We Are 100% African Centred In Our Approach
The name Pattigift comes from Patti Gift (pictured) who is the maternal grandmother of Rameri Moukam. She was very community oriented. Patti Gift was born on 22nd January 1908 and spent her life in Sadlers, St Kitts. She was very much a stalwart of the community and was particularly noted for helping the children of the village.
The decision to choose her name comes from the tradition of acknowledging an honoured ancestor. By acknowledging one’s ancestors you also acknowledge those that went before and those who follow you.
“Facilitating the self-healing human perfectibility” is the expression we use; that captures the essence of Pattigift and the work it does.
But what do we mean by it?
Based on a traditional African view that all people have a natural tendency towards seeking to be perfect. By perfect we mean striving to be the best human being one can be. The ancients taught that the more ‘perfect’ we become the closer to God we become. It is about a progressive development of one’s character. The focus of our attention on a persons’ potential aids the spiritual, psychological and physical healing qualities we all possess.
Pattigift African Centred Mental Health Care as it was known originally was founded in 2003 by Rameri Moukam to address the serious psychological issues facing Black professionals and the wider community. Inspired by a belief in self-determination, she set about creating an organization through which long neglected needs could be addressed.
The objective was to have a positive impact upon the mental health of the Black community by means of culturally appropriate programmes and services. These included psychotherapy, training and a mental health hospital.
Pattigift CIC mental health hospital (pictured below) was the UK’s first and only mental health unit culturally orientated to work with African descent people.
Rather than the usual lip service to the notion of holistic care, the programme was imbued with the concepts of mind, body and spirit in all of its activities. It sought to address not only mainstream views of mental distress but to incorporate consideration of the effect of racism (both external and internal), colonialism, anti-self and alien self behaviours (Na’im Akbar). Emphasis was placed on the spirituality, strengths and resilience of the patient/client.
Concurrent with this was the need to address the low levels of cultural competency amongst mental illness care professionals. With this in mind the staff of the hospital were to be educated to use themselves therapeutically through the introduction of a cultural personal development programme linked to psychosocial concepts.
However due to a combination of naivety, broken promises and community ambivalence the project floundered. With the demise of the hospital Pattigift underwent a period of uncertainty and deep reflection. Our learning from this period coalesced into the need to maintain our quest for authenticity.
In 2010 we became Pattigift Therapy CIC.
In 2011 re-energised by a realisation that for the past four years we had been depressed, and had in fact been just ‘treading water’; and that we still had something of value to offer to the African heritage community we embarked on this new phase of our story.
Pattigift CIC has often tended to be perceived as a service providing interventions only to African heritage people; as well as being viewed as offering a specialist rather than a generic service.
We understand the desire of some to put us in a box of their own making. However though we remain committed to the transformation of the African psyche from one of false consciousness to a self-determining one; in the spirit of our African centredness we are also available to others who seek our assistance.
Providing a service to African heritage persons is not a ‘specialism’. A service based on their attitudes, values, what’s important to them; where they are at the centre is a mainstream service.
The very essence of being African centred is humanistic. Being African centred is not something devised in response to eurocentrism but is based on what it means to be African and human in the world. So we listen and learn from others but we do not put other cultural ways of being above our own.