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Chief Executive

Reflections on 2021

17 December 2021 | by Chief Executive

BPS chief executive Sarb Bajwa blogs on our achievements during a challenging year and looks ahead to 2022.

Firstly, I want to give my thanks and best wishes to our members who are working in the NHS and in other services and continuing to help people at a time when we are sadly once again seeing rapidly increasing Covid cases across the country.

The Omicron variant is the latest significant threat that this virus has posed us, and the next few weeks could well be extremely difficult. I hope that you and your families are able to stay well and enjoy the festive period as much as possible under the circumstances.

As some of you may know, I have recently returned to my role at the BPS after an inquiry into some of our working practices and processes. The changes recommended by this have been fully implemented, and I am delighted to be back.

It’s been a fairly turbulent time for the organisation, and I know that seeing members of the presidential team and other trustees move on may have been concerning for our members. I want to reassure you that the Board of Trustees is pulling in the same direction and excited to push on with our transformation programme.

This has been a defining year for the programme with the launch of our new database, which is the building block that many of our other developments depend upon. This is now up and running and, a few teething problems aside, we’re very happy with how it’s working.

That success means that we are now into the closing stages of the transformation programme, although making improvements to our processes, systems and the service that we offer to our members continues apace.

This year also saw the culmination of the work of the Presidential Taskforce on Diversity and Inclusion. I want to thank the chair, Dr Nasreen Fazal-Short, and all of the group’s members for their tireless commitment to this vital area of work.

As a direct result of their important work, we have taken the decision to create a new Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Board.

This will form next year, and we’re currently looking for a committed and visionary chair to lead on our EDI projects, and also serve as one of the society’s trustees. The whole Board of Trustees is fully committed to this work, and the new chair will receive our full support to achieve lasting change for the society. If this role could suit you, take a look at the full advert on our website.

We’ve made significant progress this year on three key projects that are going to transform what we can achieve as an organisation over the coming years. I am sure you have read lots about the reviews of our member grades, member networks and member conduct rules across our channels during recent months, and all are progressing well towards a conclusion.

In particular,  I believe that the proposed changes to our grades will be a huge positive for the BPS, for psychology and, crucially, for those in society who require psychological support. Please do vote for them when the ballot opens in January next year.

On the membership side, we now have the largest number of members that the society has ever had. This is a testament to your ongoing support for our psychological community, and everyone at the BPS is incredibly grateful to every single one of our members for continuing to support us and renew their membership despite the increasing cost of living and general uncertainty that we are all living through.

We’ve made a conscious effort to attract more psychology students as members thanks to our initiative to offer free membership to first-year undergraduates in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. If you joined us through this route, I hope that your time with the BPS will be a long and fruitful one.

I see 2021 as a year when our members, our volunteers and our staff were able to pull together and achieve so much despite the challenges we have faced. Whatever your contribution – whether you sit on a committee, attended one of our online events, or simply renewed your membership – we wouldn’t have been able to do it without you.

We are, of course, hopeful of more clarity on the Covid situation next year, but this year has taught us that we never know what new challenge it might throw up. Crucially, it’s also showed that we are able to meet them.


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