Ajvir Kumary 1974-2021

A tribute from Sarah Hosken.

Ajvir (Aj) Kumary applied immense passion and joie de vivre to her life both professionally and personally, leaving an enduring legacy of knowledge, skills and wisdom. 

After training as a Counselling Psychologist and Chartered Psychologist over 21 years ago, her career began as a Black Minority Service Development Officer developing and managing a culturally sensitive One Stop mental health service at the Family Housing Association where she honed her psychological skills. Her keen interest in research resulted in publication in the Counselling Psychology Quarterly journal. Aj was then employed at the North East London Foundation Trust from 2008 until 2021 working in the Community Mental Health Team; Inpatient & Home Treatment Team; Dental & Oral Trauma Psychology and as a BAME Psychologist taking on supervisory, recruitment and leadership roles involved in service development and developing care pathways, policies, practices and procedures at a strategic level. From 2021 until her passing, she worked at Guys & St Thomas NHS Foundation Trust as Lead Practitioner Psychologist for Staff Wellbeing, providing a space for staff to reflect and obtain crisis support where necessary, applying her expertise in working with complex trauma to provide valuable service to those in need. 

As a specialist trauma psychologist, Aj engaged with clients who were in crisis and often marginalised, both in her private and NHS practices. Clients included refugees, victims of torture and asylum seekers presenting with a wide range of complex mental health issues such as PTSD, personality disorders, OCD, BPAD and substance abuse. Aj developed specific culturally targeted workshops that provided a space for reflection on clients’ developmental, cultural, and spiritual processes to fully understand their relationship with themselves and others, a space where the stigma of mental health was gently challenged, and care pathways identified. She was able to reach and engage with the most complex of clients, always a smile on her face and right by their side all the way.

When not working for the NHS Trust, Aj undertook voluntary and private work; she volunteered at an orphanage in India, was a senior lecturer on the UEL/ELFT certificate in Cultural, Spiritual and Religious Care as well as working on trainings for Brainspotting UK and teaching Stress Management workshops to workers in the City of London.

Countless colleagues and clients will testify to her unwavering dedication and desire to find a positive way forward through her skills of empathic interpretation and communication. She was single minded, determined and not afraid to ‘rock the boat’ and to challenge accepted norms if she felt there was a better way of doing something to help her client. 

Aj was spontaneous and gregarious, lighting up the room, bringing energy and enthusiasm to all her endeavours. People mattered to Aj, whatever her workload she unwaveringly dedicated considerable time and energy to her family, friends and colleagues, always turning up with gifts under her arm, a smile on her face and a story to share. 

She approached her illness with the same fortitude that she applied to all of her life, and continued working with clients and participating in training sessions until shortly before her passing. Throughout she was a dedicated and devoted mother to Josh and indulged in pastimes such as spirituality, nature, yoga, dancing, swimming, tai chi and was a superb chef, for whom a dash of chili to her food and life was de rigueur!

Aj will be dearly missed by all those who knew her both professionally and personally. 

Sarah Hosken

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