Leading psychology professor and DMU PVC Research joins Wandsworth Council in advisory role

A leading psychology expert and the Pro Vice-Chancellor for Research at De Montfort University Leicester (DMU) has been appointed by Wandsworth Council to help tackle social isolation and loneliness.

Professor Rusi Jaspal, who lives in the London Borough, has been named the new Adult Social Care and Public Health Advisor for the council thanks to his extensive experience in the field of health and wellbeing.

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As PVC Research and a Professor of Psychology and Sexual Health at DMU, Prof Jaspal’s work focuses on researching and developing effective interventions for enhancing health and wellbeing in marginalised groups in society.

He will use his experience to help strengthen services across his home borough, with a focus on increasing skills and knowledge around behaviour change.

“I am particularly interested in Wandsworth because I am a resident there, so it’s really great to have the opportunity to work with the council to look at ways of enhancing health and wellbeing among our residents,” said Prof Jaspal.

“Combating loneliness and developing a sense of community among our residents is so important because we know that a sense of community means that people enjoy better mental health and better physical health outcomes.

“We also need to give people a sense of autonomy, resilience and independence to make the decisions that are really going to enhance their own wellbeing and the wellbeing of others in their communities.”

Having conducted a wealth of research into health and wellbeing on both a local and national scale, Prof Jaspal was headhunted for the role by Councillor Paul Ellis, Wandsworth Council’s former cabinet member for Adult Care and Health.

“There are a number of academics around the country who are experts in this field and we are fortunate to have one living in Wandsworth,” said Councillor Ellis. “We are delighted to be working with Prof Jaspal. He will be a critical friend to the council and as an Adult Social Care and Public Health Advisor help us deliver better services for our residents.”

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Social isolation and loneliness is known to have a negative impact on individual health and wellbeing at different stages of life. In Wandsworth only 41% of adult social care users surveyed say that they have as much social contact as they would like. 

Carers are also at increasing risk of isolation with only 25% of carers in Wandsworth having as much social contact as they would like, compared to 37% across London.

One of the highest risk factors for experiencing loneliness is age. Around 8% (10,385) of households in the borough are occupied by a single person aged 65 or over, and around 40% (10,835) of people aged 65 are over are living alone.

Prof Jaspal added: “The other thing I would like to help the council with is to develop evidence-based strategies for changing behaviours. It’s about ensuring that residents are able to change their behaviours, adopt more healthy behaviours and for those behaviours to be sustained over a period of time.”

Prof Jaspal was elected a Fellow of the British Psychological Society in 2015. He is also a Chartered Scientist, Chartered Psychologist, a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts and a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy.

Posted on: Wednesday 26 June 2019

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