First in her family to go to university, Linda Shuttleworth fulfilled her dream of becoming an NHS clinical psychologist, while contributing to the growth of mental health services in Uganda.
BSc (Hons) in Psychology
|Year of graduation||
At the moment
Fortunate to be at home in Chester, UK, retired, active, with clinical psychologist husband Stewart. Our two sons in their 20s are elsewhere, taking off on their life and career choices, lovely to see them fly!
(We did both offer to return to work at the start of the Covid crisis, and were able to give some advice to local NHS hospital staff support managers about effective psychological support systems.)
Your time at the University
I was the first in my family to go to university. My love of science as a way of understanding the world around me had translated into a desire to study psychology as the science of human emotion, cognition and behaviour. From the outset, my hope was to train as a clinical psychologist.
Why Edinburgh? Love at first sight! What an opportunity, to live and study in such a cityscape. I was lucky to have a grant and a bit of parental support. I was quite studious and hard-working, but relished the widening horizons socially as well as academically. When it goes well, going to university can be quite a nurturing way of gradually leaving home and gaining independence. And with beer at 13p a pint, and a set menu Chinese or Indian meal for 50p, you could have a good weekend for £2 or so!
I absorbed and learned in lectures and tutorials and labs; it was all so new that only later did I realise that sometimes we’d been fed cutting-edge research and thinking by staff who were acknowledged experts in their field.
Your experiences since leaving the University
I graduated with a BSc in Psychology in 1976, and was fortunate to be accepted for Clinical Psychology training at Liverpool University, 1976-78. (It was just as competitive then; 250 applicants for five funded places.) After a short period of locum work in the NHS, I then worked for two years in western Kenya as a VSO volunteer science teacher in a rural girls’ school, a life-changing experience. Returning to pursue a lifelong career in NHS Clinical Psychology, I kept a keen interest in international development. In 2010, I got the NHS Trust I worked for interested in developing a mental health partnership with a small NGO hospital in western Uganda, and participated in the scoping visit that year.
It has been a privilege to be able to work and raise a family here, while contributing to the growth of mental health services in Uganda, through regular short visits, and much background work here. We set up a small charity (Jamie’s Fund), initially to support the hospital-to-hospital partnership, and this became the more active part of the enterprise. We grew from supporting one hospital to three, to 10, to potentially 27 from the last visit, in late 2019. We have developed a model of enabling Ugandan health staff and tutors to deliver training and services, through our funding and supportive visits. I am now retired from my NHS post, but am still able to put my psychological skills and knowledge to good use.
We have developed a model of enabling Ugandan health staff and tutors to deliver training and services, through our funding and supportive visits.
Life during Covid-19
The challenge of the Covid pandemic has been to delay our planned training programme for this year. Although Uganda has had few cases and no fatalities to date, the Ugandan Government imposed a very strict lockdown, which left many people unable to reach healthcare facilities, and our partner hospitals there with much reduced activity and income. Face-to-face skills training is impossible for now. So we have had to adapt, along with the rest of the world, to more remote ways of working and communicating, with the added challenge that most of our colleagues in Uganda have much less reliable access to the internet than we have. Although it is a frustrating and imperfect situation at present, it has made us realise that in the future, we can augment what we already do face-to-face with more online resources, supportive supervision, and communication then we previously thought of.
Be open to possibilities - you never know where your skills and enthusiasms might take you!
Jamie's Fund (external link)