How it all began
In 1984, a group of mental health professionals identified a serious lack of support in the Andover area for adults with severe mental illness. A small support group was started under the name of Andover Mental Health Club. It was set up by two Community Psychiatric nurses (CPNs) Maggie Roberts and Vick Ramchurn, was situated in a bungalow in Admiral’s Way and ran twice a week. The demand was strong and the response was so encouraging that more volunteers were recruited, some of whom provided transport for service users from outlying villages.
Onwards and upwards
As the group grew, it was recognised that a more formal structure was needed. Vick introduced Brenda Grimsdale, an influential local person, who had experience of mental illness from the point of view of a carer. A steering group was set up and managed by Brenda. A further venue and group was set up at St Michaels Church Hall with increased numbers and more volunteers. The new group provided hot meals with the help of some very important volunteers, including Kath Cable, her friend Mandy Smith and Pat Trickett. The CPN’s continued to support the group and volunteers. Both venues ran together for a time however after about two years the Admiral’s Way bungalow was decommissioned.
Brenda had a great deal of influence locally and raised funds for the group. Under her charge, the steering group grew and developed. The Mental Health Club became affiliated to national Mind in 1986, being granted the title of Andover Mind and obtained charitable status in the same year. Funding was obtained to rent and convert suitable accommodation and recruit some paid staff. At this time, the organisation also obtained Limited Company status and became accepted as an essential part of mental health care in the area. Brenda Grimsdale managed the service until she retired in 2000 and Pat Trickett took on the role.
Where we are now?
Andover Mind still occupies the same central premises in Andover, which have been substantially upgraded and improved over the years to create a welcoming space for the local community.
In recent years, Andover Mind has considerably widened its reach to meet the needs of Hampshire residents and now operates well-being centres in Andover, Romsey, Basingstoke and Farnborough as well as a county wide service for carers and people with dementia.