World Values Day is on 21st October this year. Its aim is to increase the awareness and practice of values around the world.

You might be wondering what this means – what do we understand by the word ‘values’? If I asked you what your value base was, what would you say? I’d say that it’s the things that matter most in my life, the things upon which my behaviour, opinions, decisions, feelings and communications are based. I know that my key values are fairness, equality, compassion, integrity and making a contribution.

These values, from a career point of view, have led me to work exclusively for statutory or voluntary sector organisations, to seek work that I feel has the chance to make a difference to people’s lives and always to try to build teams that I feel are congruent with my values base. I can’t say that I have always achieved this but I have always tried.

My values led me to work for The Retreat. It was founded by a Quaker tea merchant, William Tuke, in 1792 on the basis of the things that matter most to Quakers: equality and justice, truth and integrity, simplicity and sustainability, the importance of the environment and peace. These are the values upon which The Retreat was founded, influencing a revolution in care for people with mental health difficulties and they remain important to us today. In our interactions with staff, patients and our local community we strive to live our values. This means that:-

  • Although we have a necessary administrative hierarchy in the organisation, our structure is flat and we endeavour to treat everyone as equals, regardless of their job role.
  • We value our environment and understand the importance of green spaces and the chance to work with people in our grounds.
  • We collaborate together on the important decisions for the organisation, including our strategy and our plans for the future.
  • Although our staff are often under pressure and have demanding jobs, we try to look after their wellbeing and offer support whenever it is needed, including flexible and home working and family friendly approaches to their work life.
  • We try to ensure our decision making is transparent, has integrity and is driven by compassion rather than finances or expediency
  • We tailor our care for our patients based on their needs, their views and their life rather than trying to fit them into a ready-made framework or approach
  • We work with the people who use our services, who are the experts on what works for them, employing them and contracting them to deliver services, give their opinions and act as ambassadors for The Retreat.

These are the things that are important to us. These are our values.

This year the theme for World Values Day is Reconnecting. This means that in these turbulent, uncertain times we take the opportunity to connect with our sense of self, with the people around us and with what is happening in the wider world – using our values to change things for the better.

For The Retreat, this means challenging ourselves to ensure we are not neglecting our stakeholders and that we communicate our values in a positive way that will help us to stay connected or reconnect where those connections have been lost or neglected through the pandemic. Join us, connect with us, reconnect with us and we can work together to change the world of mental health for the better, building even further on the humane and innovative work the Quakers began in 1792.