This is Helen Curr and she is the new Chief Executive at Here. In this video, Helen talks about her career in healthcare and how she arrived at our Social Enterprise.
How did you come to be Here?
I’m a psychologist by training – I trained in London and worked in South London with a bit of an interesting background. I worked in quite a lot of forensic mental health settings before I moved into primary care and then started doing the Improved Access to Psychological Therapies type work.
In 2012, I came to Here as the Clinical Lead for the Wellbeing Service, which is our primary care mental service. And then in 2015, just after I had a baby, I came back as Director of Clinical Services. And that’s when I got to know the rest of Here.
Why do you want to lead Here?
The thing that’s always been what I’ve enjoyed doing and what has been important to me has been helping people to be the best that they can be, the best version of themselves. And so when I look over all of the things I’ve done in my life, I think that is the kind of common theme. So when I’m working therapeutically with people, it was about understanding why is it that they got stuck and how could we, together, help them to move forward.
And the more that I worked clinically, the more that I understood that actually the systems that we put around people are the thing that often enables us to do our best work. And I think that’s where I got drawn into wanting to be a manager to lead because actually, as a clinician, you can help the people who are in front of you and you can sometimes help the people maybe who are waiting behind them.
But as a leader, you might have the opportunity to actually set up a system so that all of your clinicians are able to do their best work and all of the people that come in and need to make use of their services, get what they need to get. And Here feels like a place where that value is actually really important to us. That just felt like a really good match.
What have you learned in the last year?
I’ve always known that the perspective you hold on things makes an enormous difference to how you behave. One thing I found really helpful in the last year is to not operate from a place of scarcity or threat or anxiety, which, of course, is difficult because actually we live in a world which is, even before COVID, quite volatile and uncertain and becoming more insular and protectionist. And those things are all things that are really uncomfortable for me. So one thing I’ve learned is to make sure that you focus on the things that you can do, the differences you can make and the good things that are around us.
And in many ways, we’re not a society of scarcity, we are a society of abundance. There is so much out there if we can just tap in and look in the right places for it. Even right now, when they wanted NHS volunteers, they set this massively ambitious target of getting 250,000 people to volunteer to help. And what they got was 750,000 people who wanted to help.
So it’s there. You just need to focus on the right things.
What inspires you?
People inspire me. One of the things I most like about working here is that I think we’ve been able to create something special where people can bring the best of themselves. And I love discovering people’s hidden skills and talent, which can just pop out, and you’re like “wow, I didn’t know you could do that. That’s amazing. Let’s do something with that.”
What is important for anyone to lead?
There’s one thing in talking about leadership that is really important to me, which is about bravery and honesty and about being really courageously authentic, which I think can be quite difficult to do sometimes.
But I think that sits at the heart of things like Courageous Conversations, that is the heart of leadership for me. It’s taking the risk to say, “I need to say something to you that might be quite difficult to hear. But if it’s not said, there’s going to be an impact that carries on for weeks and months.”
And I think when I was talking about leadership and creating safety, it’s in order to enable us to be braver.
What is your greatest hope for us at Here?
That we hold true to it all. It’s not about an end destination. It’s about living the journey, being in the journey, enjoying it. Finding ways to do meaningful work. Making small, meaningful differences. It’s not about an enormous ambition.
It’s about knowing that each day, we’ve done the things that make a difference.
What does the world need right now?
The world always needs more kindness, more patience, more tolerance, a genuine understanding of other people that we all have the same hopes, the same dreams, the same challenges and problems. And we don’t need to pretend or hide any of that.
We all need to be okay with not being okay – be ourselves. And when we do that, people respond to who we are.