Follow by e-mail

Friday, 23 December 2011

Mind charity shops and NAMH

More views of - or after - Cambridge Film Festival 2011
(Click here to go directly to the Festival web-site)

23 December 2011 (updated 2 February 2013, 11 January 2015)

Seeing Paul Farmer's Tweet, I gave him the opportunity to comment. He did not do so (until 11 months later, when asked again...).

You will know the national charity Mind (it sometimes claims to be the leading UK mental-health charity, but Rethink and the Mental Health Foundation may not agree).

Some places where people live have a local Mind charity shop: the common misconception (which, for all that I know, some obscure notice on the premises may allegedly clarify, if you knew that it is there) is that giving items to or otherwise supporting the shop supports people locally who have mental-health issues (rather than Mind itself, the national body).

Some people also assume that 'Mind' means something, and write it 'MIND', as if it were an acronym, but it is actually just a trading-name that stuck to and was kept by what is really the National Association for Mental Health (or NAMH).

So, to summarize, Mind is really NAMH, and Mind charity shops don't support the Mind named after your area, e.g. West Norfolk Mind (if there is one and you lived there).

Now, other charities, say Red Cross, may be set up the same way - I don't know - but, in Mind's case, it's just several assumptions that it would be easy enough to prevent people making, if it mattered enough to stop them.

Now one wild, further, improbable step: imagine East Cambridge Mind (there isn't one, but let's call it ECM) providing services in the voluntary sector, receiving grants and funding, etc. They might offer somewhere where, using Mind's favoured terms, those with a personal experience of 'mental distress' can come for a coffee at certain times of the week.

Or there might be free counselling, or the artificial buddying known as befriending, where a volunteer commits to meet with a member of ECM every so often to allow social things like going for a walk or having a drink (maybe one then the other) that might seem harder to do on one's own. Services, anyway, that need staff and volunteers.

Mind doesn't employ the staff or manage the volunteers, because Mind (as NAMH) is a separate company. ECM is another. Mind lets ECM use the Mind name by agreeing to let it subscribe to be a Local Mind Association (or LMA).

OK, so Mind where you live will be a company (usually limited by guarantee) registered at Companies House. NAMH is another one, so they are separate, except for NAMH letting ECM have Mind in its name.

ECM subscribes (pays a subscription, amongst other things) to do that, but it remains separate. Two companies, never the twain shall meet, although national Mind does require these LMAs (such as ECM) to meet quality standards. The assessment, though, is largely on the basis of self-certification.

So to establish that, say, ECM supervises its staff regularly (maybe monthly) for that quality standard, what Mind actually does is to get ECM to fill in a series of forms that state how, where and when supervision takes place and is recorded. For example, ECM sets out how the manager meets the employee or volunteer every x weeks, spends at least y hours with him or her without interruption, and makes sure that z specified issues are discussed every time.

No other check is made - it may not happen at all, or, at least as often or as well as certified. As far as Mind is concerned, ECM is meeting the quality standard, just because it says that it is meeting the quality standard. That's fine, of course.

Or might you be saying this?:

Isn't ECM employing or having as volunteers people who work with vulnerable people, some of whom may be vulnerable people themselves, seeking 'to give something back'?

That's true.

OK, so aren't there at least three people's interests to protect?

(a) The person receiving a service through ECM;
(b) The person giving a service on behalf of ECM;
(c) The other staff / volunteers of ECM?

Yes, that's right.

And, in fact, isn't there a fourth (maybe a fifth) set of interests?

(d) The carers / relatives / friends of the person receiving a service (or those who otherwise come into contact with the staff and volunteers of ECM)?

You're still right, and some of those are the ones who are not disabused as to what they are supporting with Mind charity shops, too.

So, if something goes wrong, if a volunteer or an employee (or all of them) is not being supervised, and Mind is just being told that they are, it will want to know and will take action?

No, Mind just believes what it's told - it actually has no mechanism for an employee to go to it and complain of not being supervised, because it will just direct him or her back to ECM. ECM is a company, Mind is a company (NAMH), and, despite ECM subscribing to Mind, Mind says that it has no control over ECM.

It remains an internal matter to resolve with ECM, even if the staff member or volunteer is vulnerable because of mental distress, and is less well placed to challenge ECM's company approach or adherence to quality standards or its procedures. Mind will not help or get involved - the aggrieved person, who is not being supervised properly and / or regularly, must raise a grievance.

But that's OK, isn't it? It fits with the slogan (it's for For better mental health, isn't it?), and is just the model of governance you expect from the Mind name.

Good, knew you'd be happy - merry Christmas!

No comments: