From the President, February 2021

Hazel McLaughlin on the launch of the Presidential Development Fund.

New year, new start – and 2020 has been a year like no other! This issue of The Psychologist highlights the barriers that can prevent people from entering our profession. It is perfect timing for the formal launch of the new Presidential Development Fund, and to reaffirm our continued partnership with international colleagues.

This year, more than ever, I am acutely aware of the value of psychology and the need for the BPS to enable positive change in people’s lives. In the last issue, I highlighted the importance of the poverty to flourishing campaign. At the time of writing, the UK has moved into a new national lockdown, and we are aware that 2020 has been a very challenging time.

Many psychologists have contributed to pandemic response and have volunteered their time and capabilities in support of others. Psychology adds value in many different settings, from universities to organisations, to education and in mental health. We have all been able to contribute in diverse but significant ways.

For me, it is important to inspire and encourage the next generation of psychologists and to recognise that the career paths are not always easy. Furthermore, my Presidential vision around ‘Building Psychological Capability’ has encouraged us to revisit the resources available to those for whom access may be a challenge.

Enabling professional development, mentoring and role models are important in this context. There is so much talent, energy, and enthusiasm within psychology especially in early career stages, and it is essential to actively enable that talent to flourish.

Join us to make the Presidential Development Fund a successful vehicle to build psychological capability and impact. To start, I have donated 100 per cent of the recompense that I received as your President for 2020-2021. The BPS has matched that donation, and the fund is now launched. We are asking you to get involved and, if you can, to donate.

Working together we can make it easier for aspiring psychologists, particularly those from disadvantaged backgrounds, to gain access to professional training and development, such as postgraduate programmes in psychology. This will enable us to be a more inclusive and diverse profession.  

Early in 2021, we are calling on aspiring psychologists to apply to access the fund and to take the next steps on their journey. The greater the donations, the more we can fund and enable new talent. See for more information about the fund and how to donate or apply as an aspiring psychologist.

To quote the Turkish writer, Mehmet Murat Ildan, ‘Via your talents you can go beyond the limits’. Let us make 2021 a year for positive change and work with us to inspire the psychology talent of the future.

Additionally, although the UK has now formally left the European Union, psychology remains an international profession, and we continue our strong links with our international partners. The UK is home to thousands of European psychologists, whose skill and expertise is crucial to the psychological workforce. We will continue to support them.

- Dr Hazel McLaughlin is President of the British Psychological Society. Contact her at [email protected]

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