History of York Mind

York Mind was formed in 2011 by the merger of Our Celebration and York & District Mind. At the time the two organisations had a combined age of 84 years and had already helped thousands of local people in their recovery from mental ill-health.

Our Celebration

Our Celebration started off in 1985 in the home of its founder, Emmy Burdon.

In those days, people living with a severe mental illness often spent time in hospital to get well, only to be discharged into the community with very little to keep them occupied or motivated.

After seeing this cycle of hospital treatment / discharge / isolation / relapse and back into hospital happen so many times, Emmy decided to start a support group in her own home that would give people some routine, a purpose, and importantly, a chance to socialise and be with other people.

In the early days, the group focused mainly on making things that could be sold – Christmas crackers and needlecraft items – it was a simple idea but it worked!

With this initial success, Emmy and her supporters worked determinedly to develop the organisation further, to influence local priorities and provide a safety net for some of the most excluded and vulnerable people within our community. Over the years they secured contracts with a variety of funders, developed a learning and mentoring programme and expanded on its original client base of those living with schizophrenia, to include people recovering from a whole variety of mental illnesses.

In 1997, after much hard work a grant was secured from the National Lottery to build Highcliffe House, giving the organisation some security for the future and allowing them to develop their ability to help even further.

National Mind

Mind was originally known as ‘The National Association for Mental Health (NAMH)’ or ‘the Association’ this was established in 1946 by the merging of three major mental health organisations. In 1972, the name ‘MIND’ was adopted; and then changed again in the nineties to ‘Mind’.

Mind operates as a national body to which smaller organisations, pay a fee to affiliate too, by affiliating to the national body these smaller organisations gain the benefits of being part of a large national organisation but are also able to keep their independence, for example shared insurance, networking with like minded organisations and the ability to lobby national government.

Each local Mind association is an independent charity run by local people, for local people. Each is responsible for its own funding and the services it provides, but all are affiliated to Mind. This affiliation ensures that each local organisation meets Mind’s quality standards of governance and service delivery, and that they work to further the shared mission.

Local Mind Associations (LMA’s) respond to issues within their communities in a range of ways, including:

• involvement in the planning of local mental health services

• local campaigning on mental health issues, linking with Mind’s national campaign work

• activities aimed to raise awareness of, and change attitudes towards, mental health.

York & District Mind

York & District Mind affiliated to National Mind in 1956 and has been an independent self-governing, self-funding organisation since then. First registering as a charity in 1972 and later becoming a company limited by guarantee in 1994 whilst retaining it’s charitable status. They were funded in part by grant aid from local statutory bodies, but also relied heavily on their own fundraising initiatives and on individual donations from the community in order to continue their important work.

Their mission is to eradicate social exclusion, discrimination and impoverishment on the basis of mental health and to uphold an individuals’ right to fulfil their potential without hindrance through stigma and prejudice.

The main activities of the organisation revolved around supporting the mission statement and included self-help groups, counselling, advocacy, befriending and the provision of an information line.

The Merging of two Mental Health Charities

The development of the ‘Recovery Model’ for mental health over the past few years has led to significant change in how many mental health services are set up and structured.

In addition to this change in the way mental health services operated, like any small locally-based charities, both York and District Mind and Our Celebration were being affected by cuts in funding which came to us from local authority and NHS contracts and wider economic changes.

Due to these two factors a merger was agreed between Our Celebration and York & District Mind in order to prevent the services they provided from being lost completely to the vulnerable people in and around York who need them. The merging of the two charities places us in a stronger position when developing and funding services in the future.

The merger took place and was completed on 1st April 2011. The staff and services that were delivered at Castlegate in the centre of the city relocated and moved to Highcliffe House. For an interim period the organisation was known as Mind@Our Celebration before it changed its name to York Mind in January 2012.