Visitors to the Barns Centre and those familiar with the Trust will know Trust Secretary Maureen Ward, and Jo Jansen, Conference Centre Administrator.
Maureen has worked for the Trust (in various capacities!) for over 30 years, having worked as a Secretary in a residential school for children before that. Jo has been a foster carer since the 1980s and has been the Conference Centre Administrator (amongst other things!) at PETT for over 10 years.
Here, in an interview recorded by Gemma Geldart in 2012, they share some reflections and memories of their contributions to the Trust over the years...
In the Beginning...
Maureen Ward (MW): It began 32 years ago. Just typing out minutes and things. My involvement with PETT really started when the archive started in 1989, when I did start helping out in the archive in between doing my administrative work for the Trust as well. Then in 1996/7, I became really involved in the admin of PETT. As Secretary [at a residential school] I knew a lot about it [the field] anyway, even if I didn't have the children I had a certain amount of insight of what it was about. And Jo with her fostering had a different kind of experience, so you knew a bit a about it.'
Jo Jansen (JJ): 'I came through knowing Craig when PETT was getting the idea of the conference centre off the ground...they were still building when I came. I came along for an interview, with the builders, that was quite funny because I came in and I didn't know, no idea what it was going to be like here so I thought I better look a bit posh, so I had a skirt and jacket on and walked in, and Maureen came by me as I came in but she thought I was a rep for the builders because everyone else was in casual things here...I felt slightly overdressed and it was quite funny. When I got it I thought, 'Oh good,' because I was more like them than I was being'.
MW: [In the early years] it was just a few of us, me and Craig and John and the Trustees like Robert Laslett who was Chair of the Trust. He was a lovely man, he was a lot of help. He was a – he taught at the University of Birmingham, in Special Needs Education, some of his books are still used as text books and he left us his royalties and we still get them from time to time.
JJ: And he had vast experience prior to that.
MW: Yes well he was at Bodenham with John and he was at Swalcliffe and the Mulberry Bush so he had a large amount of experience.
On the Archive
MW: The archive started in 1989, and I was drafted in to help Craig with the archive because collections were starting to come in, he was beginning to do oral history interviews, and I did most of the early transcripts, and I also helped list a lot of the early collections and because there wasn't a lot of admin going on on the other side, I was virtually, almost full time in the archive.
I was based in the archive in your room [Gemma's office during her time with the Trust, 2010-2013]. I did all my work in there even if I had PETT admin to do, so I do know quite a lot about what goes on in the archive. And that continued until the Conference Centre and the ATC got so they took up all my time and I didn't have time to go in there anymore. If I had spare time, and had an afternoon spare, I'd go in and help in the archive.
JJ: You'd say, 'Oh I haven't done my four hours in the archive this week',
MW: Yes but I think it gradually came out as we had more and more work to do with the ATC and the Conference Centre
On the Conference Centre
JJ: John [Cross, former Executive Director] got me working mostly from home, researching other places, to see what prices were and what facilities were on offer. Then we had a meeting after our normal team meeting, which has always existed, and we had a conference centre team meeting that I used to minute...they were getting the finishing touches done...
MW: [The team] kitted it all out didn't they? They did all the decorating, bought all the beds, did everything you needed really.
JJ: And we just got going on a very basic brochure, so we got some publicity out and Craig put something on the then website,
GG: When was this?
JJ: This would be early 2000 was it?
MW: I think the first invoice went out, if my memory serves me correctly, in 2001. I think.
JJ: But this was sometime in 2000 and then we had foot and mouth. We were just getting underway when foot and mouth happened and of course the whole area was closed down so we didn't get going.
MW: Now, Jo had experience in organising things and I had a lot of administrative experience – neither of us had had any practical experience of running a conference centre. So, tell them about our first-
JJ: There were some Americans on a garden tour
MW: It was 2002, because one of the Americans gave me a little tin with 'Golden Jubilee' written on it and we did Jubilee Chicken so it must have been then
JJ: They were here for a fortnight, and we'd not done that so it was like running a hotel for a fortnight and we had to sort the cooking, all the -
MW: Between us we did the lot, we did the cooking, the clearing up, the menus, the shopping, making the beds, changing the beds, the laundry, we did it all. We had some help, mainly young people, school children, students and then at the end of it, I think we both felt we knew what we needed to ask of other people. And we were both absolutely shattered [both laugh]
GG: Who else was here at the time?
MW: It was just us, and Craig and John - What about Teresa?
MW: She certainly overlapped with you. I was just Administrator at that time, I mean I didn't have a job title but I did all of the admin for the Trust as well as other things
JJ: You certainly did the minutes of meetings from as long as I can remember back. Early on, because there were so few of us, we had a Management Committee which we were on, because there were so few of us.
MW: And Robert Laslett used to come, and Helen and Stephen - a volunteer, a retired accountant who came and did all our figures for us.
MW: We got to the point when we needed someone to take over the cooking and the shopping, and so we could go back to being just in this office.
JJ: Well Sheila started, came and started to do Saturday nights. Sheila used to decide on a menu she'd like to cook on a Saturday night and then she'd ring me and tell me all the ingredients she needed and I'd go and get them. And of course, they loved her Saturday night dinners, she was very experienced, she'd worked in restaurants and trained in catering. So we began to lift the standards and she gradually took over more and more the cooking side and I was able to step down because by then we were doing the admin for the ATC.
And of course we had Anya [Turner], when did Anya come? She came as a volunteer in the archive while she was a student and then decided we could use help and was another person who didn't mind doing a bit of everything so she came and did some hours in the archive and helped on the conference side as well, and she liked cooking so she did a bit of that as well and shopping and generally helping.
MW: But both of us – and you still do – did a lot of the catering side. I did breakfasts until not that long before you came. And then we got Jeanette and Enla and various other of our children and grandchildren have all helped,
JJ: All our children have at various times!
MW: Like Libby does now! [Maureen's granddaughter who recently completed a three week placement in the archive and often helps with the catering and housekeeping].
On The ATC (Association of Therapeutic Communities)
MW: In the Autumn of 2002 we took over the admin for the ATC, and the first thing, just before the Windsor Conference wasn't it? and that was the first thing, we didn't actually organise it, but took over and chased the money and so on. So in between doing everything else, which was doing the admin for PETT, doing the invoicing, the banking, the accounts you know everything, between us, and sorting menus, taking bookings and actually building up the paperwork we needed, organising conditions and things that we needed to tell people when they came
JJ: And then we took over the ATC which was supposed to be about 16 hrs a week, and initially Craig was doing some
MW: And he was doing the website too at that time. And then we had to keep the membership records, do the accounts and the banking, what else?
JJ: organise the workshops and the conference which was more the side I did..
MW: I did the membership and finance; you did the other things mostly.
JJ: And of course, answering the phone which was a helpline. It wasn't meant to be a helpline, but it is to an extent because other charities when people have been recommended that a therapeutic community might be good for them, they were put on to us. So we would get a lot of calls
MW: Which was difficult sometimes, because with neither of us being clinicians, it's very difficult to give people advice. You tried, “Why don't you try this place? Or this or that place?” But I mean it depended who it was, if you've got a professional, a social worker, or a psychologist or somebody you could talk to them but quite often it wasn't, it was the actual client themselves, who might be in a bit of a state.
JJ: A lot of people with personality disorder, who had just been diagnosed, saying 'I've just had a diagnosis of borderline personality disorder I need somewhere to go', or a parent...
MW: Or a wife or a husband
JJ: With a child. A lot of calls, of the calls were from elderly parents with middle aged children who've got to the end of the line with the mental health services and have got nowhere to go and they're struggling as they're getting older
MW: And they're drug addicts or suicidal and they can't cope and basically where do they go? It was actually quite harrowing at times because you can't help them. And the worst ones were people that you really couldn't help at all, very often people with children who were in their late teens, very early twenties, because there's no place for them to go. The children's ones have stopped and the adult ones haven't started yet, and you think: there's nowhere, nowhere to recommend you.
JJ: The late teens particularly, 17-18 years olds, Charterhouse Group on the whole wouldn't take anybody over 15 and the adults usually had to be over 20. To begin with we kept a hard copy of the ATC Directory, and kept it updated, but it was available to print off if people didn't have access to the internet. But as time's gone on more and people have had access to the internet and we stopped the hard copy and gave them pointers where to look, for example, CHT in London will allow people to self-refer, so they're helpful. There was still the Cassel and the Henderson then and
MW: And then you had the changes in the NHS that an awful lot of places stopped taking people from outside the catchment area, which meant that yes there is a place, but not in your area, and you need to go through your GP or psychiatrist to refer you. And a lot of them would have psychologists, psychiatrists who'd never heard of therapeutic communities, or believe in them and weren't prepared to refer them, so what do you do?
The ATC work actually dropped as emails and things became more widely used...oh we used to do the journals too! We used to distribute the ATC Journal, 'The Therapeutic Communities Journal' four times a year, so we used to get them delivered here, putting them all in envelopes, sticking the labels on, franking them, it used to take forever!
MW: And the Conference Centre was always growing so there was always more work to do on that side, and then of course the Lottery came along and I did all the figures. I don't know why, I always said – I inherited them when Jenny left and it's grown, “Oh Maureen will do those” and now I've basically cut everything else down and I'm just doing those! That's me!