This week, we were joined by ITAKOM Speaker and Founder/CEO of Project 507, Whitney Iles.
Whitney holds multiple professional roles and has over 20 years of experience as a front-line practitioner working with young people and communities affected by violence. Her experience expands across the community and criminal justice system.
She has trained in forensic psychodynamic and organisational psychotherapy at the Tavistock and Portman Clinic and Association for Psychodynamic Practice and Counselling in Organisational Settings. Her specialist focus is on violence and trauma using a psychodynamic framework, which influences her work as both a practitioner and trainer. In 2019, Whitney completed an MSc in Violence, Conflict and Development at SOAS. She is currently studying for an MSc in Psychology and Neuroscience of Mental Health at King’s College London, as well as a Diploma in Naturopathic Nutrition at the College of Naturopathic Medicine.
My name is Whitney Iles. I am a neurodivergent woman. I am also the founder & CEO of an organisation called Project 507. We work with children and young people affected by violence and, not only do we do the face-to-face work, we also look at systems that generate violence and perpetuate harm in order to work with those systems and transform them so fewer people are harmed.
I will be talking at the ITAKOM Conference about neurodiversity and the criminal justice system. I will be focusing on the work that’s already being done within the criminal justice system, especially the prisons around putting a focus on neurodiversity, but also be thinking about who might be left out of a lot of these conversations and a lot of this work, thinking bout intersectionality and the intersection between gender, race and neurodiversity.
I, personally, am really looking forward to ITAKOM because it’s not a conference that I would normally attend. A lot of my work has been very focused around violence, very focused around the criminal system. So, I tend to be at conferences that have themes around trauma and violence and criminal justice, and I’ve never really been able to be my full self in a lot of my professional spaces being an autistic woman as well.
So for me, a lot of this is about opening up myself to a new world and learning what other people are doing, and just having the space to really think and ponder new things and meet other people that might be doing similar work, or might be doing work that’s completely different. But then, seeing how things might overlap, I love to learn and connect the dots with knowledge.
I think the idea of neurodiversity is important because, even within the neurodiverse community, there is so much diversity itself, you know. We might be grouped and labelled into certain criteria: you’re autistic, or you have ADHD or you’re dyslexic or dyspraxic. But even within that, us as individuals, we represent so many different things and we are so unique within ourselves.
And I think that’s so important in this world and in the human experience, that difference, that way that some of us might overlap slightly, where some of us might be completely different, and actually, I think that those differences and those similarities are what kind of create the human experience, but also allow us to divert from the norm and move away from the status quo and think about how do we create a different, a better society?
I think neurodiversity is very, very important when we’re thinking about social justice and human rights and how do we create a society that’s fair, that’s equal, and that’s full of equity. #
And I think that…that’s why I wake up in the morning!