Aspects of ‘Being Alongside’ – our annual conference for 2024, on Sat 9 March

Our annual conference this year will focus on different ways we can ‘be alongside’ those in need – with examples from across the charity’s affiliated organisations and beyond.

The free event will feature guest speakers including:

• Dr Larry Culliford, Co-Founder of the Royal College of Psychiatrists’ Spirituality and Psychiatry Special Interest Group
• Canon Andrew Wilson, Chair of Croydon APCMH

The event takes place on Saturday 9 March 2024, beginning at 11.00am and finishing at around 3.00pm. Our venue will be St Peter’s Church Hall on Plough Road in Battersea, just a few minutes’ walk from Clapham Junction stations (Grant Road exit, then down right down Plough Road towards the Thames).

This conference is the fourth in our recent series and will offer the chance to hear from a number of projects helping people with mental health difficulties, from befriending partnerships to drop-in activities, and less formal community initiatives. We hope to both inform and inspire, offering details of how Being Alongside may also be able to help with seed corn funding for new local projects.

All our events seek to reflect the importance the charity places on ‘being alongside’ those experiencing mental health difficulties, and the role of supportive pastoral care as part of holistic treatment.

Tea and coffee will be served from 10.45am, and a buffet sandwich lunch will also be available. Cash donations are invited on the day to cover the cost of this catering; the day itself is entirely free.

Please note that while all are welcome, this is a conference setting and we are not able to offer professional support to individuals in this context.

For more details and to reserve your free place please contact Lucy Roose at or on 07496 909828.

Launch of grant scheme for local projects

Being Alongside is pleased to announce the launch of a scheme to offer direct financial support to churches and other organisations looking to set up initiatives to help people experiencing mental health difficulties.

Being Alongside’s trustees have agreed to give away up to £20,000 over the next two years, with the aim of expanding the number of drop-in café style projects and befriending schemes across the country.

Local organisers within the UK are invited to submit applications for up to £2,000 to support the establishment of such projects, to help cover the costs of expenses like room hire, publicity and refreshments.

The grants could also be used to fund research into the needs of the local area, and how those with poor mental health could be best reached.

The trustees recognise that £2,000 is not a huge amount of money, but our hope is that it may make all the difference in getting a project off the ground – particularly if it can be match funded by other sources.

The two project types – befriending schemes which match those experiencing poor mental help with a volunteer who meets with them on a regular basis; and drop-in café style projects which provide a safe and reliable space for people to come together – have been selected as the primary focus of the grants, given the success of these projects elsewhere and Being Alongside’s ability to provide practical advice to those looking to set up such initiatives.

Projects based in any part of the United Kingdom interested in applying for funding are invited to submit an application by completing the simple form below, and submitting it to our Administrator via the address given on the form. The form includes guidance notes explaining what information the trustees are seeking to understand when considering applications.

Applications will be considered by a sub-committee of trustees on a quarterly basis, and we will keep applicants updated on progress. We will then seek to stay in touch with the projects to which we award a grant, to offer wider support drawing on the experiences of our branches and affiliates.

Potential applicants with any queries about the scheme are encouraged to contact our Administrator, Lucy Roose.

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.

Continue reading “History of APCMH/Being Alongside”

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.

Continue reading “Thank you Pam!”

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