The main article in the Spring 2017 issue of Being Alongside is a detailed portrait of our Croydon offshoot, which is still there providing stability and spiritual sustenance 30 years after it was established in the heady early days of the Association for the Pastoral Care of the Mentally Ill, as we were originally known. Operating a completely open-door policy, Croydon APCMH offers an impressively wide range of services and activities at three locations around the borough, thanks to a dedicated team of volunteers and staff. We hear about what it takes to keep it all going from project co-ordinator Millie Reid and vice chair Revd Canon Andrew Wilson, who has been there from the start.
Also featured in the Spring issue are Sean Kennedy’s reflections on living with a dual diagnosis of addiction and mental health issues; and further excerpts from the retreat diary of our chairman Jamie Summers, in which we find him challenged by Jean Vanier’s ability to forgive.
Our Merton & Sutton branch is putting out a call for people who might be interested in volunteering to befriend persons with mental health problems living in the community in the south London boroughs of Merton and Sutton.
“Befriending takes just a few hours every 2 or 3 weeks,” says branch chair David Roe, “and your help is really valued. It is rewarding to make a difference to someone in need of a friend.”
The branch provides all the training and support that volunteers need.
The next short free training course takes place on Saturday March 18th (daytime) and Wednesday March 22nd (evening) at a venue in central Wimbledon.
PEOPLE in Arnold, a suburb of Nottingham, now have a friendly place to go for information, help and companionship every Friday thanks to a new drop-in organised by Arnold Methodist Church Mental Health Befriending and Support Group.
The drop-in was already running for four weeks before it was officially launched on September 9th by the mayor of Gedling, Councillor Sandra Barnes. To judge by the numbers attending, it clearly meets a need, with around 60 people turning up for each of the first month’s sessions.
Sue Clayton, a Being Alongside / APCMH member who has acted as a carer and had experience of depression herself, is co-ordinating the new drop-in. “We have recruited 20 volunteers from our church and other churches,” she said.” Some have had professional training, as therapists and nurses. The chair of the local bi-polar association is volunteering, as are several members of the community who have lived and personal experience of mental health issues.”
In addition to support from its local NHS trust and local authority, the Arnold drop-in has received an initial grant of £500 from BA / APCMH to help cover setup costs. It is in discussion with our trustees regarding the possibility of further funding and of affiliating to the association.
“We would like to express our enormous thanks for the donation,” said Sue. “We have used it to buy games and other equipment for the running of the weekly group.” She added: “We give thanks, praise and glory to the Lord for making his will known to us for establishing this project and providing the people, the means, the finance and the expertise of so many people to enable this to become a reality. We feel privileged as a church community to be given this opportunity in Nottingham.”
PURSUING ITS MISSION to support the educational aspirations and careers of those who have experienced serious mental health difficulties, the Bishop Stephen Sykes bursary has provided £400 to a young man studying in Scotland to cover the cost of buying a new laptop—an essential tool for study these days.
BA / APCMH trustees granted the funds after hearing that the applicant was finding it difficult to continue his studies because his old laptop had broken down and was unusable. The application was accompanied by letters from the university and a support worker commending the student’s tenacity in continuing to pursue his studies despite having had a number of setbacks.
Trustees were pleased to hear this, and sent their good wishes and encouragement along with the bursary’s financial support.
The main activity of the Forest Hill branch is running a drop-in session every Wednesday evening at St. Saviour’s Church Hall, Brockley Rise, offering refreshments, chat and a friendly welcome for all. The drop-in has run weekly since May 1987.
The branch complements its regular drop-in with occasional outings, such as to Hastings, Worth Abbey and Leeds Castle, as well as barbecues in the church grounds. These are greatly appreciated by members. The grant will go towards paying for these events, as well the costs of training volunteers for the drop-in.
MEMBERS from around the country have been sending in their responses to the survey which we enclosed with the Spring issue of Being Alongside magazine.
The survey consisted of 14 questions, including how members first heard of our organisation; why they chose to support us; what they thought of our magazine and website; how they thought we should promote ourselves; and where we should concentrate our efforts.
On average, people ticked between two and three reasons for becoming a supporter. About half chose the first three options: “For my own wellbeing”, “Experienced mental ill health myself” and “Family members who have experiencedmental illness”. One-third indicated that they were carers.
Other factors included the work members do; the link between mental health and spirituality; and bringing together carers and sufferers. People heard about BA/APCMH via many sources: 14% were via their church and 20% via friends or their profession. Other sources mentioned were Christian Advert magazine, Guild of Health, CRE, Rethink, Diocesan Directory, a Jean Vanier talk, Open Door, APCMH branches, libraries and colleges.
Appreciation of the magazine was widespread, with 88% saying that they valued receiving and reading it highly, and only 7% saying that they didn’t read it. Lots of useful comments were made regarding the organisation as a whole and how we could promote ourselves more effectively. A selection of these is reproduced opposite.
Trustee Nick Cotton, who has been collating the survey results, says: “We’re very grateful to everyone who took the trouble to complete the survey, and would welcome any more that haven’t been returned yet, so if you haven’t filled it in, please do! Every comment will be read and valued.”