Celebrating our 2021/22 Graduation at the People’s Palace

Last Saturday 7 May we celebrated graduation at the People’s Palace in Mile End for the class of 2021/22. We were delighted to also welcome graduates from 2020/2021 and 2019/2020 who missed out on their own in-person ceremonies due to the pandemic. It was a joyous occasion which brought together graduates, their friends, families and tutors in celebration of the graduates’ hard work and success.

The day featured several insightful addresses, including from Dr Jacqui Dyer MBE who was awarded Honorary Doctor and Hilary Solomon who gave an address on behalf of Mike Solomon, her late husband, who was also awarded Honorary Doctor. Katerina Roumpedaki, systemic psychotherapy (M6) graduate, delivered a moving vote of thanks on behalf of her fellow graduates.

Dr Jacqui Dyer MBE
Image from left to right shows Rt Hon Prof. Paul Burstow, Trust Chair, Dr Jacqui Dyer MBE, Honorary Doctorate recipient, Paul Jenkins, CEO of the Trust, Dr Annecy Lax, Dean of Partnerships at the University of Essex, and Brian Rock, Dean of Postgraduate Studies at the Trust.

Jacqui is an independent health and social care consultant, with lived experience and a background in adult mental health commissioning, as well as community and family social work. Jacqui was vice chair of England’s Mental Health Taskforce, which collaboratively developed the 5 Year Forward View for Mental Health (NHSE) and its transformation of mental health service policy and provision.

Jacqui is a director of the social enterprise Black Thrive Global which evolved from the Black Thrive Lambeth partnership set-up to address the inequalities that negatively impact the mental health and wellbeing of Black people in Lambeth. She is also currently the Mental Health Equalities Advisor for NHSE, and Health Education England (HEE), leading on the Advancing Mental Health Equalities Strategy and the development of the Patient & Carer Race Equality Framework as recommended in the MHARAC and subsequently agreed by the government.

The citation for Honorary Doctor was delivered by Rt Hon Prof. Paul Burstow, Trust Chair.

Paul shared his admiration for Jacqui and gratitude for her accepting the award, and reflected on her words and experiences shared at the Trust’s closing Centenary event.

“Jacqui is an inspirational leader; she is a change maker.”

Paul described the tragic experiences of Jacqui’s two brothers and the indifference rather than care shown in mental health services, as too often is the case for those of Black Caribbean and African descent. He went on to detail her journey in advocacy and fighting to address the root causes of mental health inequality.

“Jacqui’s passion, determination and leadership has seen her influencing and shaping agendas and making change happen here in the UK.

None of what Jacqui has achieved would have been possible without her commitment to speaking truth to power. Jacqui is open, honest, and uncompromising in her approach. She is fearless in her determination to tackle racism in the health system and stand up for people who have no voice. Despite significant personal tragedy, she has never flinched from saying what she believes to be right.”

Paul also acknowledged that the work left to do for the Trust to be a truly anti-racist organisation in thought, word and deed, and the determination of the Trust Board to lead and see through change.

On receiving the award Jacqui shared her hopes for working together collaboratively, with intersectionality at the heart, to address the inequities that the populations we serve experience.

“I feel like through this doorway, which is also how I perceive this award, is an opportunity to support the Tavistock and the university to evolve in its ambitions to deliver services, and education, that are anti-discriminatory, anti-oppressive and anti-racist…

…I want to assist in this endeavour. I am a systems thinker and doer; I locate myself wherever there are levers to make positive change for the many. If there are no levers, I work with others to create them.”

Dr Mike Solomon
Image from left to right shows Hilary Solomon, widow of Mike Solomon, and Kay Trainor who delivered Mike’s citation.

A consultant clinical psychologist by background, Mike brought specific expertise in the advancement of clinical work with children and young people with social, emotional and mental health difficulties who had been excluded from mainstream school, as well as their families and the professional network around them. He worked in innovative ways in order to ensure that he reached marginalised and vulnerable students and their families.

Mike was loved and respected by colleagues from across the Trust. He wore his expertise lightly, which, alongside his passion and commitment to the work, created the conditions for bringing people together to work to improve the lives of some of the most vulnerable children and young people in society.

The citation for Honorary Doctor was delivered by Dr Kay Trainor.

Kay outlined Mike’s career journey and how he was prompted to train in clinical psychology after he noticed gaps in services for young people and their families during his time at the King’s Fund. He started working with some of Camden’s most marginalised young people in 2004 at the Tavistock Clinic.

“I think of him as a pioneer in his chosen field of schools-based mental health work. He had a clarity of ideas and a compassion for understanding the context in which people lived.”

Over time he became increasingly interested in working with the organisations – schools, Mental Health Trusts and others – with which children and their families interacted: “He had an ability to apply psychological findings and ideas to wider society – treating the school rather than just the individual adolescent and their family”.

Kay described how they first met in Finchley at a group trying to combine consultancy with creative processes: “His willingness to embrace the new in terms of his practice, however unconventional, was a real strength.”

She went on to describe the significant contributions Mike made to the development of the Tavistock Group Relations Conferences and some of the quirkier possibilities discussed. These include an Equine Group Relations and wondering if there would be a way to get a horse into the lecture theatre! She expressed admiration for how Mike ‘saw the system’: “It sometimes felt like he could see the whole dance of a conference, all the different rooms where apparently disconnected conversations were going on.”

She rounded off her address by talking about the TEDx talk Mike recorded with colleague Fiona Starr titled ‘eight lessons in resilience’. In this he used a ‘Weeble’ (the 1970s toy with a weighted hemispheric base) to illustrate that when times are tough, we wobble, but we don’t fall down.

Hilary Solomon, Mike’s widow, accepted the award on his behalf. At the end of her moving response Hilary told The Tale of the Starfish, to capture Mike’s approach to his work and life:

A young girl was walking along a beach upon which thousands of starfish had been washed up during a terrible storm. When she came to each starfish, she would pick it up, and throw it back into the ocean. People watched her with amusement.

She had been doing this for some time when a man approached her and said, “Little girl, why are you doing this? Look at this beach! You can’t save all these starfish. You can’t begin to make a difference!”

After a few moments, she bent down, picked up another starfish, and hurled it as far as she could into the ocean. Then she looked up at the man and replied:

“Well, I made a difference for that one!”

Congratulations to all who graduated last Saturday! We wish the best to all our graduates and hope they stay in touch by joining our alumni society.

For a better viewing experience we recommend you upgrade your browser.