History of APCMH/Being Alongside

Calling all historians…… John Vallatt has a long association with the charity and has documented much of its history in 2016. We hope you find it an interesting read.



PART 1.  From Bright Beginnings through Testing Times to the Second Spring (1986 to 1993)



 Jane and Austin Lindon’s son, who had schizophrenia, had been a psychiatric in-patient for 2 years when Jane realised that he had not received a single visit from a priest during that time.  That was not surprising in the mid-1980s as it was then felt by many, if not most, mental health professionals that spiritual or religious thoughts were delusional or even a symptom of mental illness and that those matters were best avoided.   On the other hand, parish priests and other faith leaders had little experience of people with severe mental health issues and took their lead from the psychiatrists.  It was not unusual for the spiritual well-being of seriously ill patients to be ignored.  Jane, a Catholic, was appalled.  Determined to try to do something about it, she sent a letter to a number of people whom she and her husband, Austin, thought might be interested in helping.  She invited them to a meeting at St Giles Church Hall on 2nd October 1986 at which a steering committee was formed.

Bright Beginnings

There followed a number of meetings in quick succession.  Austin Lindon’s proposal to “form an association concerned with the spiritual well-being of the mentally ill and their close relatives” was adopted with the addition of a phrase included in Jane’s initial letter “which would involve visiting, befriending and informally counselling the mentally sick”.  Austin became the Chairman, Jane the Secretary, Dr Gordon Conran the Vice-Chairman, Anthony Grundy the Treasurer, Dennis Murray the Training Officer and Fred Carney the Publicity Officer. 

On 19th November 1986 the name for the Association was agreed as “Association for the Pastoral Care of the Mentally Ill” and it was known as “APCMI” until the name was changed by resolution of the members to the Association for Pastoral Care in Mental Health with effect from 1st January 1996.

At the same meeting Dennis Murray was appointed Training Officer.  Three meetings later, on 28th January 1987, Dennis was appointed Development Officer and it was agreed to have an office at 39 St Johns Lane EC1. 

APCMI was up and running but there was a pressing need for finance to pay rent, expenses and Dennis’s salary.  Austin Lindon not only acted as Chairman but also as Fundraiser and, in this capacity, was committed, determined, energetic and successful, particularly in obtaining funding from the Cripplegate Foundation.   Jane wrote articles, spoke at meetings, promoted the Association and helped with enquiries and administration in the office.  As early as April 1987, Dennis was supporting “7 beneficiaries” but his main development role was in establishing and then supporting groups of interested people in their own local areas.  This resulted in the formation of a number of local “branches” each of which had its own local identity and its own projects such as drop-ins, befriending schemes, hospital visiting, outings or spreading the message about the need for pastoral care in the mental health field.  But these “branches” were part of APCMI for which the national committee was responsible both for their activities, their volunteers, their health and safety and their finances.  Initially this did not worry the National Committee but in due course it did become an issue. 

The first local meeting of a prospective “branch” was held in High Wycombe in April 1987.  By February 1988 there were groups or branches in High Wycombe, Dulwich, Oxford and Croydon with others in Brentwood, Chelmsford, City and Hackney, Friern and Islington, Hampstead, Maidstone and Guildford being developed.

A membership was also being developed.  By March 1987 there were already 44 members.  This grew to 67 by May 1987, and continued to rise rapidly to 150 by February 1988 and 375 by September 1989.  The need for and the interest in pastoral care for those with mental health issues was clearly established.

The first Newsletter of the Association was published in December 1987 by which time APCMI had become a registered charity with a formal constitution. 

Newsletter number 4 published in September 1988 gives details of the Inaugural Service for the Association which was held at St Marylebone Parish Church on 12th June 1988.  This Service was attended by the Lord Mayor of Westminster and nearly 300 other people.  Jane Lindon gave an address and read messages from the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Moderator of the Free Church Federal Council, the Cardinal Archbishop of Westminster and the Chief Rabbi as well as a blessing from the Association’s Patron, Bishop John Crowley, the Bishop of London.  Father C Cunningham also gave an address.  The Service was jointly conducted by the Rector of St Marylebone, the Revd C Hamel Cooke and the Revd Vernon Muller, Chaplain to Friern Hospital who was also serving on the APCMI Management Committee.  Dennis Murray, Austin Lindon and Major Pamela Wood of the Salvation Army also participated in the Service.

During the remainder of 1988, a national training course was held for 11 people, a “Think-In” day arranged and a branch constitution agreed.   Nick Cotton who was already a founder member of the Dulwich Branch (later known as Forest Hill) joined the National Committee for the first time.

Austin Lindon continued with his fundraising efforts and they bore further fruit when SANE agreed to make a grant of £34,383 for the expenses of local branches and support groups.  This was noted in the minutes of the Management Committee meeting held on 4th July 1989 at which meeting Brother Adrian Tate was appointed to the Committee.  At the next meeting in September 1989, job descriptions were agreed for a National Development and Administration Officer (then being carried out by Dennis Murray) and a London Development Worker.  The Association had also agreed to pay 50% of the salary of a new worker for the Kings Cross project.  The intention was to increase the paid staff from 1 to 2.5 and this necessitated larger office premises.  At that time, there was confidence that this could be managed as there was ever increasing interest in the Association’s work.  It was noted at that September meeting that the membership had grown to 375 and that 550 copies of the latest newsletter had been distributed.

By the December 1989 Committee meeting, there were nearly 400 members, 7 established branches (including Dulwich, Croydon and Guildford all of which continued to thrive for many years) and 3 embryonic branches.  There was also an established London Training Course.  The Association was flourishing but a significant financial deficit was forecast unless an additional £3,000 could be raised by the end of the year.  The Treasurer resigned at this meeting and Nick Cotton took over responsibility for the finances, eventually being appointed Treasurer at the March 1990 meeting. 

By May 1990, the Association’s office had been moved to new premises at 351 City Road EC1.  At the July 1990 meeting, Jane Lindon, having worked full-time for the Association for almost 4 years on an entirely voluntary basis, asked to stand down and at the ensuing AGM she became “Life President”.  The Kings Cross Project position had been advertised and Julian Hopwood was appointed, starting work on 28th July 1990.   

As the response to advertisements for the London Development Worker had been disappointing, it was decided at the July meeting to base the second Development Worker in the North.  Christine Kelsey was appointed and a Northern Regional Office was established in York.  Christine started work on 1st November 1990.

The following AGM was held in Eastbourne on 29th June 1991 and Austin’s Report as Chairman tells a story of success, growth and optimism for the future.  There were, by then, 11 branches; training courses for volunteers had been conducted at branches in Kingston, Croydon, Guildford and Eastbourne.  Many other seminars and similar events had been held “in centres from Aberdeen to Chelmsford and from York to Tower Hamlets” with an event in Bexley entitled “Community Care…Our Pastoral Response” attracting more than 90 people.  A Carers Helpline had been established in Guildford and had won a £1,000 prize from Scottish Widows.  There were well-staffed offices in London and York.  But there were testing times ahead and, in the following year, much was to change.


There had, indeed, been bright beginnings and the Association had been very successful with rapid growth.  However, amidst the confidence and faith with which its work had been taken forward, there were concerns.  The Association was not incorporated and the Management Committee was responsible for all of its work including that of the local branches over which there was little “head office” control.  There was inadequate core funding and the financial viability of the Association depended on sufficient ongoing fundraising.  The Committee members were potentially personally liable for the Association’s debts if it was unable to pay.  And the annual budget with 2.5 paid workers and 2 offices had increased to such an extent that at the June 1991 Committee meeting the financial forecast was that it would be necessary to raise £84,000 for the next year. 

Julian Hopwood started working full-time on the Holy Cross Project from September 1991 so that the APCMI office lost the additional administrative support that he had been giving.  At about the same time, the Lindons moved to Peterborough where they intended to start an East Anglian Regional Office which they continued to promote until finally retiring from APCMI Anglia (as it had become) in February 1994..

There was an increasing awareness that the finances were looking bleak.  By September 1991, there was already a deficit estimated at £1649.80, excluding the funds held for branches (which were restricted and not available to meet the debts of the National Association), and expenses were exceeding income by an estimated £2,000 per month.  There was little available to pay salaries and it would be necessary to raise £6,500 by the end of the year.

In view of the financial position, it was decided that there was no option but to give Dennis notice and his employment ceased at the end of October.  This caused consternation amongst Committee members and Austin Lindon resigned as Chairman on 20th October 1991.  Nick Cotton, who had been Vice-Chairman, became the Chairman and Brother Adrian Tate took over as Treasurer and Administrator.  Adrian offered to give his full-time service to the Association for 6 months.  That offer was accepted by the Committee.

The Lindons were present at the Committee Meeting held on 2nd December 1991 when a shortfall of £10,000 was disclosed.  It was agreed to leave the office at City Road and use St Edwards House as the office with Adrian as administrator.  By the next meeting in January 1992, the deficit had grown to £12,000 and Adrian indicated that he could not be responsible for debts resulting from decisions of the Committee.  Since the last meeting, the offer of facilities at St Edwards House had been rejected so it was decided to keep the office at City Road until the end of March 1992.

Nick Cotton resigned from the Committee on 27th February 1992 and, following a Study Day held in Guildford, four new trustees (including Pam Freeman) were appointed to add to those (including Jeremy Boutwood) who had been appointed at the 1991 AGM.  Adrian Tate resigned as Treasurer on 1st April 1992 and on 27th April 1992, Deborah Rolland became Chair and Jeremy Boutwood Vice-Chair.  The Lindons resigned from the Committee in June 1992 and Jane Lindon relinquished her title of Life President.  There had been an almost complete change of Officers and Committee members.

Furthermore, Christine Kelsey had been given notice and her employment as Northern Development Officer ended on 30th September 1992. 

Within a year, the National Association had lost the services of its Founder, its main Fundraisers, its staff and its offices.  These were, indeed, testing times for the Association.

If it had not been for Brother Adrian and Nick Cotton who kept the Association going during the crisis at the end of 1991 and the early months of 1992, it is difficult to see how the Association could have survived.  Adrian had taken over as Treasurer on 7th September 1991 until 1st April 1992.  Thereafter he still continued to work 1 day per week on administration.  Nick was Chairman between October 1991 and February 1992 when he resigned from the National Committee while still continuing to be heavily involved with the Dulwich Branch which ran the Forest Hill drop-in.

It was necessary to raise funds to pay off APCMI’s debts and this was achieved by June 1992 as a result of individual generosity. 

But it was also necessary to re-define the Association’s aims and objectives with a less ambitious approach to development and growth.  Brother Adrian prepared a draft Report with the conclusion that the Association’s role was (i) in sowing seeds that others cultivated and (ii) nursing embryonic branches.  Without being expressly adopted, this role has more or less continued up to the present time in 2016.

With the change in personnel and Committee members, it was decided to hold an APCMI “Mission Workshop” on 10th October 1992 facilitated by Theresa Pride.  Her analysis was that:

“APCMI is an organisation of people who believe in the spiritual integrity of people with mental health problems

Whose purpose is to help church communities promote/initiate and sustain initiatives to recognise and address the needs of people with mental health problems, their carers and families.”

There was a follow-up “Think Day” in March 1993 when it was agreed that the National Association should provide resource network for groups and individuals.

However, the Association had become very fragile and it was still doubtful whether it could continue.  Therefore, on 19th April 1993 it was agreed by the Committee that there should be a proposal at the AGM for the dissolution of the Association. 


During this crisis period others had come.  They included Jeremy Boutwood, Pam Freeman and Neil MacKenzie.  Jeremy had become Chair in January 1993 following the resignation of Deborah Rolland because of her health.  Pam took over as Secretary and Neil as Treasurer.

The AGM was held in Croydon on 3rd July.  The resolution for dissolution was unanimously defeated.  Jeremy, as Chair, wrote “A Message from the New Management Committee” in September 1993 in which he said:

“Over the last year many people, both from within and from concerned friends and allies outside, have wondered what has been happening.  The National Committee became the focus for rumours of secrecy and loss of nerve; inaction and loss of direction were presumed.

In fact, much work went on in consolidating what APCMI has achieved over the seven years of its existence, with a strong emphasis on the strength of local branches and on a re-evaluation of how the original vision could be taken forward within realistic boundaries.  Adrian Tate manfully coped with duties of Administrator, Secretary and Treasurer, and it has been due to his perseverance that we arrived at the last AGM intact.  At the same time, Theresa Pride, from the Brentwood Project, led us through extremely well-focussed think-in days, from which has emerged the essentials of a mission statement and a clarification of the objectives to be followed for discovering new energies.

38 people attended the Annual General Meeting held at Croydon at the beginning of July, and there was an unanimous vote to commission a new Committee to work to find a necessary Second Spring for taking the Association forward into the new culture of Community Care.”

He added “We are very pleased that the Founder, Jane Lindon, has given her support and best wishes for the endeavours of this Committee.”

Jeremy also referred to the fact that the Hastings Branch was to become an independent local limited company with charitable status whilst remaining affiliated to APCMI and that that “could be the way forward – the APCMI acting as a catalyst throughout the country developing, encouraging and supporting mental health initiatives amongst local churches without expecting to ‘own’ them.”

By this time the Holy Cross Centre had agreed to allow their office to be used as the address for APCMI and for Committee meetings.

The Association had survived and had, in effect, been re-born with a new vision as to how to meet the same underlying aims but with greatly reduced resources in terms of staff and funding. There was, in Jeremy’s words, a Second Spring.

PART 2.             The Boutwood Era

Re-setting the Sights, Ringing the Changes and Sowing More Seeds (1993 to 2002)


Part 1 of this short history showed how the vision of the Association’s Founder, Jane Lindon, became a reality; how the Association was formed and grew rapidly with a strong team of committed staff and volunteers, two busy offices in London and York and an ever-growing number of branches and members; how the Association became a victim of its success and how it struggled when funds became short and key personnel left.  The continued existence of the Association was in doubt. 

However, at the AGM in July 1993, it was agreed not to dissolve the Association but to continue with a new Committee under the Chairmanship of Jeremy Boutwood.  Jeremy was one of a few special people without whom the Association would probably not have survived. Jeremy joined the National Committee at the AGM in June 1991.  By April 1992 he had become Vice-Chair and from September 1992 he was acting as Chair as the appointed Chair, Deborah Rolland, was unwell.  Deborah had resigned by the time of the Committee meeting on 21st January 1993.  Jeremy continued as Chair until retiring at the AGM in November 1997.  He then remained as a most influential and active member of the Committee until his sad and premature death from leukaemia in September 2002.  It is appropriate to call this period “the Boutwood Era”.

By April 1993 Adrian Tate, who had devoted so much time and effort in keeping APCMI going for the previous 18 months, had relinquished all involvement in its administration and management.  Almost all of the Committee members had been recently appointed. At the AGM in July 1993, Adrian Tate retired from the Committee, Jeremy was confirmed as Chair, Pam Freeman (whose unbroken membership of the Committee still continues after 24 years) was appointed Secretary and Neil MacKenzie Treasurer.  Jeremy (Guildford branch) and Pam and Neil (Croydon branch) had all been involved in their local branches for some time but they had little experience of the Association at national level. They faced an immense challenge just to keep the Association in existence.

Re-Setting the Sights

The new Committee continued to reconsider the aims and objectives of the Association in the light of the changed circumstances, namely, the loss of paid staff, office premises and funding sources. It was recognised that the mere existence of the National Association was important to the existing branches.  If the Association ceased to exist, the branches would also be dissolved and would need to start again as individual charities.  There was also a role in networking and awareness-raising.

A training day led by Dennis Murray (who had continued to support APCMI after his employment as Development Officer had been terminated in 1991) was held on 21st January 1995.  As a result it was agreed that:

“APCMI’s aim is to encourage effective and appropriate pastoral care for those with mental health needs and their families” and that APCMI “should raise awareness and bridge the gap between the churches and the professionals”.

Since then, these aims have been reviewed from time to time but have substantially remained the same until the present day.  Subsequent planning reviews have been more concerned with the means by which these aims might be achieved rather than with the aims themselves.

In April 1996, David Walters and Neil MacKenzie produced an excellent and professional Business Plan which, if implemented, might have restored the Association’s activities to something like those that it had had during the first Linden era.  The Business Plan required substantial funding as well as more Committee involvement and responsibility.  The initial application for funding was unsuccessful and the Business Plan was not pursued.  The Committee accepted that the Association should continue with its lesser role with a small budget, no paid staff and no office. 

Solid foundations were laid for the Association albeit for a much smaller structure.  Nevertheless this resulted in an Association that was manageable, realistic and affordable.  The re-setting of the sights involved some pain and anguish but it did mean that the Association could continue without the previous threats to its existence.

As Jeremy wrote for APCMH in 1996 under the title “Bringing God’s Presence into the Darkness – 10 years Activity for People with Mental Health Problems and their families and friends” :

“In the long term APCMH aims to be a key resource for empowering church communities to take an active role in the support of mentally-ill people in the Community.  This does not necessarily mean branches of APCMH, but a role in running training and awareness-raising conferences, thus encouraging local action in ways that respect local church networks and culture.”

In this article Jeremy also referred to the fact that, in the early days of the Association, the Development Officer, Dennis Murray, worked with the Jewish Community in London to form JAMI (the Jewish Association for the Mentally Ill).  He said that in the previous year or two there had been a focus on a clearer Christian identity though not every volunteer was a “church-going Christian” and many people who used the Association’s “resources” had “no church affiliation”.  

Ringing the Changes    

The Boutwood era saw a number of changes for the Association.  Those changes can be summarised as follows:

  • There was a deliberate scaling down in the Association’s activities with a focus on spreading the Association’s messages, sowing seeds for others to cultivate and networking rather than on the growth of the Association and its branches
  • It was recognised that the national Committee members remained personally responsible for the finances and activities of the branches but that, in reality, they had neither the time nor resources to act as the governing body
  • In particular, the Association started to see itself as a catalyst for the formation of independent local groups which could be affiliated to the Association
  • New groups were increasingly encouraged to become independent charities and to be “affiliated” rather than branches of the Association; Hastings, Tower Hamlets, Forest, Brentwood and Chelmsford all became independent.  The number of branches reduced from 13 in 1995 to only 5 by 2001
  • Instead of having its own office premises, the Association reached agreements with other organisations to use their addresses as its registered office, postal address and meeting place; the addresses used were at St Edwards House, then the Holy Cross Centre followed by the Guild of Health and St Marylebone Parish Church 
  • In 1995, the Bishop of Ely, Rt Rev Stephen Sykes, and Professor Andrew Sims agreed to be the new Patrons of the Association
  • The name of the Association was changed to “The Association for Pastoral Care in Mental Health” (“APCMH”) following a decision of its members at the 1995 AGM
  • In 2001 APCMH was incorporated as a company limited by guarantee; this provided some protection for the members of the Association whose potential liability was limited to £1

Sowing More Seeds

It had always been an important part of the Association’s activities to spread the word about the importance of pastoral care in mental health and to sow seeds to be cultivated by others.  During the Boutwood era there was a greater emphasis on this aspect of the Association’s work.  One of Jeremy’s strengths was his networking skills.  He brought like-minded people together, valued each person’s contribution, listened to their ideas and, where appropriate, encouraged them to put their ideas into practice.  He was a natural networker and encourager.

During this period the Association arranged many conferences and seminars both nationally and locally, particularly in Guildford where Jeremy was very active on the local branch committee.  An example is the 8 session course in Guildford in 1998 “God be in my Head…..” which attracted a total of 480 attendances (i.e an average of 60 for each session).  There were numerous other awareness-raising days intended to stimulate local interest.  This became a major part of APCMH’s role.

It was also decided to produce publicity material including good practice as established by the branches.  These “fact sheets” are still publicised on the website and included information about setting up drop-ins (as in Croydon), befriending schemes (as in Hastings and Merton) and awareness-raising (as in Guildford). 

The newsletters continued to be distributed with a mailing list of about 400.  And a website was created so that others could also read about the Association and see the newsletters online.

A well-attended service was held at Southwark Cathedral on 20th October 1996 to celebrate the 10th Anniversary of the Association.  Bishop Stephen Sykes, as Patron of the Association, had prepared the sermon but was not able to attend so the Provost, Colin Slee, read it on his behalf.  Jeremy Boutwood also spoke about the Association. 

Bishop Stephen Sykes commissioned a video “With a Little Help from my Friends” in 1997 and produced material for Churches to use on World Mental Health Day 2000 both of these being done on behalf of APCMH.

But, possibly, the most significant example of Jeremy’s networking and APCMH’s seed-sowing was the part that he and the Association played in the establishment of the Spirituality and Mental Health Forum.   This was always Jeremy’s vision. 

As early as 1994, as Chair of APCMI as it then was, he convened a meeting of people from various organisations which were concerned with pastoral care and mental health.  The title used for the meeting was “Meeting the Need – Pastoral Care and Mentally-Ill People”.  17 people attended at the Crypt, St Marylebone Parish Church on 3rd November 1994.  Those present described their roles and the connection with pastoral care and mental health.  Though there seemed to be a general feeling that the meeting had been valuable, there was no follow-up at that time.

Finally, Jeremy (representing APCMH) convened another meeting entitled “Spirituality into Practice”.  It was held in the Crypt at St Marylebone Parish Church on 23rd May 2001.  9 people attended this meeting.  It was agreed to arrange a further meeting which was held on 28th November 2001 at the Mental Health Foundation under the chairmanship of Rev Dr Peter Sedgwick, Director of the Church of England Board for Social Responsibility.  At the end of that meeting it was agreed that “a forum be organised for the early summer, hopefully at the Sainsbury Centre under the sponsorship of Mentality”.  Lynne Friedli of Mentality was then approached and agreed to the first meeting of the forum being held at Mentality on 16th May 2002.  That Forum was called the “Spirituality and Mental Health Forum” which continues to the present day. 

Sadly Jeremy died on 29th September 2002 but he was able to express thoughts in his final Front Page Contribution to the October 2002 Newsletter (published after his death).  The title was “Celebrating the Voices Around Us” and the Boutwood era, as it came to an end,  can be summarised by quoting parts of his article. 

Jeremy started by quoting from a book by Revd John Foskett: “Once upon a time there was a great silence in the land of mental health, religion and spirituality: but now the voices are making themselves heard”.  Jeremy said that in the early 1980s people like John Foskett, chaplain at the Maudsley Hospital, and the Lindens were lone voices “in a wilderness in terms of understanding the basic human and spiritual needs of people with mental health problems.  But now there is an enormous amount going on and it is good to recognise and celebrate it.”  He then referred to a few examples and concluded:

“All these names and activities might seem to imply that APCMH is no longer special.  But, on the contrary, what we do in being alongside people is a sign that, at the end of the day, our vision – that Faith Communities should be places where people belong, where needs are recognised and met, and where people are encouraged to come together and to challenge, enlighten and enrich the community – a real statement that the Presence of God is here.  All these other voices are making this vision better understood at different levels and within a variety of professional and pastoral contexts.  May all the voices complement each other.” 

Jeremy has left us with that supplication and it seems appropriate to end the history of the Boutwood era by echoing the words “May all the voices complement each other”.  Amen.