let’s not forget that the venue for the conference is Cardiff City Hall, the centrepiece of one of the world’s finest civic centres. It is right in the centre of this waterfront city and the Cardiff Conference Bureau will be available at the conference to advise on tourism and accommodation in the city.

Over the last few months I have been able to attend several conferences: a time to meet colleagues, talk about psychology and, increasingly, to meet continuing professional development needs.

I was invited to attend the Psychological Society of Ireland’s annual conference, for the first time held north of the border, in Derry. The eminent politician Professor John Hume spoke to the conference dinner about the importance of decisions such as this to the peace process; in fact, he sang to the conference, a magical moment that I will not forget. Mixing business with pleasure, Tim Cornford and I met with the president of the PSI, Ronan Yore and their chief executive Adrienne Harrington. We discussed the mutual recognition of undergraduate degrees and of some professional qualifications, and we are making progress on this. It is important to support the PSI in its efforts to resist initiatives from their government that cut across the development of professional services, such as their proposal to treat anyone with just a psychology degree as competent to provide services to the public, and the move effectively not to recognise the need for specific educational psychology qualifications for educational psychologist posts. I had a great time and left the conference smiling – it must be all those Irish eyes.

Then to Scotland, to Perth for the annual conference of the Scottish Branch of the BPS. This again had a strong community and collegiate feel to it, a reminder of the tireless efforts of Branch organisers such as Rory O’Connor. Indeed, I was pleased to give Hugh Foot a reward for all his efforts over the years. In the after-dinner quiz,
I was part of a ‘couldn’t lose’ dream team which included the President, President Elect and Chief Executive. We lost by a mile; hope we know more about psychology than we do about trivia.

Still in Scotland, the Edinburgh Lectures were held in November, in front of an audience of 350 ; and, moving south, the London Lectures were held in December at Kensington Town Hall. Both are very popular events. In London I chaired the lectures myself and was proud to be a psychologist and a member of the BPS – a very professional event with fascinating lectures (see p.70) delivered to a full audience of 750 psychologists of tomorrow, fulfilling the Society’s primary objective of diffusing a knowledge of psychology pure and applied. The talks kept the audience glued to their seats while at the same time showing the power of psychological theory, and the penetrating questions revealed an audience very quick on the uptake.

Then to the annual conference of the Wessex and Wight Branch in Winchester, drawing in students and also offering at least one public lecture. The Branch has been active in wanting to take psychology to a wider audience, recognising the need to network with an even broader range of social, political and business organisations.

Finally, this month I will be attending the annual conference of the Bangladesh Clinical Psychology Association in Dhaka. We will be discussing various issues, including the Mental Health Act in Bangladesh and how to integrate clinical psychology services into existing and planned service delivery within the context of factors such as extremely limited resources, a small number of qualified psychologists for the population, and the sheer extent of mental health problems, often hidden, unrecognised or untreated. A mammoth task, and I hope we can extend a degree of support. I will be discussing with them ways that we can assist, and I hope to bring back some positive suggestions.

Nearer home, and still on the theme of conferences, the new London office in Tabernacle Street is being readied and its conference centre refurbished. I am also pleased to say that, having waited patiently for an upturn in the London market, we have sold John Street, and that as an investment it has provided an excellent return. We are channelling this back into membership services – in part by ensuring that the new property in Tabernacle Street has a good conference facility, is capable of supporting the efforts of an expanding Society, and is disability compliant.

See you in Cardiff.
Welwn ni chi yng Nghaerdydd.

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