A Specialist Clinical Psychologist with Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust (NSFT) who was involved in delivering an innovative service to help the victims of child sexual exploitation has been presented with a prestigious award in recognition of her work.
Dr Romana Farooq received the Early Career Award from the British Psychological Society’s (BPS) Division of Clinical Psychology’s Faculty for Children, Young People and their Families during its annual conference yesterday. The award is presented to clinical psychologists who have shown significant skill within five years of qualifying.
Dr Farooq leads NSFT’s input into Norfolk’s Harmful Sexual Behaviour Team, which is a partnership with Norfolk Youth Offending Team. This service provides professionals who work with children and young people with specialist training to identify the signs of sexualized behavior with the overall aim of reducing offending and protecting vulnerable young people.
She received the award in recognition of work which took place shortly after she qualified in 2015, which saw her set up a community-based therapeutic service in Rotherham for children and young people at risk of, or currently subject to, sexual exploitation. The service was developed following the abuse scandal in 2014, and Dr Farooq was nominated for the accolade by a local councillor.
“I was honoured to learn that I had been nominated for the award, but also genuinely very surprised,” said Dr Farooq, who joined NSFT last year.
“It is great to be recognised by the BPS, especially so early on in my career, but I genuinely feel the work I did would not have been possible without the commitment of the children, young people, their families and the community in Rotherham.
“We recognised that traditional services were not accessible to the most vulnerable, particularly those from ethnically diverse communities. As a result, we brought together ideas from community psychology and detached youth work to engage vulnerable children and young people where they were at, which sometimes meant meeting them on street corners and parks, which helped us to engage with them much more successfully. The fact that the BPS has recognised this work is really gratifying as it shows there is a new focus on tackling child sexual exploitation.
“I decided to move to Norfolk because it is one of the first areas to highlight harmful sexual behaviour as a priority. There are a lot of issues around peer-on-peer exploitation and sibling-on-sibling abuse in the county, but there is also a real desire to tackle those issues. I was really keen to be part of that and help make a difference to these highly vulnerable young people.”
Nicki Bramford, NSFT’s Children, Families and Young People’s Services Education and Social Care Lead, said: “For Romana to receive this award so early in her career is a fantastic achievement and one of which she should be immensely proud.
“It is a testament to the hard work and commitment she has shown to improve services for some of the most vulnerable children and young people in our communities.”
For more information about the harmful sexual behaviour initiative, visit http://www.nsft.nhs.uk/Pages/New-initiative-to-reduce-harmful-sexual-behaviour.aspx
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