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RCOMH Steering Group Member - Jacqui Lovell

As a member of developing partners (dp), a social enterprise led and run by people with long term mental health needs, I work with people who experience multiple layers of stigma and discrimination and who are socially excluded, many of whom live in poverty. I love my job and the life I have chosen for myself.

I previously worked as a Registered General Nurse in General Medicine and with Older People and then undertook an Honours Degree in Psychology and began working as an Assistant Psychologist undertaking research into the experiences of parents who had a learning disability, who typically have a hard time when they engage with services as 50% have their children removed and taken into care, a little known fact that set me on a path towards working in empowered ways with a range of people who struggle to fit in a society that places the individual above the community and can be excluding and intolerant of difference.

I am committed to working in anti-oppressive ways and am glad that dp operates as a co-operative cos I struggle with power differentials, so for me equality works best. I love the diversity I get in working with people from diverse backgrounds, cultures, faiths, spiritualities, sexualities, ages and countries and I feel most at home when I am with people who have survived (or are attempting to survive) life’s experiences.

As a gay woman and a mother to a growing family I am aware of the ways in which people can be pushed out whether inadvertently or not the result is the same. I prefer to adopt a human rights approach in all that I do and to go out and meet with the most vulnerable people first because if we get things right for them then it follows that they will be somewhere near ok for the rest of us.

I admire Paulo Freire and his educational approaches and the work of Ignacio Martin Baro when he talked about the need to turn the whole of psychology on its head and to adopt a bottom up approach to what we do and for these reasons I am working using community and liberation psychology principles and practice. I am using both Freire and Martin Baro in my recently commenced PhD entitled “So what's changed? Using participatory methodology to evidence outcomes of importance to people facing multiple layers of social exclusion” and am using participatory video production as one way of evidencing the difference that our work at dp can have from the perspective of the people who we work with and thankfully who give their time and effort in working with us.

As a person in my own rite I bring with me my lived experiences of trauma and survival and the years I spent raising my own awareness in order to live a different life to the one that may have been mapped out for me.

I have retained my working class roots and am very down to earth in my approach to my work and life in general. I enjoy a frank and open discussion with people who have taken the time to form opinions of their own and hope to grow old disgracefully as all the people I admire seem to have done!

I bring all of the above to the Research Centre for Occupational Mental Health (RCOMH) and aim to share and disseminate what RCOMH does with the other people with whom I live and work in the North East of England and beyond. My email address is jacqui.lovell@developingpartners.org.uk