OUR INCEPTION AND WHY WE GIVE BACK.
"You can't take charity when you're struggling, and not give back when you're not. " Chris Stewart
The formation of Minding Minds, and the raising of the funds to train our first MHFA and MD Chris Stewart, was a beautiful example of peoples good will, and extreme generosity.
Chris has always worked within the mental health and substance misuse sector, since getting into recovery from Alcoholism in 2005.
Chris says :
"It seemed the natural place for me. I had suffered from Bi-polar two and GAD since the age of twelve, and had self medicated with alcohol for years.
The people I got to work with felt like my tribe. I had to give back to others with the same support that others had shown me."
Chris worked in front line treatment for Turning Point, and went on to devise and implement an alcohol service for West Berkshire for the NHS alongside TP.
"We helped a lot of people, some of whom have gone on to live amazingly generous lives. The power of recovery whether from Mental Health issues or associated substance misuse, never ceases to amaze me."
Chris went on to work in the media for Turning Point and as guest expert on BBC Breakfast.
After a short spell in private practice Chris moved to Barbados and worked on the planning of a new rehab.
However after a particularly bad relapse in mental health Chris was forced to return to the UK and regain his wellbeing.
One day after seeing a good friend Josh Connolly ( ) talk about his experience of talking on the MHFA instructor course Chris knew he had to do this, but just didn't have the money to be able to afford the training.
Two months and one crowdfunding appeal later Chris was blown away by the generosity of friends and complete strangers, who had responded to various media appeals.However fund raising had plateaued at £1,500 and was still a deal short of the £3,000 target.
A charity collection bucket had been bought and the next step was facing the great and the good of Wiltshire. But...
A random message came in from a friend who was out in South America at the time. He offered not only to cover the remaining training fees, but to cover the start up costs. No interest. No terms.
Minding Minds was born completely from the generosity of others.
"We simply had to find a way to give beck the generosity that others had shown us. I had to find a method of pay back that reflected the support shown us."
" The £1,500 that I had crowd funded would be repaid by offering 5 free spaces to charities on my courses in year one of instructing on MHFA courses.
The same would happen in year two and so on. Paying back the generosity of my friend who backing me was a little more complex however.
We eventually decided that we would interview and employ people who would make great trainers, but couldn't afford the fees.
We would then fund their courses with the proviso that they worked solely for us for a year or 24 courses , whichever came first.
After that they were free to work for themselves or continue to work for us, as they have very, very generous day rates whilst working for us.
For each person we train we will also offer the same five free courses to charitable organisations, ensuring that, as we grow, charities get to benefit year on year."
"Only a life lived for others is a life worthwhile."