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With over 7,000 staff making up #TeamNELFT, we have a lot of stories to
tell and share! Hear from a variety of staff on various topics.

NELFT celebrates working mums on Mother’s Day

Happy Mother's Day, flower bunch, NELFT logos, light yellow background

At North East London NHS Foundation Trust (NELFT) our workforce consists of over 80% women, many of whom are mums. 

As part of our Just and Compassionate Culture, we aspire to be a world-class employer for working mums to ensure they are able to cope with out-of-work demands to meet the needs of their families and themselves. 

We spoke to two proud working mums who work in Psychology to talk about their experiences. 

Monika Wilkowska - High Intensity Therapist

Monika has been working for NHS Talking Therapies since 2012 as a Psychological Wellbeing Practitioner. After two maternity leaves (2016 and 2017) with five months of working in between, Monika returned to work on a part time basis. 

Moving to NELFT in 2018, Monika was soon promoted and was provided with training opportunities meaning she got into the year training for higher banding – CBT Therapist (full time job) and straight after I was able to reduce my hours to 4 days – just in time for her boys to start school. 

What is your role at NELFT and when did you start? 

I am a Cognitive Therapist since February 2021 working Monday – Tuesday and Thursday – Friday. 

My role focuses on offering therapy and support to depressed and anxious clients in a primary care setting.  We treat OCD, PTSD, social anxiety, phobias, general anxiety and low mood. 

Why did you decide to return to work?

During my first pregnancy I worked at a different NHS Trust and felt like I was missing out on opportunities due to my pregnancy such as training. After my second maternity leave, I decided that I wanted to return to work but at a different service. 

I spoke to a former colleague who told me about Redbridge Talking Therapies and how kind, understanding, nurturing and supportive they are. After this conversation, I successfully applied for a role at Redbridge, where my part time requirements were approved straightaway. I worked Monday to Wednesday with one day a week working from home, and this was prior to COVID-19.

How do you find balancing parenthood and work? 

NELFT’s flexible hours help me a lot. If I need to pick up my child, I can do my admin work later, if I have parents evening or need to drop my children off to school, I can plan my diary around it. There is never an issue with requesting annual leave for half term or school holiday - family is a priority, which is wonderful. 

What advice would you give someone who is thinking about returning to work? 

Find the right environment that is caring of not only its patients but towards its employees. Working in a naturing culture has made all the difference. 


Judith Friedman - Clinical Director of Psychological Professions

Judith is a mother of four sons. She became a qualified Clinical Psychologist eight weeks before her first son was born. Judith worked throughout her motherhood on a range of different contract types in order to balance work and being a mum. Over the years Judith has increased her hours and became full time in December 2021 for the first time since qualifying. 

What is your role at NELFT and when did you start? 

I started in May 2022 as the Clinical Director of Psychological Professions at NELFT. I have a busy role where I meet with many different professionals across the Trust and in other Trusts. I spend a lot of time in meetings and work across different bases to meet with a range of colleagues.

Why did you decide to return to work? 

Being a psychologist is part of my identity. I believe that I am a better mother for being a working mother and my sons are proud of the work that I do. I am fortunate to share childcare responsibilities with my husband as we parent our boys together. 

I joined NELFT as a fabulous opportunity came up here and I was impressed with the vision. I noticed that NELFT was able to look at the experience with Psychological Professionals and admit where things had gone wrong. They were willing to have adult conversations about the pressures of staff and prioritised a just and compassionate culture which provided me with great reassurance. 

How do you find balancing motherhood and work?

NELFT allows flexible working and so I have been able to flex my working arrangements over the course of my children’s lives, having worked part time and flexibly until my boys were old enough for me to work full time. Having a supportive manager and a flexible offer available at work has been extremely helpful.

What advice would you give someone who is thinking about returning to work? 

It may seem insurmountable and hard to contemplate being able to work and be a parent, but it is possible! Don’t give up the plans and have an open mind about flexing your working pattern as and when you need to dependent on your children’s ages and needs. You don’t need to lose the part of your identity that is a professional just because you are a parent. You can do both and you can do both well!


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