This week, we remember Dr. Alan Cashmore, a child and family psychiatrist and early supporter of West Side Family Place. You may be familiar with the Alan Cashmore Centre, formerly known as Blenheim House, a service for infant and childhood mental health, which was renamed after him in 1992 in recognition of his work in the field.
Dr. Cashmore was introduced to West Side Family Place through co-founder Ellen Leslie back in the seventies when she learned that he was very concerned about the number of parents, especially mothers, experiencing isolation and depression at home, and the impact on both the women and their children. He was keen to learn more about how West Side Family Place helped children and parents, and offer his assistance.
As a result, Dr. Cashmore provided letters of recommendation for grant applications. It was apparent to the team that Dr. Cashmore cared about the project and saw its value in the community. Ellen remembers Dr. Cashmore stopping by for lunch on a regular basis, frequently sharing his wealth of knowledge about child development and highlighting the advantages of play therapy, particularly sand tray therapy, which was one of his specialties.
Jenny Cashmore, Dr. Cashmore’s daughter and a mental health occupational therapist, comments:
“I recall that he dedicated a lot of time to West Side Family Place because it was important to him. He was always advocating for equity, for those people who didn’t have a community or who were invisibly struggling inside their homes.
“I’m proud of his legacy. I’m glad he jumped in to help West Side Family Place. That West Side Family Place is still thriving fills me with such awe. A lot of people who deliver non-profit wellness services struggle every year to maintain their funding. I have so much respect for the people or institutions who work outside of the government health system and have been able to keep going for this long with the values they started with. To me, there is so much strength there.”
Thank you to Jenny for talking to us about her father. Jenny had a moving first visit to Family Place, and it felt like a full circle moment seeing the facility as an adult, which her father had supported when she was 10. Dr. Cashmore truly helped propel West Side Family Place to success, and for that we are grateful.