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Who We AreOur History
  • How it all started

    Mary Frances Trust was established in 1994 and is named after the two people who founded it - Mary Edwards, a journalist and carer, and Frances Jones, a senior social worker.

    The two women met whilst serving together on the board of a housing association. They decided to set up 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.


    Photos: Mary Edwards (left) and Frances Jones (right), Founders of Mary Frances Trust.

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  • The Leatherhead Clubhouse

    They 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. Founding principles derived from the Clubhouse movement included: work-ordered day, user involvement, respectful and equal relationships between staff and members, a sense of ownership and community, enabling people to rebuild their confidence, self-esteem and develop social networks.

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  • 1997

    In 1997, Mary Frances Trust was awarded the Department of Health Voluntary Sector Award for Good Practice in Providing Mental Health Services. This was followed with ICCD accreditation in 1999 (Clubhouse International Accreditation).

    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. Key events include: the launch of a three-year project, the Wellbeing Project (part of Chances 4 Change) in 2008 funded by the Big Lottery Fund, to improve the health and wellbeing of people in the south of England, and the launch of a website in 2009 to give people more access to information about mental health.

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  • 2013

    In 2013, we became a lead for Community Connections Mental Health Services for the Mole Valley and the Epsom & Ewell areas.

    We developed new types of services, including changes to the Leatherhead Clubhouse to enable it to run more independently. The Butterfly café opened in Leatherhead in November 2014, we launched a new website, started a base of volunteers and introduced self-help groups for Bipolar and Hoarding. The self-help groups were set up to show people that support and practical help is out there and they’re not alone! Getting together with others who have a similar challenge can help ease stress and feelings of isolation.

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  • 2017

    From April 2017, Mary Frances Trust became one of three leads for the new Community Connections contract, enabling us to expand our services to cover the area of the Surrey Downs Clinical Commissioning Group, including Epsom & Ewell, Mole Valley, Banstead & East Elmbridge. The Safe Haven pilot project was launched in partnership with Surrey & Borders Partnership NHS Foundation Trust. The main aim of this service is to provide a safe space for people in emotional distress and prevent them from developing a full mental health crisis.

    Our Advisory group was initiated in June 2017. Through Co-Production, it recognises that everyone has a vital contribution to make, in improving the quality of life for people and communities, and has helped to shape our charity.

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  • July 2019

    In July 2019, we introduced an LGBTQ self-help group at our Leatherhead office, delivered in partnership with Pride in Surrey.

    It provides a safe, confidential, friendly and non-judgemental environment for people from the LGBTQ community to meet, share experiences and decide what the peer support group should become in the future to continue to support each other.

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  • September 2019

    Our 25th anniversary party at Denbies!

    2019 also marked the year of our 25th anniversary which we proudly celebrated on 21 September at Denbies, Dorking. The day was a wonderful celebration of all our achievements and a way to thank everyone who has contributed to our journey. Throughout the year, to mark our incredible legacy, we introduced lots of new activities and events for everyone to take part and enjoy, from our Big Mosaics and Patchwork projects, our first MFT calendar and first fundraising concert with Soundbytes, to our Art Exhibition at the Leatherhead Theatre and our bake sales.


    Photo: Councillor Mrs. Mary Sheldon, Mayor of Hersham, Patrick Wolter, CEO, Mary Frances Trust, and County Councillor for Epsom West Mrs. Bernie Muir – who is a Patron of the charity.



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  • 2020

    Fighting Stigma

    On top of supporting Surrey residents with their mental health and wellbeing, we believe we also need to take action to change society and campaign for greater awareness of mental health. We want to fight against stigma preventing people from seeking help. We launched our blog platform in February 2020 inviting clients, facilitators, volunteers and friends of MFT to share their mental health journey.

    Between December 2020 and September 2021, we produced and presented our own radio show, called The Wellbeing Hour, on Surrey Hills Radio to share genuine stories of people with lived experience.

    On 31 March 2021, we were awarded alongside Catalyst and Acting Out Productions/Let’s Link the partnership contract for Time to Change Surrey, a local campaign to end mental health stigma and discrimination in Surrey.

    In October 2022, the campaign was rebranded End Stigma Surrey. You can find out more about our campaign on the End Stigma Surrey website and social media channels.

    Find out more

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