Real-life story: Anwar

Anwar is the lead psychologist in Hackney’s Integrated Learning Disabilities Service. After completing an undergraduate degree in psychology, he worked for a period of time in the banking sector before returning to a career in psychology.

How I got into the role

Having completed a psychology undergraduate I wasn’t really sure what I could do with my degree, and I went on to work in the banking sector under a graduate scheme. Soon after starting, I realised I didn’t experience any job satisfaction and I decided to return to ‘my roots’ where I took a job as a nursing assistant in an inpatient facility. I was really motivated by the inspiring work I saw taking place in the service and I decided to pursue a career in clinical psychology.   

On qualifying, I took the first job I was offered in a bid to start my career in psychology. However, I quickly came to see how working in a community learning disability service was compatible with my values and the kind of psychologist I aspired to be. Now I look back and think how lucky I was that I found the job.

I was struck by the passion and commitment of my colleagues and their dedication to improving the lives of the people within the service. I also admired the families, carers, and the staff who provided them with support. Most importantly, hearing the lived stories of people with learning disabilities and their families highlighted the challenges they faced, as well as the success they had achieved, and the role that clinical psychologists could play in their journeys.

Having been fortunate enough to progress within the service, I am now in a new service where I have taken on the responsibility as the lead psychologist. I really hope that my story invokes an interest in other psychologists to work in learning disability, as the work – although challenging – is extremely rewarding.

What I do

What is great about my role is how varied it is. One of my main responsibilities is leading the psychology team to ensure the provision of good quality psychological intervention is available to the local population and services. This allows for opportunities for innovation and development to meet the changing needs of the people we serve, taking into consideration research evidence, legislation, and policy guidance. While there are on-going opportunities to undertake direct and indirect clinical work, there are also lots of opportunities to think at wider system levels, helping to develop discipline and service pathways to help meet the needs of people with learning disabilities.

The best bits

For me, the best bit has to be the variety in what I am able to do. From direct clinical work to broader organisational development, including the opportunities to innovate and be creative in how we deliver psychological interventions, this variety makes the role challenging and exciting. The opportunities to work with other disciplines, service providers, and commissioners also allows opportunities to learn from each other and integrate our knowledge to focus on creating meaningful change in the lives of those we serve.