How York Mind ‘gave me my life back’

18 Sep 2013 @ 10.25 am
| Health
York Mind’s craft group helped Sandra to interact with other people
York Mind’s craft group helped Sandra to interact with other people

robert-beaumont-headshotIn the first of a series of articles leading up to World Mental Health Day on October 10, Robert Beaumont reveals how a York charity changed one woman’s life

A New Earswick woman, struggling to cope with depression and a stroke-stricken husband, has paid a heart-felt tribute to York Mind for “giving me my life back”.

Mrs Sandra Smith, who also suffers from acute back pain and arthritis, was being cared for by her husband Graham, until he suffered a serious stroke last year.

“He was my rock and my support,” said 62-year-old Sandra. “He did everything for me. But when he had his massive stroke, our world was turned upside down. I suddenly had to become his full-time carer and I found it incredibly difficult to cope.”

“We didn’t know where to turn. We were at our wits end. I was already deeply depressed, but Graham’s stroke made everything ten times worse. We couldn’t go out, we didn’t see anybody and we sat at home in silence. We had always loved each other so much, and put the other one first, so this way of life was unbearable for both of us.”

Sandra had never heard of York Mind, or the work that the charity did, but she was prepared to give it a go when someone at York District Hospital mentioned how helpful York Mind could be.

“We originally thought that York Mind could help Graham, as he was suffering more. Here was a healthy, active 60-year-old, who loved the outdoor life, whose world had completely changed. But my doctor, aware of my problems, suggested I seek help too.”

Graham and Sandra have never looked back.

“We started going to York Mind a year ago and our lives have completed changed. What is so brilliant about this charity is that they work out what is best for their clients and then put it into action.

“So Graham was given a ‘befriender’ who visited him on a weekly basis, which got him out of the house, gave him something to look forward to and enabled me to have a rest.

“At the same time, I was given a befriender too, a lovely student called Emily, and together we have visited some of York’s best attractions which, I’m ashamed to say, I had never visited before. Emily is also a brilliant problem solver and helps me if something is wrong.

“But that’s not all. I have also been going to York Mind’s craft group, which has helped me to interact better with other people, lifting my spirits no end, as well as making things I am proud of. What a simple, yet super, idea.”

Sandra added: “Instead of handing out pills to depressed, stressed and lonely patients, doctors should tell them to go to York Mind. It is no exaggeration to say this wonderful charity has given me my life back, and Graham’s too.”

York Mind, which is based in Highcliffe House, Highcliffe Court, Clifton, is currently gearing up for World Mental Health Day on Thursday October 10.

Holly Pollard, York Mind’s Community Fundraiser, said: “We are so looking forward to celebrating World Mental Health Day 2013. It’s an annual reminder of the importance of taking care of your own, and others, mental wellbeing.

“York Mind will be just one of several organisations marking the occasion, with awareness and fundraising events happening city-wide”.


  • For further information, please contact Holly Pollard on 01904 643364