This film is part of Free

Something to Offer

An interesting documentary on psychiatric provision, set at a Plymouth day hospital and originally produced for nursing recruitment.

Documentary 1969 22 mins



Filmed at a Plymouth day hospital, this is a consistently interesting documentary on mental health and psychiatric services. Commissioned by the DHSS as a psychiatric nursing recruitment tool, it started life in a version called On Hand to Listen. Something to Offer is a shorter edit intended for television: it was broadcast by ITV, serving both the recruitment campaign and a broader public education remit.

The film was made by Samaritan Films – nothing to do with the Samaritans but an independent production company whose specialisms included social issues films commissioned by charities and government. That the film so easily transferred to TV illustrates a trend in sponsored documentary film that was growing: to borrow from TV technique. Its low-key, sober but warm and fluent style, marked by Peter Jessop’s mobile 16mm camerawork and a mixture of observation and interview, is very reminiscent of television documentary. It captures a time of great change in psychiatry, moving away from stand-alone mental institutions to integration with general hospitals and what was later termed care in the community. This all said, its perspective on the subject is, as its government paymasters would have wished, ultimately promotional rather than critical.