How we got started: PSC Oxford
Where do we focus our efforts is often a question that new PSC groups ask. In this series of blogs, we attempt to provide some answers. Here PSC Oxford explain their thinking
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Psychologists for Social Change in Oxford started a little under a year ago. Much of its infancy was spent trying to find its identity, which was shaped by the shared values of branch attendees. With Oxford being in the midst of a homelessness crisis, we naturally wanted to start here as our initial focus. Our journey began by reaching out to local homeless shelters to offer support where we could. Some of our members have been attending events to link in with ongoing projects, such as the development of a women’s homelessness shelter in Oxford.
We decided also to focus on change through dissemination, publishing an article in The Oxford Mail. Our article emphasised the urgency of bolder and braver approaches to homelessness in Oxford, and the benefits of psychologically informed perspectives on the issue. More recently, we reached out to an innovative local charity ‘Greater Change’, which you can learn about here. With Greater Change, we brainstormed potential collaborations, such as investigating the factors which contribute to the stigmatisation of people who are homeless.
We aim to use psychological knowledge, galvanise psychologists and support others to campaign for a more equitable and psychologically healthier society
In our first blog post, we outlined our vision for a more equitable and psychologically healthier society. Here, we are going to talk about how PSC has been working towards this.
First of all, who are we? Psychologists for Social Change, PSC for ease, is a network of applied psychologists, researchers, citizens, academics, therapists and students, and anyone else who is interested in applying psychology to policy and campaigning for progressive social change.
The group formed in London in 2014, originally as ‘Psychologists Against Austerity’, after a meeting of like-minded community psychologists. We now have groups across the UK - in Northern Ireland, Wales, and northern England. In 2017, we changed the name to Psychologists for Social Change, so it could become the umbrella group from which we could run different campaigns, with Psychologists Against Austerity being the first. Psychologists Against Austerity is still a campaign in its own right and people use both names depending on what fits best. Although PSC initially came out of a meeting of community psychologists, not all of its members define themselves as community psychologists. However, the values of PSC very much align with community psychology – namely social justice, stewardship, and community.
You can read more about the development of the group from an article that some of us wrote for Critical and Radical Social Work: An International Journal which is available here
What would one look like? What needs to change? The PSC blog is a place to discuss issues and stumbling blocks on the road to creating a society that works for everyone
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A more equitable and psychologically healthier society. A society which is more socially just, more peaceful, and more ecologically attuned. A society that, at its heart, encompasses the beauty of the human spirit, enhancing the values of compassion, solidarity, interdependence, and cooperation. Such a society would lessen psychological distress and would bring better individual and collective well-being, including for people who are currently marginalised.
Sounds good, doesn’t it? But what would such a society look like in reality? Day to day? Would yours be the same as mine? How do we create one? What is it about the current system that needs changing? These are some of the questions that we are hoping to address on this blog, ideally with your help.
We have some ideas, but we want to discover what this vision means to other people and other groups, and the ways you think we can get there. We want to hear from people for whom the current system is not working, from people who have an idea for how to change it, from those who have made it happen, and from people who can argue for a different way of doing things from their personal or professional stand-point (whether they are a psychologist or not). We will also post blogs about PSC campaigns and about how we work as an organisation.
At PSC, we believe psychology, mental health and well-being services - and the discourse around them - has become too ‘individualised’ in UK society. We believe people are being offered medication and talking therapies in a way that can obscure and downplay social issues, such as being overwhelmed at work, being poor, living in insecure housing, experiencing racism, feeling chronically stressed, and bearing the brunt of political policies like austerity. We are not advocating that psychologists should abandon individual therapy, nor should our stance be read as tacit support for the continued cuts to services. We are simply trying to move beyond the over-emphasis on individual mental health treatment.
If this sounds inspiring, please get in touch by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or giving us a shout-out on Facebook or Twitter. Tell us what you’d like to see on here and, even better, if you would like to write it. We can send you some guidance we’ve put together for writers.
As PSC does not have access to funds, we cannot pay you for your blog. We hope that any subject you would want to write about for this space would also be relevant to you, so by publishing and promoting simultaneously, we can ‘signal-boost’ the message. We are happy to include links to campaigns or fundraising pages. We hope that you feel that this is a decent trade but please let us know if there is anything else we can do in exchange.
PSC is a network of people interested in applying psychology to generate social and political action. You don't have to be a member of PSC to contribute to the blog