Share History and Background

Share began life as a charity called the Contact Group Trust in 1967, when it was formed to assist and counsel young people who had problems with drug addiction. It was based at a day centre in Potters House until 1975, when Share Psychotherapy as an agency - with the help of local statutory services - was formed.  Share became a company limited by guarantee in 2008. The original charitable object for Share - to offer psychotherapy at as low a cost as possible to those who are economically disadvantaged or for other reasons cannot obtain such help elsewhere – remains the same today.

Share’s founders were, and many of its staff and volunteers over the years have been, practising Christians. However, Share has never promoted religious belief or required it from its clients, and more recently, as the law and the make-up of society have changed, has been unable to expect it in its practitioners. Share’s ‘Anchors’, which describe our essential characteristics and purposes still continue to honour this Christian heritage alongside clear principles from therapy and counselling traditions.

Between 1976 and 1979 the work with overdose patients from Sheffield hospitals was initiated and established. From 1980 to 1983 the sources of referral widened to include mental health issues and direct contact from would-be clients. Until 1990 the work was further developed by a small team of paid staff and volunteers, including initiating a four-year training programme for new volunteers.

From 1990 onwards, the development of psychotherapy as a profession led to the introduction of registration as a requirement for our paid staff and to us defining our approach to psychotherapy more clearly as being primarily psychoanalytically informed. Our preference was to apply this modality to medium- to longer-term relationships with clients, and this practice has persisted in contrast to expectations of shorter therapy from the NHS or many other private therapists who charge higher fees. A scale of charges, linked to income in line with our charitable object, was firmly established as an element of the therapeutic relationship with clients, and as a key source of funding for the charity. We expect a substantial proportion of our clients only to be able to afford the lowest fee.

The range of problems being experienced by clients broadened to include anxiety, depression, difficulties with relationships and the results of bereavement and other significant life events. Therapy was offered mostly to individuals, but also to couples and to groups. Reports concerning clients’ therapy were also provided in support of their involvement in court and other proceedings.

In April 2005 Share moved from the small terraced house it had occupied since the 1990s in Crookesmoor Road into a leased Victorian villa in Wilkinson Street close to the University and the Hallamshire hospital. The capital income from the sale of the Crookesmoor house enabled a short-term expansion of staffing, but this could not be sustained as revenue resources did not grow as envisaged. Plans to expand the range of services, for example to businesses and on-line, had to be curtailed. The four-year training programme had been discontinued before the move and a one-year programme was substituted to offer participants the chance to learn the basics of psychoanalytically informed therapy, either as an adjunct to their own practice as clinicians or as a step towards working as a volunteer in Share.

For the rest of the decade steps were taken to improve and update Share’s managerial policies and procedures, by adopting a business planning process through which aspirations for change could be more reliably forecasted and implemented. More rigorous budgeting and financial reporting were also introduced to give the organisation a more robust foundation on which to operate in an increasingly challenging economic environment. Finances became more stable, largely due to consistent hard work by our therapists, and to a significant annual sum from the NHS, which replaced grants to support staffing from national charities. We were also supported by regular grants from a loyal group of local trusts, such as the Sheffield Church Burgesses and the Town and Talbot Trusts, and by a few local churches, reflecting the original Christian nature of the charity. The potential for service developments was, however, limited by a lack of uncommitted funding, and by a reluctance to move away from the traditional modality of therapy that had served our clients well over many years.

Without such financial and clinical flexibility Share was also still highly vulnerable to the negative effects of major unexpected events. In 2012 unforeseen staffing changes suddenly removed the clinical core of the organization and led to a significant loss of income from the associated drop in activity with clients. We spent the period between 2013 and March 2016 on a focused project to restore Share’s financial viability and broaden the range of therapies on offer (see elsewhere on this website).  A new clinical manager, an influx of new volunteer therapists - many on placements from accredited training courses - a renewed commitment to our basic values, and improved communication across the organization, have all contributed to the success of the project and renewed hope for the future. Further updating of clinical and managerial policies and procedures, including planning and monitoring tools, a risk register and an external fundraising plan, have underpinned the necessary change in culture.

In September 2015, Share celebrated its fortieth birthday and showed its continuing appetite for another lease of life serving people with mental health needs in Sheffield. Plans to collaborate more closely with the public and voluntary bodies working towards better physical and mental wellbeing for our city are being put in place as 2016-17 begins: further evidence of the renewed confidence Share is able to demonstrate at this exciting point in its history.

Checked/Updated 11thMay 2016