The Fold Woman: Juli Crocombe

The Fold Woman: Juli Crocombe
May 23, 2016 The Fold

Can you tell us about your career and how you came to your current role of Clinical Director for Autistic Spectrum Disorders?

When I first qualified as a doctor I had no idea what area of medicine I wanted to enter, so I joined a GP training scheme. The last post of my three-year rotation was in Psychiatry, and I knew almost immediately that this was the specialty for me. As a junior psychiatrist I particularly enjoyed my experience of Forensic Psychiatry and found Learning Disability Psychiatry very rewarding, so after completing my Membership (MRCPsych) exams I chose to train to work as a Consultant in Forensic Learning Disability Psychiatry. It was during this phase of my training that I started to work intensively with people with autism and complex mental health problems and I developed a real affinity with the people I supported and their families. I was very lucky to undertake a research project with the late Dr Lorna Wing, and I think it’s fair to say that this experience had a significant impact on my career. Lorna was a truly inspirational person and I learnt so much from her.

I qualified as a Consultant Psychiatrist in 2001 and since then I have worked in specialist mental health services for people with autism and/or a learning disability in both the NHS and the Independent Sector. I joined St Andrew’s, a charity that provides specialist mental healthcare, in 2013 as a Consultant Psychiatrist at a low secure unit for offenders with autism. As well as my clinical work providing assessment and treatment as part of a multi-disciplinary team I am also the Clinical Director for the charity’s Autistic Spectrum Disorder service, providing clinical leadership to ensure that we deliver a high quality, world-class service to transform our patients’ lives.

Juli Crocombe The Fold Woman

Juli wears The Northcote Dress in ivory jacquard

You have a wealth of experience in Autistic Spectrum Disorders. Do you think public awareness of autism needs to increase? What would you like to see change?

Whilst there has been some increase in public awareness of autism in the last ten years there remains a great deal of ignorance and misunderstanding about this developmental disorder. Many people are not recognised as having autism, and even those who have a diagnosis struggle to receive the care and support they need to lead an inclusive and rewarding life. As a result, many people with autism experience high levels of stress and anxiety and frequently develop mental health problems. There needs to be better access to diagnosis and more public services to offer support so that people with autism can enjoy a fulfilling and rewarding life. Importantly, more research is needed to inform the support offered.

What is the greatest career challenge you have faced?

There have been many challenges, but I think working full-time and taking my Membership exams whilst caring for a young child was the major hurdle I had to overcome. I struggled to pass my exams and could easily have given up, but I can be very determined when I have set my mind on something.


Juli wears The Fitzrovia Dress in pale cornflower

Can you tell us more about your work with the government?

I am the Chair of the Advisory Board to the All Party Parliamentary Group for Autism (APPGA), whose role is to campaign in Parliament for greater awareness of autism, and to lobby the Government for improved services for people with autism and their carers.

I am also the Co-Chair of the Royal College of Psychiatrists’ Westminster Parliamentary Committee and represent and promote the College’s priorities, policies and campaigns within Parliament to ensure that mental health services receive the recognition they need and deserve. Our current priority is to ensure that there is sufficient funding for mental healthcare services to achieve parity of esteem with physical healthcare services.

What drives you in your career?    

The immense pleasure and satisfaction that comes with improving the lives of people with autism and their families.

Juli Crocombe Fold Woman

Juli wears The Northcote Dress in ivory jacquard

How would you describe your 9-5 style?

My work is very varied, so my style reflects this. On clinical days I tend to wear trousers and add a jacket if I have a meeting. If I have a management day I dress more formally in a dress or skirt with a jacket. When I’m presenting at a conference or undertaking my parliamentary work it is important that my style projects my professional identity. The Fold collection is perfect for this and I always feel confident in their outfits, enabling me to focus on the task in hand.

Your job must come with challenges – how do you unwind outside of the workplace?

I’m a firm believer in exercise as the modern day solution to the body’s ‘fight or flight’ response to stress, so I run. An hour running straight after work, preferably outside, and I’m ready to relax for the evening. I find that entering races helps to keep me motivated so I’ve taken part in everything from 10Ks right up to completing the London Marathon a couple of years ago.

The Fold Woman Juli Crocombe

Juli wears The Fitzrovia Dress in pale cornflower

And finally, what is your favourite piece from The Fold’s summer collection?

I absolutely love the Fitzrovia dress. The colour is so pretty, but the classic style means that it still looks professional. I also love the ivory jacquard collection and am looking forward to wearing my Newbury dress and Marylebone jacket to my Summer events.

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