After giving up her job at the turn of the millennium, Janice Hogg has devoted her life to working with people with mental health issues in Tameside.
Through her charity, Making A Difference Tameside (MADT), she aims to help people with mental problems to develop self-confidence and life skills, through workshops and activities.
In that time the 67-year-old has often worked seven day weeks and has never benefited financially.
But after years of flying solo, she has now been joined by her granddaughter, 21-year-old Yasmin Hogg, who studied psychology whilst living in Australia and has injected new enthusiasm into the charity – including plans for a coffee shop that will be staffed by patients of the scheme.
Speaking to MM, Yasmin explained that the charity focuses on helping patients ‘become more independent, learning new life skills and growing their self-esteem’.
And it is this approach – which utilises arts and crafts, workshops with professionals and even an allotment – which she believes makes their charity successful.
“We have a lot of people who been suffering from mental health issues for a long time, and they’ve tried other things but nothing is working for them,” she said.
“They come here and there’s such a drastic change in them, you can see it straight away.
“A lot of people, once they’ve been her for six or twelve months and they feel they’ve recovered, stick around to help us as volunteers because they’re so passionate about it and they want to show people how much of a difference it can make.”
It is hoped that the addition of the coffee shop – named Oasis – will help MADT to take their work to the next level, with patients given the opportunity to ease themselves into a professional environment.
They have found a building in Ashton town centre, and recently secured lottery funding, which will come into effect in March, but are looking to raise the funds for the equipment via a Crowdfunder appeal.
Such a move is a big step for what is essentially a two-(wo)man operation, but Yasmin is confident that they can make it a success, though she did admit that she had ulterior motives for advocating a move into coffee sales.
“Before I moved back from Australia they’d been looking at a way to expand, and they were specifically looking for a way to help people who felt they’d recovered to integrate back into the community,” she said.
“I worked in a lot of coffee shops when I was in Australia – and I love coffee – so I said ‘why don’t we open a coffee shop?’
“It’s quite hard to get a job after you’ve been ill because of the stigma.
“We’re going to have members who are beginning to feel better working in the shop, where they can learn life skills like waitressing, using the tills and I’m going to be able to give them barista training.
“It’s another way to help people to feel more confident to go on and get a job, which is an important step in ensuring that they don’t backtrack.”
In reality, MADT is a family affair on all levels, with Janice and Yasmin being assisted by the middle generation – Yasmin’s father Spencer – as well as her older sister Chantelle and cousins when it comes to renovating the new site.
But even with all that help, Yasmin admitted that it was tough work getting the building how they wanted it – and said that it isn’t an experience she’d like to repeat.
“I never want to renovate a house now, I’ll never buy a really old one!” she laughed.
“It’s so much hard work, much harder than you think.
“We’ve done all the building work ourselves because we didn’t have the money to pay people to come in and do it. Thankfully we’ve had a lot of help from members and volunteers.
“But my nana never would have thought that it would get this so big or that we’d keep it going for so long.
“I’d love there to be a separate thing for teenagers – which I would do!
“That’s really what I’m most passionate about so I’m really excited that we’ve starting to go towards that now, and in the future I’d love to see it grow even more towards that.”
To find out more about MADT and to donate to their Crowdfunder, click here.