Mental After Care Association

  • Mental After Care Association
  • Archives and manuscripts

About this work


The collection includes not only central administrative material such as minutes, annual reports, accounts and a few subject files, but also much material relating to the homes and hostels administered by the Association, including registers of individual residential homes in the South of England, property documents, correspondence and a large collection of photographs. There is also some case material: registers, case agenda books and files.

A collection of publicity, publications and ephemera, including some early scrapbooks, are included and these help to give a picture of the activities of the Association before the annual reports and surviving minutes begin. Apart from these, only a small amount of early material survives, most of it published. Another major gap is in the sequence of correspondence and administrative files, of which only a sparse selection remains.

To supplement the collection, accounts of the very first meetings of the Association in 1879 and of the AGMs in the 1880s may be found in the Journal of Mental Science along with papers by Henry Hawkins including: "Plea for convalescent homes in connection with asylums for the insane poor", 1871, and "After Care", 1879.



Physical description

52 boxes, 5 large boxes, 4 folders 3 microfilms H.1/1-5 are too fragile to be produced. Readers are requested to order the microfilm version quoting the AMS/MF/ reference.


The collection is divided into sections as follows:

A. Constitution and background [?1886]-1992

B. Annual Reports 1887-1993

C. Minutes 1921-1982

D. Financial c.1880-1987

E. General Administration 1891-c.1990

F. Homes 1910-1992

G. Case Records 1888-1986

H. Publicity, publications and ephemera c.1880-1994

J. Photographs and Audio-Visual Material 1927-1989

Acquisition note

The archives of the Association were deposited with the library at Wellcome Collection in May 1994, following a survey in September 1987.

Biographical note

The Association was founded in 1879 by the Rev Henry Hawkins, Chaplain of Colney Hatch Asylum, as "The After Care Association for Poor and Friendless Female Convalescents on Leaving Asylums for the Insane" ("Friendless" dropped in 1892, "Female" dropped in 1894). It became "The Mental After Care Association for Poor Persons Convalescent or Recovered from Institutions for the Insane" in 1914, before adopting its present title in 1940.

Its aims during the early decades were to provide an alternative to the workhouse for those discharged from asylums by offering a period of convalescence during which ex-patients were 'befriended' in the homes of private individuals, given advice, money and clothing, and assisted to find suitable work. The system of visiting ex-patients and their homes which the Association developed was an early form of both almoner and psychiatric social work.

Later developments included: in the 1930s, a move into preventive care and the provision of holiday accommodation for those not ready to leave hospital on a permanent basis; in the 1960s the accommodation of chronic patients in homes administered by the Association itself; and more recently, the participation in community and respite care projects.

An outline chronology of the Association follows:

1870s Rev Henry Hawkins published papers on the problems facing recovered patients discharged from asylums

1879 Association founded by Rev Henry Hawkins, a hospital chaplain (Colney Hatch Asylum, Middlesex, later Friern Barnet Hospital), as the "After Care Association for Poor and Friendless Female Convalescents on Leaving Asylums for the Insane"

5 Jun First informal meeting attended by a group of leaders in the mental health field: Dr and Mrs Bucknill, Miss Cons, Dr Lockhart Robertson, Dr D. Hack Tuke, Mr W.G. Marshall, Dr Harrington Tuke, Rev Hasloch Potter, Rev G.H. Lee, Rev H. Hawkins

29 Jul A meeting of ladies to consider the issues raised

27 Nov A committee of ladies appointed; aims decided upon: to provide temporary homes in cottages and other houses, and find suitable places for servants willing to go out to service

1880 The Earl of Shaftesbury became President

1882-3 "After-care Ladies Working Society", set up to raise money and provide clothing [possible forerunner of the Guild of Help, founded 1907]

1886 Association adopted its first constitution, appointed a Council and Executive Committee and the first paid Secretary (H. Thornhill Roxby) whose duties included making visits of inspection to the cottage homes and recruiting local lady visitors to help and befriend the ex-patients and find employment for them

1886-1922 Lord Brabazon, Earl of Meath, President

1887 First annual report published

c.1890 Share in an office at Church House, Westminster

1892 Changed name to the "After-care Association for Poor Female Convalescents on Leaving Asylums for the Insane"

1893 Association opened its own home for 8 or 9 ex-patients at Redhill which was the very first convalescent home for the mentally ill in England

1894 First male patients helped; name changed to the "Aftercare Association for Persons Discharged Recovered from Asylms for the Insane"

1895 Redhill home closed

1904 Local branches established to raise funds, find, visit and report on homes in their area and deal with cases of neglect

1907 Guild of Help formed with the object of offering practical help to the Association by making gifts of clothing and trying to get fresh supporters

1912 Six-month trial of helping patients other than those 'recovered'

1912 Birmingham Affiliated Branch founded

1914 Practice of helping those other than the "recovered" formally instituted and name changed to the "Mental After Care Association for Poor Persons Convalescent or Recovered from Institutions for the Insane"

1914-1918 Shell-shock and air raid victims helped

1915 Miss Vickers became Secretary

1916 Visiting of cases discharged from LCC Asylums on trial for the information of the Queen Adelaide Fund commenced

1919 LCC Asylums and Mental Deficiency Department authorised their sub-committees to make use of the Association's services in dealing with patients discharged on trial and to make payments up to the full cost of maintenance

1920 Ex-servicemen aided by the Association

1922 Sir Charles Wakefield became President

1925 Propaganda Committee appointed to consider publicity

1924-1926 Royal Commission on Lunacy and Mental Disorder recommended that after-care should remain in the voluntary sector

1929 Local Government Act Sections 134 and 135 led to local authorities gaining wider responsibility for the poor person suffering from mental illness

First English training course in psychiatric social work established in the Social Science Department of LSE

1930 Mental Treatment Act

1930s "Early-" or "pre"-care instituted by the Association

1938 First holiday beds made available for patients not ready to leave hospital permanently

1939 Feversham Committee Report recommended that the four voluntary associations then working in the mental health field should amalgamate

Due to the War the Association began to take some patients from hospitals in order to set free beds for urgent cases

1940 Name became simply "Mental After Care Association"

Association moved to Eagle House, Jermyn Street

New President: Princess Arthur of Connaught

New Secretary: Miss HS Russell

Assisted cases of distress found in Air Raid Shelters and Rest Centres

1942 MACA, because of the specialised nature of its work, did not join the other three associations which form the Provisional National Council for Mental Health

Granted a licence by the LCC to act as a special employment agency

1942 Experiment in taking work from a war factory in Luton as occupational therapy

1943 Association co-operated with the provisional NCMH in a scheme to assist ex-Service psychiatric patients

Agreement with the Polish Government to organise a scheme for the after-care and rehabilitation of their ex-Service psychiatric casualties

1944 Elmstead Lodge, a rehabilitation centre for Polish psychiatric casualties, opened

1946 National Health Service Acts

1947 Elmstead Lodge converted to a rehabilitation centre under the direct management of the Association

1949 Association became a limited company

1953 LCC terminated its arrangement with voluntary bodies to assist in community care

1954 Association began to take chronic cases

1960s-1980s Association owned and administered a series of residential homes and hostels in its own right

1981 New emphasis in government policy on care in the community

1983 Mental Health Act

1984 Registered Homes Act

1986 Appointment of Development Officers to help with the planning of new community mental health services

1987 Introduction of the "Social Care Model", placing emphasis on user choice and consultation

Move to Bainbridge House

1980s-90s Long-standing services operated through homes gradually replaced by contract-based activities and projects developed in response to the varying needs of different local health authorities

2005 Name changed to "Together: Working for Wellbeing"

Terms of use

This collection has been catalogued and is available to library members. Some items have access restrictions which are explained in the item-level catalogue records.

Appraisal note

During arrangement of the collection, the major record groups, including the main series of minutes and other volumes such as registers and case agenda which were easily discernible, were sorted into sequence. Much of the rest of the material was contained in box and loose files and where this did not appear to constitute any particular original order material has been rearranged (although coherent files have been kept as such). Original file titles are indicated in inverted commas in the list. The collection has been weeded of duplicate and ephemeral items.

Location of duplicates

H.1/1-5 Microfilm: Scrapbooks 1886-1965 (AMS/MF/84-86)

Accruals note

The following is an interim description of material that has been acquired since this collection was catalogued. This description may change when cataloguing takes place in future:

3 boxes were received in August 1999 (acc. 805), consisting of Council and AGM papers, annual reports, photographs, newsletters and papers relating to services, patrons, branding, publicatins and press releases, c.1970s-1990s.

1 box was received in September 2005 (acc. 1376), consisting of reports and other publications.


The following abbreviations are used in the catalogue:

AGM Annual General Meeting

BBC British Broadcasting Corporation

CAMW Central Association for Mental Welfare

COS Charity Organisation Society

DHSS Department of Health and Social Security

ITV Independent Television

LCC London County Council

LSE London School of Economics

MACA Mental After Care Association

MOH Medical Officer of Health

Ms Manuscript

NAMH National Association for Mental Health

NCMH National Council for Mental health

NHS National Health Service

NVQ National Vocational Qualification

SPCK Society for the Promotion of Christian Knowledge

Ts Typescript

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Accession number

  • 512
  • 805
  • 1376