PRESS RELEASE – Mary Frances Trust Celebrates 30 Years of Supporting the Wellbeing of the Surrey Community
Leatherhead, 12 February 2024
Surrey mental health and emotional wellbeing charity Mary Frances Trust (MFT) is celebrating 30 years of providing free, expert mental health support to adults in Surrey (aged 16+), experiencing any form of wellbeing issues.
Since 1994, Mary Frances Trust has grown from a local Clubhouse in Leatherhead into one of Surrey’s most respected mental wellbeing charities, now supporting around 2,300 residents every month through a variety of online and face-to-face services in Surrey Downs.
Mary Frances Trust also leads End Stigma Surrey, the local campaign against mental health stigma and discrimination, alongside partner organisations Catalyst and Acting Out Production.
How it began
Founded in 1994 by Journalist and Carer Mary Edwards, and Senior Social Worker Frances Jones – Mary Frances Trust was initially set up as a new resource in Leatherhead to support local people who used mental health services, to enable them to achieve their own particular goals and aspirations.
Mary and Frances began by looking at international models for inspiration and after visiting the Clubhouse in Malmo, Sweden, decided to set up a Clubhouse locally, where members and staff could work side by side making decisions together, creating a sense of ownership and community and enabling people to rebuild their confidence, self-esteem and develop social networks. By adopting the Clubhouse model, which was about working together with members to achieve a common goal, MFT was a true pioneer in starting its journey towards Co-Production, which still plays a huge part in the charity’s DNA today.
Through the following years, Mary Frances Trust continued to grow and expand, evolving from the original model to encompass the changes in mental health and new approaches in supporting people’s wellbeing.
Expansion into Community Connections
In 2013, Mary Frances Trust won its first Community Connections contract alongside five other partners. From April 2017, alongside Catalyst and Richmond Fellowship, Mary Frances Trust became one of three leads for the new Community Connections contract, enabling the charity to expand its services to cover the whole Surrey Downs area, including Epsom & Ewell, Mole Valley, Banstead and East Elmbridge.
As part of this contract, MFT offered a programme of wellbeing courses, groups and activities delivered face-to-face in the community and designed to restore and/or maintain the mental wellbeing of adults living in Surrey. Free wellbeing advice and information was also provided to support people with any practical issues affecting their wellbeing.
That same year, the Safe Haven pilot project was launched in partnership with Surrey & Borders Partnership NHS Foundation Trust to provide a safe space for people in emotional distress and prevent them from developing a full mental health crisis. Mary Frances Trust has been running the Epsom branch of Safe Haven ever since.
The biggest period of change for the charity started in 2020, the year of the pandemic, where MFT had to find new ways of delivering its vital community mental health support despite lockdown restrictions, while also being involved in wider changes to the mental health system in Surrey and nationally.
A few weeks into the first lockdown, MFT was one of the first mental health providers to launch a brand new online programme of activities to replace all their face-to-face activities. Virtual Safe Haven was also launched to enable people to access the crisis service without the need to travel.
Since then, the charity continues to run both online and face-to-face activities and Virtual Safe Haven is now officially part of their offer.
Supporting NHS England Mental Health Transformation Programme
Alongside partner organisations*, MFT has played an integral part in running pilots for the NHS England mental health transformation programme, which included changes in the way services were being provided. The main focus was to offer community-based services close to where people live and integrated into primary care settings with the option to step up to or down from secondary care services when needed.
Between 2020 and 2023, MFT launched three new services based in primary care settings:
- GP Integrated Mental Health Services (GPimhs): a specialist mental health service based at GP surgeries to support patients with mental health needs.
- Service User Network (SUN): a peer support service for people with complex emotions often associated with personality disorder.
- Severe Mental Illness Physical Health Liaison: a service MFT was asked to pilot to support people with severe mental illnesses to attend annual physical health checks at their GPs, after evidence showed that having a severe mental illness can put you at a higher risk of developing physical health problems and therefore decrease life expectancy.
Another focus on the NHS England Mental Health Transformation Programme was to move people out of mental health hospitals and support them to live well at home and in their community.
Since 2022, MFT has also been involved in the delivery of the following services:
- In-Reach: supporting people discharged from mental health hospitals to transition back to their home and community. Sadly this service will cease at the end of February 2024 due to lack of funding.
- Recovery & Connect: as part of the HomeFirst initiative, supporting people with complex mental health needs to stay and live well at home, and prevent hospital admissions.
In 2023, Mary Frances Trust was instrumental in setting up the Adults Mental Health Alliance (AMHA). The Alliance is an exciting new joint venture agreement between mental health providers in Surrey (including NHS, Surrey County Council and Voluntary Community and Social Enterprise) to work together to deliver more integrated and comprehensive mental health services for Surrey residents. The number one priority for the Alliance is to make it easier for people to get help as soon as they need it and really easily.
That same year, Mary Frances Trust also led the development of a new Financial and Wellbeing Support Service in Epsom and Ewell in partnership with Citizens Advice Epsom & Ewell. The service also operates in Surrey Heath where it is delivered by Catalyst and Citizens Advice Surrey Heath. The pilot, funded by the National Lottery Community Fund, is there to support people with both financial and wellbeing issues.
Mental Health Awareness Campaigns
As well as providing key mental health services in Surrey, Mary Frances Trust also actively campaigns for greater mental health awareness and breaking down stigma and discrimination associated with having a mental health issue or diagnosis. In 2020, they launched a blog platform open to their clients, volunteers, staff and supporters to share honest accounts of mental health journeys told from the perspective of people with lived experience of mental health.
In 2021, MFT was one of three providers to win the new Time to Change Surrey contract (now called End Stigma Surrey). End Stigma Surrey is the local campaign and programme to raise awareness and reduce stigma around mental health. The campaign is commissioned by Surrey County Council Public Health and delivered by three partner organisations: Mary Frances Trust, Catalyst and Acting Out Productions.
Patrick Wolter, Chief Executive, Mary Frances Trust:
“For the past 30 years, Mary Frances Trust has gone from strength to strength and adapted to changing times to continue to provide vital mental health and wellbeing support to the Surrey community. Starting from a very local mental health support group, it has slowly become a key player in the mental health sector in Surrey at every level, now providing FREE first-class community services as well as primary and secondary care services to cater for all mental health needs.
Our job is not done yet. As a voluntary sector organisation, we see our role increasing in supporting the Surrey Integrated Care Board, working with our colleagues from NHS and the local authority as we share our common vision for Surrey residents.”
Notes to editors
1. Mary Frances Trust is a leading mental health and emotional wellbeing charity for Surrey residents (aged 16+), established in 1994.
2. As part of our Community Connections service, we provide individual goal setting sessions, wellbeing activities, courses and groups, peer support as well as wellbeing advice and information.
3. We also offer crisis support at our Safe Haven in Epsom every evening of the year, SUN (a service for people with complex emotions often associated with personality disorders) and a variety of more focussed 1-2-1 support schemes in both GP surgeries and local hospitals for clients with more complex mental health needs, often working with other national and community partners to support these clients. We also provide a Financial and Wellbeing Support Service for residents of Epsom & Ewell.
4. For a list of our services, please visit: http://www.maryfrancestrust.org.uk/how-we-help/
5. MFT currently supports over 2,300 Surrey residents every month through a variety of online and face-to-face services in Banstead, Elmbridge, Epsom & Ewell and Mole Valley.
6. All services are free with no waiting lists. You do not need to have a mental health diagnosis to access MFT services. Some of our services are self-referrals (Community Connections, Wellbeing Advice and Information, Safe Haven, SUN and Financial and Wellbeing Support Service). To access GPImhs,SMI Physical Health Liaison, In-Reach and Recovery & Connect, you need to be referred to MFT by a health professional.
7. We help people with all types of mental health and emotional wellbeing issues from depression, anxiety, low mood, isolation, hoarding, bipolar, personality disorders and other serious mental health conditions.
8. *Partner organisations we run some of our services with include: Surrey and Borders NHS Foundation Trust (SABP), Catalyst Support and Richmond Fellowship. The Financial and Wellbeing Support Service is run in partnership with Citizens Advice Epsom & Ewell and Citizens Advice Surrey Heath.
For more information or to set up interviews please contact:
Connie Ridout, Communications Lead, Mary Frances Trust