My friend, Marcia Worrell, who has died suddenly aged 54, forged a path in becoming one of a small group of black female professors of psychology. All Marcia’s scholarly work evolved from her long-held desire to call out injustice and oppression. Those who knew her cherished her kindness, warmth and energy.
Marcia was born and grew up in north London, the daughter of Odella (nee Patterson), a nurse, and Ulric Worrell, a carpenter and joiner, and the sister of Ian and Floyd. After leaving Canons high school, Harrow, in 1985 she began her undergraduate degree in psychology and sociology at the University of Reading, then completed her PhD in child abuse and neglect at the Open University, holding several academic posts before being awarded a professorship at the University of West London in 2014.
Over 35 years her friends watched with pride as Marcia developed innovative university modules and courses, while she undertook research aimed at making a positive change in a wide range of areas, all of which had one thing in common, helping to change people’s lives for the better.
At the Open University she was involved in creating courses relating to child welfare and protection, including the implications of the new Children’s Act (1989) for social work and other health and welfare practices. As her career progressed, Marcia’s focus expanded, and she became involved in an astonishing number of projects and roles, working in areas such as the psychology of women, of race and ethnicity, social, health and forensic psychology, child abuse and neglect.
Lately, at the University of West London, she had been involved in implementing the new policing education and qualification framework in partnership with the Metropolitan police and the London Policing College. She was one of the first members of the London Policing Research Network established in 2018. Marcia was especially proud of her work in the field of child abuse and neglect, including her support for survivors, and her international work in South Africa, Turkey and Cambodia, where she was instrumental in setting up one of the first master’s courses in psychology.
Marcia’s sense of fun and mischief were contagious. She loved music and dance, especially reggae – her favourite genre was lover’s rock, and one of her favourite artists was Janet Kay. Above all, she cared passionately about her students and colleagues.
She is survived by her parents, her brothers, and a niece, Leah, and two nephews, Dylan and Louie.
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