What is the Gatsby Charitable Foundation?


The Gatsby Charitable Foundation is an endowed grant-making trust, based in London, founded by David Sainsbury in 1967.


The organisation is one of the Sainsbury Family Charitable Trusts, set up to provide funding for charitable causes. Although the organisation is permitted in its Trust Deed to make general grants within this broad area, its activities have generally been restricted to a limited number of fields. At the time of writing, these fields are:

  • Science and Engineering Education.
  • Plant science.
  • Neuroscience.
  • Poverty alleviation in Africa.
  • The arts.
  • Public policy.

However, these categories may change from time to time.

Amongst its activities, the Gatsby Charitable Foundation funds the Gatsby Computational Neuroscience Unit at University College London, the Sainsbury Management Fellowships, the Institute for Government based in Carlton House Terrace, and the Sainsbury Laboratory. It has long funded the Centre for Mental Health but is mostly withdrawing that funding in 2010. More recently, the foundation has become a co-sponsor of the University Technical Colleges programme, in conjunction with the Baker Dearing Trust.

According to the OECD, the Gatsby Charitable Foundation’s financing for 2019 development increased by 40% to US$18.9 million.

What is the Blackthorn Trust?


Blackthorn Trust is a UK charity in Maidstone, Kent which offers specialist therapies and rehabilitation through work placements in the Blackthorn Garden.

They offer help to people with mental health difficulties, chronic pain and type 2 diabetes. The charity’s work is based on the work of Rudolf Steiner (an Austrian philosopher, social reformer), and the charity aims to assist individuals to progress towards their full potential.

Brief History

In 1983, Dr David McGavin was in general practice in Maidstone. Through his work in the local community, he found out that conventional medicine was not able to help patients with chronic illness and were becoming increasingly passive and inactive, which was not helpful for their illness. He then met Hazel Adams (an art therapist) working on anthroposophical principles of Rudolf Steiner. As they worked on few of the Dr McGavin’s most severe patients, several noted improvements were made. More therapists were brought into the small practise but this became impractical. So he decided to set up a new trust and a new medical centre.

Blackthorn Medical Centre

This is owned by the Blackthorn Trust and part of it rented to the Practice. It was built in 1991, designed by Camphill Architects (from the Camphill Movement) and opened in December. As a result of the fundraising and hard work of patients, their families and friends, local and national industry, grant making trusts and the National Health Service. They may be prescribed anthroposophic medication and one of a number of anthroposophic therapies which are available on a one-to-one or group basis. These include biographical counselling, eurythmy therapy, rhythmical massage (developed by Ita Wegman) or art therapy. Therapies are offered at the discretion of the doctor.

It provides the usual family doctor services for around 7,200 people and is a GP training practice. Blackthorn Trust rents its premises via the NHS to the primary care team and the complementary practitioners.

The centre and trust is partially funded by the NHS, but needs to raise an additional £100,000 per year to cover its running costs. This is achieved by grants, donations, bequests and fund raising activities (including selling produce from the garden).

Blackthorn Garden

On the site of the grounds of the former psychiatric hospital of Oakwood Hospital, it occupies 22 acres and is under the direction of the Trust Management Team. Founded in 1991 and funded by the Trust. It has a flower garden, greenhouse and lath house (a framework of treated lumber covered with plastic netting, giving shade and protection for young plants). The lath house is a relic from the mental asylum. There is also a very large vegetable garden, a craft room for art therapy, a Cafe and kitchen serving organic lunches.

The garden has up to 60 people working in the garden per week.

In 1995, the garden and its therapies were evaluated by the Centre for Mental Health.

The aims of the garden:

  • To establish a place of rehabilitation through work for the mentally ill in the community.
  • To create a place of social integration and cultural activity in the Barming District of Maidstone.
  • To encourage the meeting and working together of the various disciplines concerned with mental health and community care.

The garden is opened, Monday to Saturday, 9:30 am to 3:30 pm. On Saturdays, workshops are open to the general public.

The garden also has a shop (run by volunteers) selling second-hand clothes and other used items.

The trust has various events during the year including Spring Fair, Summer Fair, Christmas Fairs. Selling local handmade crafts and specialist food stalls as well as the traditional stalls.


The local community and the people of Kent, Abbey National Trust, Alchemy Trust, Aylesford Samaritan Benevolent Fund, Big Lottery Fund, Esmée Fairbairn Foundation, European Social Fund, The Hambland Foundation, Hayward Foundation, Interreg IIIa, Smith’s Charity, Invicta Community Care NHS Trust, Kent Social Services, Kimberly Clark PLC, Lankelly Chase, Lloyds TSB PLC, Mental Health Foundation, The Percy Bilton Charity, The Pilgrim Trust, Rochester Bridge Trust, Smith Kline Beecham PLC, South East Regional Health Authority, Tudor Trust, West Kent Health Authority and Wimpy PLC.


  • Leisure and Outdoor Furniture Association (LOFA) Charity Award 1999.
  • NHS Beacon Training Practise 1999/2000.
  • Joint Winner HRH Prince of Wales Award for ‘Good Practice in Integrated Health’ 2001 and 2002.
  • Finalist in 2003 NHS Health & Social Care Awards, patient-centred cancer care section.
  • Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP)/ Leonard Cheshire / RCGP 2009 Disability Care Award.


  • Julia Cumberlege, Baroness Cumberlege Minister of Health (1992-1997) for the House of Lords.
  • Nigel Crisp Chief Executive NHS (2000-2006).
  • Jonathan Shaw (politician) Labour Minister for Disabilities in Department for Work and Pensions (2008-2010), in 2012 after losing his seat he has now become a Blackthorn Trust Member.
  • Charles, Prince of Wales.

What is the Centre for Mental Health (UK)?


The Centre for Mental Health is an independent UK mental health charity. It aims to inspire hope, opportunity and a fair chance in life for people of all ages with or at risk of mental ill health.

The Centre acts as a bridge between the worlds of research, policy and service provision and believes strongly in the importance of high-quality evidence and analysis. It encourages innovation and advocates for change in policy and practice through focused research, development and training.

Brief History

The Centre for Mental Health began in March 1985 as the National Unit for Psychiatric Research and Development (NUPRD). It was founded by the Gatsby Charitable Foundation, an independent grant-making trust set up by Lord Sainsbury of Turville to ‘advance education and learning in the science and practise of mental health care, to promote research into mental health and publish the useful results and to assist the provision of mental health care for those in need of it’. The aim was for NUPRD to tackle these issues by working in a different way to other organisations. NUPRD was initially staffed by a small group of people working in an office at Lewisham Hospital. After 1989, it was renamed the Research and Development for Psychiatry (RDP), moving into the current offices on Borough High Street.

RDP eventually became the ‘Sainsbury Centre for Mental Health’ in February 1992. It was at the centre of developing and helping to implement the National Service Framework for Mental Health, and in 1995, evaluated the Blackthorn Trust garden (in Maidstone, Kent) and its therapies for two years.

From 2006, the Centre changed its work to focus on mental health and employment, in which it already had an established programme, as well as a new area of work on mental health and the criminal justice system. A new look and logo were subsequently introduced in 2007 to accompany this change in focus.

The Gatsby Charitable Foundation, one of the Sainsbury Family Charitable Trusts, provided the Centre’s core funding each year from 1985 until 2009, when it announced that it would begin to spend out its funds, its annual grant to the Centre ceasing the following year. A final grant covering three years was then announced by the foundation in the summer of 2010. The charity has since been known as the Centre of Mental Health.


  • Criminal justice: Identifies effective methods of supporting and diverting people with mental health problems in the criminal justice system.
  • Employment: Develops and promotes new ways of helping people with mental health problems get and keep work.
  • Recovery: Helps mental health services across the UK to support people more effectively to make their own lives better on their own terms.
  • Children: Undertakes work which aims to improve the life chances of children through the support they need early in life.
  • Mental and Physical Health: Recognises the strong association between mental and physical ill health and works with partners to review the evidence on cost of co-morbidities, as well as carrying out related research on liaison psychiatry.
  • Workplace training: Train managers and staff to understand, identify and support people with depression and anxiety at work.