12: Manchester, Salford and
By Mary L. Doming Nob' While there is by no means an epidemic of mental ill-health in the world, this malady is sufficiently widespread to warrant serious consideration by the people of all nations. Political unrest, fear of "The Bomb," the pace of modern life, moral laxity, noise, all contribute to make it difficult for man to live a calm unruffled existence and all tend to give him the feeling of insecurity and unease which can, eventually, lead to mental ill-health.
England and Wales made it the business of the community at large, as well as the medical profession, to interest themselves in mental well-being. To this end, in
1960 Manchester, Salford and District, under the chairmanship of Professor Fraser Brockington, formed an association of voluntary workers who should work with and under the supervision of the medical authorities for the good of those who have the misfortune to be overcome by psychiatric illness. It is difficult, at first, to find in what fields voluntary untrained workers can be of use in this very specialised branch of medicine. The first "Activities Committee" of the Manchester Association got together to think in what ways they could be useful. They decided that:? 1. Taking friends to visit patients, 2.
Accompanying children and patients when going for treatment, Helping with the visiting of lonely patients, Taking those able to go for drives and entertaining them to tea or for the weekend, Adopting one lonely patient and visiting and helping him/her, Helping with already established clubs,
were all suitable fields for their deavours and these activities have, one time or another, been undertake by members of the association.
More than any other, the 1 to be assured of the terest and love of his After such an illness he must pr? ^ himself again amongst his associates a? it is here that the Manchester Assoc' tion is trying to do its main work. "The Prestwich Literary and Draiflatli Society" started in September 1962 al "The South Manchester Social Club' K January 1964. In 1962 a group workers agreed to contact local drama1 societies and other social workers provide play readings and film the patients at a local hospital. evening from 7.30?8.30 p.m. was to be suitable for all concerned and ^ was decided to give the readings duflk the Autumn and Spring terms of Attendance at the readings M year. be purely voluntary. to From l' i between 40 and 60 beginning, attended, coming from both male ^ female wards. During the first the patients formed their own group with the help of a nurse, gave an ing's reading in their turn. Luckily, in a congested area ! Manchester and Salford, there are societies from which to draw, and ft0 the first it was decided to ask each to give just one reading in each This spread the load and, though entailed contacting more groups, it f really the best way of working, si11 in not did it more
the patients, but patients, seeing how many people W6 willing to come and entertain the111, gained confidence and assurance.
and biscuits the end of each reading, the hosauthorities provided tea and
ancl this gave opportunity fo??u*ts' closer intimacy between audience an
and this has continued to the two years in which the ?aPs have functioned, ?w
Manchester City Library supplies
?f books for those wishing to do a dreading or production and the has made good use of this fa , Uity. From the first, the groups have a completely free choice of play Patients have had contact, Hot ,?nly with the ever-recurring Lanc? ,re Comedy, but with such plays as "ji Milk Wood>" "St- Joan'" a on Shakespeare, and "Maria rten and the Red Barn." 0etry readings and visits to see plays P med ^ave made a change in the nor ^al programme. On one occasion, Massingham read his own poems, ?n others there were readings from Scl anthologies. These seemed to a to some of the aud- nostalgic pleasure trip len(:e and obviously evoked happy Tories of earlier days.
pis Ration ,
Liye plays The visits e
plays performed live
an"\mar School boys invited the group
Cam from ?n
rehcarsal of "The Man Who
^^nner?'' having read excerpts p'ay at lhe weekly play-reading
previous Monday. Another visited a secondary school 8rouP Whe the children performed the play lh y had been preparing for Christmas.