30 years since its unlikely launch in Hulme Crescents, radical charity marks World Mental Health Day
As the 1980s drew to a close against a backdrop of declining employment and renewed optimism - not to mention the burgeoning ‘Madchester’ - Hulme Crescents had a renaissance of their own. Although the council had long stopped collecting rent for the infamous development, its electricity remained on and ‘Europe’s worst housing stock’ became an unlikely refuge for artists, photographers, musicians, students and crusties.
But it wasn’t all rosy. After all, this was one of Britain’s most deprived areas and hidden amongst this vibrant community were vulnerable people. Placed in these ‘hard to let tenancies’ alongside locals who had no other choice on where to live, many suffered with poor mental health and struggled to access suitable support; leading to a ‘revolving door’ of hospital admission, discharge and re-admission.
It was in this environment, one of both clear suffering and creative enterprise, that a group of like-minded individuals decided to tackle the underlying factors impacting on local people’s mental health. Comprised of everyone from church clergy to elders, community workers and local activists, they formed Hulme Action Research Project (HARP) and moved into the building that would later become Z- Arts.
Accepting referrals from various outlets and adopting a ‘radical’ listening approach, HARP soon established some common causes: poor accommodation, money or benefit problems and lack of social support. After raising funds, they not only employed people with relevant experience but continued to create a welcoming space for people to drop in. Later a café was opened and HARP moved into the Zion Community Resource Centre - going on to more than triple in size, win a clutch of awards and open a Young Adult Services Project (YASP) in Levenshulme with similar format. In 2011, recognising a gap in national mental health charity Mind’s network, HARP successfully acquired affiliation to become Manchester Mind.
Three decades later, HARP’s original values continue to be the driving force for a team of 60-plus staff who now operate as Manchester Mind. Still mostly based in Hulme, the independent charity provides mental health support for over 6500 people per year across the whole city region, and marks its 30th anniversary this year.
One in every four of us experience a mental health problem in the UK each year and, unsurprisingly, the underlying issues remain unchanged 30 years on. Worries about money, jobs and benefits are being exacerbated by an acute lack of mental health services and support, making it harder for people to cope. This is evidenced by an increase in the number of people who self-harm or have suicidal thoughts, meaning the need for independent organisations like Manchester Mind is greater now than ever before.
Want to show your support? The charity will be marking its 30th anniversary with a series of events and activities throughout 2019/20 - kicking off with an open day on World Mental Health Day, Thursday 10th October.
There are also many ways to get involved with the charity’s work, from volunteering to fundraising. Or text MM30YEARS to 70085 and donate £3 to help Manchester Mind provide free healthy meals to people in need at its community café.
Find out more about Manchester Mind on the website
Some national mental health and awareness events
Baby Loss Awareness Week: 9th - 15th October
Manchester Cathedral will turn its clock pink and blue to mark the occasion
World Mental Health Day: Thursday 10th October 2019
RED January launch: October 2019
National Stress Awareness Day: Wednesday 6th November 2019
Anti-Bullying Week: 11th - 15th November 2019
Time to Talk Day: 6th February 2010
Mindful March: March 2020
Mental Health Awareness Week: 18th - 24th May 2020
Volunteers’ Week: 1st -7th June 2020