Croydon APCMH is celebrating 30 years of providing mental health and wellbeing activities to Croydon residents.
On November 2, the Bishop of Southwark, after a generous gift from his Diocesan Lent Appeal will attend a celebration at St Mildred’s Community Centre, Addiscombe to celebrate all that the Croydon APCMH has achieved over the past 30 years.
The association has provided mental health and wellbeing services throughout the borough since 1989. Back then a small group of people from various churches and mental health charities in Croydon heard of a new nationwide initiative to support people with mental health issues pastorally and spiritually. They decided to form a group locally to further its aims and the Croydon APCMH was born.
Later that same year Father Andrew Wilson was appointed to the innovative new post of Community Mental Health Chaplain for Croydon Mental Health Services. The Community Care Bill of the previous year had introduced the move from long-term institutionalised mental health care, to more locally based support for people living at home or in residential units. (The 650 bed in-patient facility was finally replaced by provision for 70 beds in the Borough of Croydon, a number which is even lower now.)
The role of the Community Chaplain was to work to encourage and inform local churches and faith groups as this radical change took place, and so the birth of a local APCMH group was ‘heaven sent’ as an effective way of making strong links between mental health services and the community, planning local projects, like Drop-Ins, training and supporting volunteers, and eventually getting local authority funding for a part-time post of Development Worker.
The next year saw the opening of the first Drop-In, (finally called the Rainbow) which is still going strong on Monday evenings in the south of the Borough. Now two further Drop-Ins provide a warm welcome and safe space for members on Friday evenings and Sunday lunchtimes. A Women’s only lunchtime Drop-In on Tuesday answers another urgent need.
A significant change to the work APCMH do came when we were left a substantial legacy, (now all spent!) by a grateful member, whose childhood as an evacuee during the Second World War was marked with suffering and the end of any proper schooling. Her gift to APCMH was to be used to encourage the independence, and well-being of members, and so the Creative and Well-Being programme began.
APCMH still provides FREE, self refer, weekly drop-ins and groups for Art, Creative Writing, Meditation plus a Friday Eucharist with exploration of spiritual needs. Short term courses on well-being and self-care, regular talks and conferences also spread the word about the work they do. And despite ever diminishing funds, we are determined to maintain this important work for as long as we can!