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.

SHORT HISTORY OF THE ASSOCIATION FOR PASTORAL CARE IN MENTAL HEALTH

(NOW KNOWN AS “BEING ALONGSIDE”)

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

BRIGHT BEGINNINGS

Background.

 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.

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Thank you Pam!

A tribute to Pam Freeman, by Jamie Summers

At the April AGM, after some 35 years of active involvement in our little charity, Pam felt it was time to step down as Co-ordinator and Trustee. Already she is much missed.

I have only known Pam for 26 years, starting my connection at the September 1995 AGM when we were the Association for the Pastoral Care of the Mentally Ill. There was an inspiring seminar that November when the triumvirate of Pam, Jeremy Boutwood and John Vallat spoke of their lives at the Guild of Health offices in Queen Anne Street. Indeed, Pam was also a Trustee of the Guild of Health and we later shared their offices with them. It was then that I became entwined with the aims and ethos of APCMI. At the Hammersmith & Fulham MIND’s Consumer Forum Sunday gathering, Jeremy and Pam came to speak to us on 25th February 1996 – I was the development worker for this ‘user group’ and vividly recall Pam telling us how she found God in a field of wild flowers.

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Introducing myself

I am delighted to introduce myself as the new part-time Administrator for Being Alongside.  I have worked as an administrator and office manager for many years, my last role being with another small charity working with families of children with a terminal neuro-degenerative condition.  I have spent the last three years training for ordination and was ordained into the Church of England as a deacon in early July.  I will combine my work for Being Alongside with my part-time curacy in two villages in Hampshire.  I have three children, two of whom have chronic health conditions which has given me a passion for ensuring mental health is as much a subject for discussion as physical health; that it is “okay not to be okay”; and that kindness, love and compassion towards one another is more important than anything.  I am delighted to be able to follow my vocation in the Church at the same time as using my charity management skills to promote the importance of spiritual care for all those living with mental health challenges.  I look forward to working with you and for you.

Lucy Roose