Pat Downing MBE (President)
I have been involved in developing voluntary mental health services since 1979, and have really enjoyed the challenge. There were no facilities back then, and mental health was not really talked about. We now have two supported houses and flourishing centres in Sevenoaks and Tonbridge. We can – and do – make a difference.
Mary-Ann Palmer (Chair)
Whenever possible I have tried to volunteer in one way or another, and I have served in many different areas. I am drawn to the mental health field as I feel this is an area of real need. West Kent Mind works for everyone with mental health issues within the local community – the community I wish to serve.
Marie Stanley (Treasurer)
After taking early retirement from international finance, I had time to devote to my community. I was particularly pleased to join West Kent Mind as I believe that mental health is so important and affects so many of us, directly or indirectly. Here we have dedicated staff and volunteers committed to improving the lives and wellbeing of our clients, and to overcoming the stigma attached to mental health.
I have spent the majority of my career in UK and International media, but decided on a change of direction a few years ago and began training as a psychotherapist. I began practising at West Kent Mind six years ago, and joined as a Trustee four years ago. I feel the service we offer is essential and one that can be broadened to provide a wide range of locally relevant offerings.
As a local solicitor I often see clients with mental health problems and work with them and others around them to help deal with their finances. I am passionate about this aspect of my professional life and was keen to become a trustee of West Kent Mind which provides vital support within the community. Mental health problems affect all of us at some point in our lives so it is important that organisations like ours exist to help people in times of need.
I retired early from Investment Management and served as Treasurer for almost 10 years before stepping down to remain a Trustee. Fortunately we have been financially strong with good reserves during that time. I have been struck by the dedication of the staff, management and trustees in the Cinderella area of mental health. This has been in the face of many challenges and changes in the legislative background and funding framework.
Playing a role in supporting the vital work of West Kent Mind and helping challenge misleading attitudes to mental illness is very important to me. I’m particularly interested in Awareness Training, the need to fund raise, liaising with the voluntary sector (I was associated with the CAB for 30 years) and working with national Mind.
I have a long-standing interest in mental health, and after a long career in the civil service I want to use my experience of policy, management and government interaction with the voluntary sectors in the mental health context. I am a trustee of a London mental health group, and am now really pleased to be involved with West Kent Mind where there is a strong feeling of dynamism and engagement, and a positive and creative response to current challenges.