A crisis support service has been launched by Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire Clinical Commissioning Group (BNSSG CCG), in partnership with Avon & Wiltshire Mental Health Trust (AWP), to provide urgent mental health support during the coronavirus outbreak.
The North Somerset Safe Haven Centre was due to open this week in Weston’s town centre to provide a safe space for people in acute emotional distress. Social distancing measures mean the opening of the planned face-to-face service is not currently possible. Instead staff members have been redeployed to provide a temporary, telephone-based service for the most vulnerable people in North Somerset and South Gloucestershire who have been referred by the AWP Crisis Team.
The Centre is run by mental health charity Second Step and was commissioned by BNSSG CCG and will open for face-to-face appointments when social distancing measures have been relaxed. It is the first of its kind for North Somerset and was co-designed with input from local service users and clinicians.
The telephone service, which will operate from 4pm-10pm, seven days a week, will be run by skilled and experienced staff who will contact up to 14 people every evening who are under the care of AWP.
Second Step CEO, Aileen Edwards, said: “We’re delighted to be able to adapt our initial plans to open this week and be able to offer this service to help the most vulnerable people in the area during the coronavirus outbreak
“The telephone service allows us to retain recently recruited staff members who have a wealth of experience, passion and skills for supporting people in crisis. It means we will be able to support people during this very unsettling time, when people’s mental health could be at an increased risk of crisis.”
BNSSG CCG Chief Executive Officer, Julia Ross, added: “The Safe Haven centre is an important new service for the area. It has been designed in partnership with people who have lived experience of mental health crisis, and who wanted to see more support available in the community rather than hospital.
“While we are unable to open the service in person just yet, our thanks go to Second Step, as well as colleagues in AWP and The Bristol Sanctuary, who have worked together to get this vital phone-based service up and running to support people during the Covid-19 outbreak.
“We know this will be an additionally challenging time for many, and we will continue to ensure the right support is in place for those who need it.”
The additional support service is currently available to people over the age of 18 who have been referred by AWP but when the centre opens in Weston for face-to-face appointments it will be open to all residents over 16 without a referral.