Posted on: 8 September 2022

On Tuesday 6 September, over 300 staff from CNWL’s Talking Therapies (IAPT) service came together for their annual conference.

Taking place at the Royal College of Surgeons, this year’s conference focused on reaching our communities and tapping into their strengths, and how our teams can learn from them.

With a mix of speakers, workshops, group discussions and presentations the day was also about building connections with IAPT teams from across the Trust.

Watch the video message from CNWL’s Chief Executive Claire Murdoch, saying how thankful she is to the Talking Therapies teams for all their hard work.

Opening the conference, Chief Psychologist, Christopher Whiteley said:

“It’s not always the case for other psychological therapy professions, but the workforce in IAPT services is so diverse. I’m proud that we can say that. It makes a difference to the ideas and creativity we have as well as our engagement with service users. We have our energy, our values and our ideas – today is about how to bring that to our work and finding connections with people who would really benefit.”

Samuel Owiredu, Strategic and Performance Lead for IAPT took a look back at the impact of the service over the past year.

“Patient satisfaction is high and patients really appreciate the work you are doing. But there are more people out there. We need to improve our outreach work so people who really need the service can come forward and nobody is left out,” he said.

Iapt annual report.jpg

We heard from guest speaker, Dr Fouzia Siddique about an upcoming pilot called ‘grandmother benches’; a community collaboration which started in Zimbabwe, providing access to mental health care closer to home.

“We’re looking to trial this new idea in North Westminster, setting up grandmother benches on Church Street,” Dr Siddique said. “It’s a non-traditional approach to the way mental health services are provided, taking away the clinical component and giving mental health a human face.

“It’s about adapting the model so it resonates within the community and taps into their strengths and resources, which also helps to de-stigmatise mental health.”

iapt conference 1.jpg

There was a selection of presentations from Brent, Harrow and Westminster Talking Therapies, who talked about engagement and working within the community.

Sepideh Mhojat, Senior CBT Therapist from Brent IAPT said: 

“Brent is the most diverse borough in London, and it’s really important for us to understand, listen to our community and recognise they work in a different way. If we want people to use services we need to offer something tailored and specific to their needs. It’s not always the case that certain communities are hard to reach but we as a service are hard to reach.”

Ann Sheridan, Managing Director for CNWL’s Jameson Division finished off the event with a video message saying:

“For all of us the last two years have been really challenging and I want to thank you for all your commitment and hard work during this time. As we move forward I want you to look after yourself and your colleagues so we can continue to empower the communities serve.”