Richmond Borough Mind (formally Richmond Borough Association for Mental Health) was formed out of a merger in 2002 between Twickenham Association for Mental Health and Richmond & Barnes Association for Mental Health.

Below is a brief history of the charity and its predecessors, the services offered and the changes experienced over the years.

Twickenham Mind

Twickenham Association for Mental Health (Twickenham Mind) came into existence in 1959. For many years it operated on a purely voluntary basis offering for example drop-in coffee mornings and lifts for carers to outlying psychiatric hospitals serving Richmond. As it expanded it acquired a charity shop. Then, as care in the community began to be seen as the right approach for those who no longer needed continuing care in a hospital environment, it ran group homes for people in mental distress, later transferred to the Richmond Churches Housing Trust. 

By 1975, Twickenham Mind was able to acquire a Victorian terraced house that had become a run down grocer’s shop in Twickenham. Twickenham Mind converted this property and it became a drop-in centre – Centre 32 – initially run by volunteers, but later, as the charity’s finances improved, with its own staff. It continued to run as a drop-in centre until 2009 and it is still being used for one-to-one sessions with clients by appointment. 

Richmond and Barnes Mind

Richmond & Barnes Mind was founded in 1971 at a time of great advance in the treatment of people suffering from mental distress and the coming of community care. Its early projects included three group homes offering people previously in psychiatric hospitals a place to stay as they slowly re-integrated themselves within the community.

To help with funds, clothing and bedding, a ‘Nearly New Shop’ was opened in Sheen Road, Richmond, to raise funds to support people with mental health problems. The premises also accommodated a carers’ support group, now part of the wider Carers’ in Mind Project. As people no longer in hospital had nowhere to go during the day or in the evenings, an evening drop in ‘Tuesday Club’ was started in the shop premises.

The Vineyard Centre

In 1977, the Minister of the Vineyard Congregational Church wanted to open the crypt of the church as a drop-in centre for lonely people. His work as a probation officer had made him aware of the need for such a centre. However, the Minister lacked the funds to open the drop-in-centre, but Richmond & Barnes Mind seized upon the opportunity to lease the church crypt and open a centre for the ‘healing of loneliness’ and a place where points of need and sources of help could meet. The centre was open to anyone who wanted to get involved: Richmond & Barnes Mind clients, probation clients and anyone lonely in the local community who wanted to take part. The centre – in the basement of the Church in The Vineyard on Richmond Hill – became the Vineyard Project. This provided a safe, welcoming and friendly place with practical help, therapies and activities for a wide range of people; these included the homeless and other vulnerable people on the margins of society. 

For more than 30 years the Vineyard project supported many hundreds of people experiencing homelessness, mental distress and social isolation in the Richmond area. Over the years it became increasingly difficult to secure sufficient funding to cover the running costs of the project and RB Mind was extremely saddened to announce in 2011 it could no longer afford to keep the Vineyard Project open.

However after the closure the deep concern of local churches and many in the community about those who need help in the area led to the formation of a new charity called the Vineyard Community Centre. This charity is now responsible for running the Centre. For more information contact Desiree Shepherd, Centre Manager, on 020 8439 9735 or [email protected]

The local community has always played a huge part in supporting and running the Vineyard Project. RB Mind would like to take this opportunity to thank all the people from the local community who have supported the Vineyard Project over the years – many generous individuals, churches, schools, companies and a great number of dedicated volunteers have enabled the Vineyard Project to run for such a long time.

Ham Friends

In 1999, Ham Friends, a local authority drop-in centre was threatened with closure and RB Mind undertook to manage the project with the support from the local authority. Ham Friends was a drop-in Centre situated in an isolated part of the Borough and it provided meals, social activities and support. Ham Friends as a drop-in service closed doors in 2010 following the modernisation of RB Mind’s day services. 

The Counselling Service

In 1988 a Counselling Service was developed, using well-supervised volunteer counsellors in the last stages of their training. It moved to the Richmond Healthcare Hamlet in 1990, where free counselling accommodation was provided. The Counselling Service has a good record of helping its clients and remains an important part of the portfolio of services offered by Richmond Borough Mind today.

The Social Centre now known as the Wellbeing Centre
In 1989 Richmond & Barnes Mind took over the management of the Social Centre at the Richmond Royal Hospital to provide meals, activities and company for people referred by the Richmond Community Mental Health Team. The Centre was initially run by volunteers. In 2002 after the re-development of the Richmond Royal, modern accommodation was provided and the centre started to employ two part-time workers.  This Centre also hosted the Tuesday evening drop-in (The Tuesday Club) which closed in 2007.

In June 2011, following extensive consultative work with Service Users, it was decided that the centre would change its name to reflect the increased focus on recovery based activities that was taking place there. Hence the Social Centre is now known as The Wellbeing Centre. 

The Merger

At their respective AGMs in July 2000, Twickenham Association for Mental Health and Richmond & Barnes Association for Mental Health announced their intention to merge to form one organisation covering both sides of the river. Given the fact that the two organisations play a significant role in the delivery of mental health services in the Borough of Richmond-upon-Thames, the Borough agreed to finance an organisational review by Brookside Associates to ascertain the strengths, weakness and capacity of this combined group. A number of recommendations were put forward in January 2001. The subsequent merger was initiated on 1 November 2001. The newly merged organisation was set up as ‘Richmond Borough Association for Mental Health’ and has received approval from both the Charity Commission and from National Mind, with whom we are affiliated. It is commonly known as Richmond Borough Mind.

Since the Merger

The merger gave Richmond Borough Mind, for the first time, a part-time Director, a post which subsequently became full-time. This made possible both the integration of staff in the existing projects into a single team, a greater professionalization of policies and practice in line with changes in national thinking about mental health, and stronger partnerships with both the local statutory services and others in the voluntary sector.

With support from statutory bodies, local  and national charitable trusts and many other sources,  modernisation of the existing drop-in services began with a greater emphasis on user participation and activity in the community. New part-time drop-ins were started at the Maddison Clinic – ‘Maddison ‘n Mind’ and the Old Bakery in Mortlake – ‘Mind ‘n Mortlake’. A pilot project to provide daytime and weekend activities in Lavender Ward at Roehampton hospital was a success, but funding did not continue. A grant was received to encourage peer groups among service users and facilitate other changes in the day services provided.

Other services  – the carers and counselling services – have been funded from statutory sources to  expand to meet  growing demand. In 2008 RB Mind took on a new community development project under the Government’s Delivering Race Equality in Mental Healthcare. Under this two community development workers worked with the local black and minority ethnic communities to improve their understanding of and access to local mental health services. Also, funded by two charitable trusts, a Time Bank in Richmond with a special emphasis on offering opportunities for befriending and wider involvement in the community for those in mental distress was started.

Through the constant evolution of Mental Health services, RB Mind has slowly nurtured a long term change management programme seeking to modernize the way it provides mental health services in the community, particularly focusing on areas such as peer-support through RB Mind’s Peer Group Network and the Ecotherapy Project. Part of this programme also led to the closure of many of RB Mind’s historical drop-in services. 

For more information on the history of RB Mind and Mental Health Heritage in Richmond over the past 50 years please visit our Reflection page by clicking here.