A brief history of SPARC

The service was developed over 25 years ago in recognition that there was a need for an alternative service for people with mental health problems in addition to what was already available from statutory health and social services.

A Committee was formed consisting of representatives from other voluntary mental health services, health workers, a representative from social services and service users.

The organisation was originally based at Longshut Lane in a big, old house. The centre was initially funded by joint finance and opened Monday to Friday with 2 paid staff members and a group of volunteers.

Further funding was acquired from the local council in order for the service to expand and develop. This included evening and weekend opening times based on the needs of the service users. The service was built on social care values, creating a friendly and open environment where people were known as who they were rather than their illness or diagnosis.

Over the years many changes have taken place including modifications to the referral criteria, an ever wider range of therapeutic, educational and vocational activities, together with the implementation of health safety regulations, however this informal approach remains an integral part of the service.

Service user involvement remains a vital aspect of the service. This includes participation on the Management Committee, informal peer support and the Day Trippers group. The service has and will continue to develop based on the needs of our members, including the integration of the recovery model throughout the service.