Who we are

What is MindSpace?

MindSpace Stamford is a local charity committed to improving the mental health and wellbeing of the whole town, helping people to flourish. We encourage conversations around mental health in our homes, businesses, and schools and offer a range of activities based on the 5 ways to wellbeing, that anyone can access (for free!) to encourage positive mental health and wellbeing.

Our story

Faced with the lack of local services to support mental health, Dr. Dan Petrie founded the Stamford Mental Health Forum in 2015, bringing together members of the community to discuss what services were required locally, and how to overcome the stigma of mental illness. This led to the creation of a drop-in café: a ‘safe space’ where anyone could come along to talk or listen in a non-judgemental atmosphere. This approach developed into what we now know as MindSpace Stamford.

The number of services offered may have grown considerably and we now have our own premises, but the aim of MindSpace remains the same –increase the knowledge and understanding of mental health in the community, by providing ways to prevent ill health through better conversations.

Our activities now run every weekday, and our fundraising efforts mean that these continue to be offered free of charge to all of our members (members being the term we use for those who attend our events – there is no ‘formal’ membership!).

We also invest in local initiatives and work with businesses and schools to educate people and equip the whole community so that they can support loved ones, friends, colleagues, and neighbors, to reduce the burden of loneliness and mental ill-health.

For further information about what we aim to achieve and how we work, please take a look at our vision and mission.


Board of trustees and team

Our board of trustees brings together seven local professionals with a range of skills and includes a former headteacher, a marketing director, an education project manager, an accountant, a hospital doctor, a GP and a former nurse and non-executive director of the local NHS Trust. All trustees work for MindSpace on a voluntary basis.

Together the group has developed both an aspirational strategic plan and a detailed operational plan to guide us in working towards achieving our vision.

We also wouldn’t be who we are without our wonderful team of volunteers and our members – you can read comments from our members at the bottom of this page and click here for some from our volunteers.

Improving the mental
wellbeing of the people
of Stamford through a
community approach

Beka Avery

Chair of Trustees

I am a textbook extrovert who gains energy and joy from people. I grew up in Essex but chose Stamford as my hometown. Being a trustee of MindSpace helps me to support my community and be informed and resilient enough to support friends, neighbours and relatives in maintaining positive mental health. I have worked across the NHS, the Police and now at The University of Leicester delivering collaborative outreach and engagement projects. My current project supports young people in overcoming barriers to higher education in areas where GCSE results are good, but fewer students continue their education post-18. I have to work hard at maintaining positive mental wellbeing but I find wild swimming and being outdoors really help, as does cooking for friends.

Dr Dan Petrie
Dr Dan Petrie

Founder, Vice Chair and Trustee

I am a GP in Stamford where I live with my family and where my children go to school. As someone who often comes into contact with people who have mental health problems, I launched MindSpace Stamford to reduce the stigma associated with such difficulties and give local people the help and support they need to improve their mental wellbeing. I am proud of the range of activities we offer, whether they be physical or mindful or just the chance for people to share their story with others. I believe this will help the mental wellbeing of our local community as a whole to flourish.

Helen Howe


I am a retired French teacher, Senior Leader in schools, secondary school Head Teacher, school inspector and school improvement professional in both the primary and secondary sector. I have always been very aware of the importance of emotional health and wellbeing and how all of us can be susceptible to mental health challenges. Having moved to Stamford in 2005 I am passionate about our wonderful town! It is an amazing place to live. I always vowed to make a social contribution in my retirement (in between grandparent duties!). Through MindSpace Stamford we have an opportunity to do something unique. We hope that you can support us in whatever way possible.

Mary Dowglass
Mary Dowglass


I worked as a Director of Nursing for the former Peterborough and Stamford Hospitals until 2002 and have since worked as CEO of an international charity providing health services in the developing world, before returning to the local area to work as a Development Manager for Macmillan Cancer Support. As well as being a Trustee for MindSpace Stamford, I am also a Non-Executive Director for the Lincolnshire Partnership NHS Foundation Trust and the North West Anglia NHS Foundation Trust. MindSpace is a great opportunity to apply my professional experience to support the local community.MindSpace is a great opportunity to apply my professional experience to support the local community.

Louise Bellis
Louise Bellis

Trustee - Finance

I am a qualified accountant (ACMA) and have a background in operational finance. I moved to Stamford in 2007 and after having my children, became aware that emotional health is just as important as physical health. I have returned to work following a short career break but continue to enjoy using my work-related skills to help Stamford residents get the support they need to improve their mental wellbeing. In my spare time, I enjoy being a baby swimming instructor.

Sue Parslow

Trustee - Marketing and Communications

I am delighted to join the board of trustees for MindSpace Stamford. Having been aware of the excellent work of Dan and his team for many years, I am looking forward to contributing towards helping to spread the word about MindSpace and what it has to offer the people of Stamford.
I have lived in my present home in Stamford for about ten years, happily returning here after a period of living near Peterborough. Having worked in the centre of town too, I feel I know it well.
My background is in journalism and for two decades lived the dream of editing the magazine that I launched. Now I work as a freelance, juggling numerous roles. I still work in magazine publishing and most recently branched out into copywriting and PR work.
I fully understand the importance of an organisation which promotes the various routes to mental wellness, not least because my Mum had bipolar disorder. Thank goodness we can now all openly talk about depression, anxiety and mental illness – and there are people within the community who will listen and can help.

Stefan Rakowski

Trustee - Information Systems

I am an Information Systems professional and business management consultant, experienced in supporting organisations to improve efficiency and effectiveness. A Stamford resident since 2017, I look forward to contributing IS support to the valuable service which MindSpace provides to the local community. My interests include lifelong learning, country walks, photography, and spending time with friends and family.

Alison Toomey

Trustee - Fundraising

Having spent the last 30 years living in Stamford, I am delighted to have the opportunity to help to build our community into one that lives well and supports each other to help improve mental wellbeing. Having worked in the Charity sector for the best part of my career, from grass roots fundraising through to Stategic Leadership, I am very passionate about the contribution the third sector can make to improve people's lives. I am really excited about the opportunities MindSpace can bring to Stamford and about being part of this amazing team.

Zoe McKeague

Trustee - Operations

I was previously an operations director of a legal company and partner of a Top 75 law firm. I am now a non-practising solicitor and company director of a firm I set up in April 2010, which provides legal services to other firms of solicitors. Having suffered a major depressive episode 10 years ago and then being diagnosed with Bi-Polar, with limited access to health care services, I am consciously aware of the needs of those suffering with mental health illnesses. MindSpace Stamford gives me both the opportunity to apply my professional experience and my personal experience of mental illness. Outside of work and MindSpace Stamford, I love spending time at home with my young son and husband, I also enjoy running, which helps my mental illness and cooking.

What our members say about MindSpace

"I don’t like physical activity normally, but boxing is such great fun and Marc the coach is so encouraging and supportive to motivate me and make me feel good about myself, thank you Marc"

"From feeling hopeless to hopeful ... A fabulous place to meet like-minded people in a non-judgemental and relaxing atmosphere."

"It can be very scary to go to a group which is set up to give help and support with your mental health. But everyone is so welcoming, you can be involved as much, or as little as you like."

"MindSpace is absolutely amazing, we are so lucky to have something like this in our town, thanks to the effort and dedication of Dan and everyone else who has made me feel so welcome and at home here."

"MindSpace has really helped me to turn my life around. Thank you all so very much."

"Without a doubt the best support I have ever attended is the café events that MindSpace Stamford provides for all. Their support has been priceless. I would not be the woman I am today without them. They welcome everyone without judgment. They provide social and 1:1 without referrals or questionnaires."

"Good for people to feel welcome and have the chance to talk to people if they need to."

"Help me to realise that I am not alone and that there is a place to go where there is no judgment. You provide a nice atmosphere at the Thursday café."

"Meeting people through MindSpace has helped me through a difficult last year."

"MindSpace has given me a space to socialise and put some structure in my life."

"MindSpace gives me a safe space to go and talk. No-one judges me."

"MindSpace has had a dramatic effect on my life and confidence. I was a recluse but I now look forward to the varied MindSpace events."

"On the brink of ending everything, MindSpace gave me a safe place to go – to feel that I was heard, not judged and worth staying alive for. If it wasn’t for MindSpace I would not be here today. Marc’s sessions … have given me focus, allowed my mind to think of other things, but importantly, it has given me a sense of community, hope and belonging."

"I have participated in yoga which I enjoyed, I’ve been to boxing classes and loved that, really helped me get some of my frustration out on the punch bags. 😂 I enjoyed coming to the cafe and being with others playing scrabble etc. It made me feel less alone and helped talking to others who are struggling with mental health. Having tea and cake 🍰 was also a real comfort. I have had the worst year to date with my mental health and to find MindSpace and all the lovely people and volunteers who run this has been a blessing. 😇 I hope to be able to return to boxing 🥊 and enjoy a game of scrabble again soon. And eat more cake 🍰. Thank you everyone at MindSpace. "