Time to reflect on 2022

Pharmacist Support's Chief Executive, Danielle Hunt, shares her reflections on the past 12 months and looks ahead to 2023.

This time last year, I was reflecting on what had been a hugely challenging couple of years for our profession. The pressure that the pandemic brought upon those working and studying in pharmacy can’t be understated. At the charity, we still witness first-hand the impact on mental, emotional and physical health the past few years have had as people continue to reach out to access our support services.

Through those uncertain times, charities like Pharmacist Support were forced to maximise our capacity to develop our services and make sure we were living up to our vision that no one had to face challenging times without us by their side. I previously detailed our plans for an empowered profession through new developments moving into 2022 – all of which I’m delighted to say have come into fruition, as well as many other exciting developments …

Even more mental health and wellbeing support

Our mental health and wellbeing support continues to grow, with many individuals and teams benefitting from the abundance of guidance and resources available on our website, team training through our Wellbeing Workshops, and individual training through the Wellbeing Learning Platform. Additionally, we’ve continued to provide emotional and psychological support through our independent partnership with our counselling provider, supporting over 140 individuals with emotional difficulties and trauma since the service launched in April 2021.

Encouraging honest conversations within the sector

We also ran our ACTNow wellbeing campaigns for a third year. After successful Student and Trainee campaigns in the first half of 2022, the recent Pharmacist ACTNow campaign looked to tackle some of the issues highlighted through the charity’s research and joint 2021 workforce wellbeing survey with the Royal Pharmaceutical Society around workplace culture and mental health stigma. The campaign was our most successful yet, with almost 90% of ACTNow survey respondents saying that the campaign was either ‘useful’ or ‘very useful’ in supporting them to prioritise their wellbeing, and one respondent telling us: “The ACTNow campaign empowered me to speak up and seek help regarding a current workplace difficulty.

Services development

Following on from a rollercoaster couple of years, in 2022 we wanted to start examining our support services in detail to make sure they remained useful, relevant and accessible. In the summer, we launched a new grants portal which makes it simpler and quicker for people to apply for financial assistance, as well as monitor their application progress.

We’ve also launched a new arm of our Addiction Support, called Addiction Peer Support. This new service, which is currently in a twelve-week trial period, offers individuals the opportunity to speak anonymously and in confidence to one of our trained volunteer pharmacists who has been through addiction themselves, undertaken the journey and is in advanced long-term recovery.

On behalf of all the charity, thank you to everyone who continues to champion our work. 

Continued support from the profession

Our impact continues to grow through our continued focus on building strong partnerships across the profession. This year, we’ve worked with 9 different partners and supporter organisations who’ve helped us to raise awareness of our charity services and provide valuable funds to ensure our support can continue. It isn’t just our partners who have helped us make huge progress. We are immensely grateful to the continued support of our donors, fundraisers and volunteers whose work makes such a difference. So, on behalf of all the charity, thank you to everyone who continues to champion our work.

Achievements we celebrated in the office

As well as external-facing successes, we celebrated internal achievements as a team too. Earlier in the year, Pharmacist Support made a commitment to reduce our impact on the environment. In Autumn, we were pleased to announce that we have already completely divested from fossil fuels – three months ahead of schedule! Furthermore, we were over the moon to be named the winners of the Digital Transformation Award at the Association of Charitable Organisations Annual Awards! As part of our aim to become more digital, this year we have also launched a new customer relationship management system which has allowed us to work more efficiently and effectively whilst supporting more and more across our pharmacy family. And finally, we welcomed five new trustees who continue to bring a plethora of experience and skills and ensure the charity delivers in line with the needs of our beneficiaries.

Our plans for 2023 very much focus on continuing to examine our existing support and ensuring it is fit for purpose and is accessible to all across our pharmacy family.

Looking ahead to 2023

Our plans for 2023 very much focus on continuing to examine our existing support and ensuring it is fit for purpose and is accessible to all across our pharmacy family. We will continue to raise awareness of the important work of the charity and the wellbeing agenda via the ACTNow campaign and through the recruitment of some new charity ambassadors. We’re also launching a new training course for managers and leaders which will look at how to build a culture which supports positive mental health and wellbeing in the workplace. Please sign up to our newsletter to be one of the first to hear about the launch date and how you can access this new training course.

We’ll also be reviewing and developing our fundraising strategy. As with many charities, our income took a considerable hit during the pandemic, and we currently rely on investment drawdowns to effectively fund our vital support services. Our ambition is to have a holistic approach to fundraising and income to make sure we can continue providing support for future generations of our pharmacy family.

Lastly, as a charity, it remains our purpose to support our pharmacy family in perpetuity, as well as continue evolving to remain relevant. We are increasingly asked to consider supporting pharmacy technicians and, as part of our strategic review cycle, we believe that this is the right time to consider options around pharmacy technicians becoming part of our beneficiary pool in the future.

Therefore, the Board of Pharmacist Support has agreed to start a period of engagement with partners and key stakeholders to review the potential impact and next steps during 2023. They will continue to update on progresses and as our understanding of beneficiary need develops.

Until then, we hope you all manage to have a well-earned rest, and from all of us at Pharmacist Support, we say a heartful thank you for your continued dedication to our profession.

Danielle Hunt, Chief Executive