SASH celebrated fifty years of supporting people with mental health issues

Shropshire Association for Supported Housing (SASH) celebrated its fiftieth year of supporting people with enduring mental health issues in 2022.

Rt Hon Philip Dunn MP, Jean Smith, Board member, Rowland Waddington, Board member, Andrew Roberts, Board member and Paul Forsythe
Rt Hon Philip Dunn said: Congratulations to SASH (Shropshire Association for Supported Housing) who celebrated their 50th birthday last week. I visited with local Shropshire Councillor David Evans to thank staff for their brilliant work helping provide a home, security and support to residents with mental health challenges over the past half century.

SASH was founded in 1972 following a presentation made by psychiatrist Jimmy Flowerdew to the Rotary Club of Shrewsbury on the operations of Shelton Hospital, the old mental health hospital in Shrewsbury serving the county of Shropshire. Jimmy explained to the club that many of the 800 Shelton residents had no home to return to, and there were very limited options for accommodation for those in recovery still needing support.

Ten Rotary Club members each placed £100 into a fund and SASH was formed. It was a registered charity and Friendly Society that was also registered with the Housing Corporation as a Social Landlord and was supported by Senior Social Managers, Consultant Psychiatrists and Senior Officers in Mental Health, all of whom recognized there was a very strong need for the provision of sheltered housing for patients moving on.

A number of properties were purchased in Shrewsbury and the surrounding areas to provide furnished accommodation and in-house support. Today, SASH has accommodation for just over 20 people. In line with changes introduced by the Supporting People legislation, support is no longer provided by an in-house person, but rather each resident has their own individual care package provided by social services and the community mental health teams. Recent times have seen a steady increase in demand and SASH is once again building its property portfolio to meet that demand.

Residents are referred by the local authority, who continue to provide the social care and support so residents may complete their rehabilitation and become as independent as possible, eventually moving into their own accommodation.

SASH prides itself on providing good quality, non-invasive accommodation and aims to promote independence and respect personal choice, giving residents the freedom to develop and recover at their own pace. 

Each resident has their own fully furnished, comfortable bedroom with private shower room. Living in a SASH property, means sharing communal areas, such as garden, living room and kitchen, with other people, who also need support. Its residents find these communal arrangements and socialisation with the other residents tend to aid their recovery. 

SASH is managed by a Board of Directors, each of whom offers their time voluntarily. They bring a range of skills, expert knowledge and experience to ensure the quality of the business and the service being offered is efficient, appropriate and consistent.

David Battisby, Chair of the Board, said: “We are proud to have provided housing and support to so many from the local community over the last 50 years and hope to go on doing so for as long as our services are needed. It gives us great pleasure to see our residents, who are all vulnerable, doing well and progressing towards more independent living”.

Paul Forsythe, Head of Housing, has worked in social housing for nearly 40 years. He manages the day-to-day running of SASH and is the key liaison with the Community Mental Health teams and other relevant services. He said: “It is immensely satisfying when you see residents develop and become stronger and more independent. The supported living environment that SASH offers is invaluable for individuals who have enduring mental health issues. Professionals working in mental health roles are working at capacity at a time when the services provided are needed more than ever. We work closely with our colleagues to ensure the best service provision and to identify where change is needed to meet the increasing demands and expectations”.

Former residents all sing SASH’s praises very highly. Jo found SASH after years of domestic violence, abuse, and drug addiction. This resulted in her ending up living on the streets and having her son taken away from her. This led to a breakdown in her mental health and she found herself in hospital and eventually in a SASH property on the road to recovery. She said: “Without SASH I wouldn’t be where I am today. I’ve now learnt to take care of myself. I’ve moved closer to my son and been able to spend time with him and that’s just been amazing. I’m still getting support and I’m on lots of medication for bipolar, schizophrenia, epilepsy and PTSD. Places like SASH need to be kept open. They give you support to help you turn your life around when you need it. They are a lifeline and I’m so grateful for all the help I was given.”

If you are aged 18 or over, are recovering from or have an enduring mental health issue and feel SASH accommodation may suit you, or someone you know, please do contact us.

Armed Forces Covenant

In 2019, Paul Forsythe, Head of Housing at SASH signed the Armed Forces Covenant on our behalf.
Photograph of Lt Col Sam Brettell (11 WM Signals Brigade), Major Richard Todd (Officer Commanding D Squadron RY), Paul Forsythe (SASH), and Cpl Tim Morgan (D Squadron RY)
From left to right: Lt Col Sam Brettell (11 WM Signals Brigade), Major Richard Todd (Officer Commanding D Squadron RY), Paul Forsythe (SASH), and Cpl Tim Morgan (D Squadron RY)

The covenant declares that SASH will work with Veterans where possible and can offer accommodation to Veterans who are suffering with Mental Health issues.

We owe much to those who serve or have served in the Armed Forces and Signing the Covenant demonstrates our gratitude and willingness to do what we can to further support them. 

(Paul Forsythe)

January 2023 saw another Veteran move into SASH accommodation. We currently have 25% of our residents as Veterans, something we are very proud of.