Funding from NHS England will be used to create four mental health service ‘safe havens’ in Kent and Medway – with one to be sited in Thanet.
The havens will provide evening support seven days a week.
The successful bid, made by Kent and Medway Sustainability and Transformation Partnership (STP), will fund the havens aimed at helping people who need urgent mental health care and support across the county.
The news comes following an emotional mental health needs meeting in Ramsgate last month organised by district and county councillor Karen Constantine after the suicides of several residents who had been unable to access help.
During the meeting it was suggested that Thanet should have a crisis café.
This cause was taken up by members of Thanet United Warriors team – formerly SMS – and team manager Craig White, who have all been personally touched by the losses.
They have organised a charity football tournament to be held in memory of three Thanet men whose struggle with mental illness, and gaining professional support, tragically resulted in them taking their lives.
The Football United charity day in memory of Ben Stone, Marc Wood and Paul Connell will raise funds for mental health support group SpeakUp CIC.
The Football United team have met with SpeakUp CIC and wrote to the STP, with the reply revealing the safe haven funding.
This has been confirmed by the Kent & Medway STP.
Dr Jihad Malasi, Clinical Chair for Thanet Clinical Commissioning Group, said: “We have listened to the Thanet community and I am thrilled that our bid for funding for these important local services has been approved. Many people will find themselves struggling to cope with the stresses and pressures in their lives at some point, and will need somewhere to turn to for advice. These safe havens and crisis support groups will provide that support to those who urgently need it and will literally save lives.”
Lauretta Kavanagh, Mental Health Programme Director, Kent and Medway Sustainability and Transformation Partnership, said: “This is an absolutely fantastic contribution to help develop services for people at a time when they really need urgent care. It’s an exciting development and working with Mental Health Matters (MHM) and Kent and Medway NHS and Social Care Partnership Trust (KMPT), we are keen to get these projects off the ground as soon as we can.”
The safe havens will provide a supportive place for those who are in mental or emotional distress but do not require admission to a psychiatric inpatient ward.
They will provide support in a welcoming, safe, supportive, comfortable and non-clinical environment that promotes recovery, supports people to resolve issues that may have contributed to their mental distress and promotes maintaining their wellbeing in their community.
The STP says accessible community locations for the safe havens are currently being determined based on existing services and evidenced need, but it is expected one will be located in the Thanet area.
The full funding amount and chosen areas are expected to be announced next month.
The Kent health service has also started working to develop a peer support crisis group for Sundays in areas including Thanet where people can be referred from their GP, community mental health team and the future safe haven.
Thanet council has also been working with SpeakUp CIC and other agencies to look at what help the authority can provide in creating crisis cafes.
The Isle of Thanet News is also in discussions with TDC about the possibility of creating ‘chat benches’ on the isle.
Rachel Flint, one of the organisers of the Football United Charity Day, said: “Myself, Robert Hughes and Natasha Woolford have met with John Childs and David Rowden from SpeakUp CIC to introduce ourselves, to discuss what will be happening on the day of our event and where the funds we raise will go.
“All of us at Football United are very keen on getting a crisis café open in Thanet, not just by raising the funds but by supporting SpeakUp in gaining the permission and by volunteering our time once it is up and running.
“SpeakUp has a venue secured and also had professionals on board to volunteer to support the service users attending, unfortunately the plans were put on hold a few years back due to a lack of support from MPs, mental health professionals and a lack of funding. We are now in the process of contacting local MPS, and several chief commissioners and executives of mental health departments to gain support in getting this much needed crisis service opened.
“The research I have undertaken shows that in one town alone (Aldershot) psychiatric admissions fell by 33% and 66% of people accessed the crisis café rather than A&E which saved the NHS £20,000 in one year. Some 3000 people accessed the café in the first year.”
The charity football and fun day will be held at Newington school in Ramsgate on August 31 from 10am – 5pm.
There will be lots of local teams competing for the memorial cup which the organisers hope to be able to present on a yearly basis. There will attractions including a coconut shy, inflatable sports (with thanks to Clayton Holloway), beat the keeper, speed goal, two bouncy castles, face painting, hair braiding, coloured hair dye stall and a massive raffle.
Raffle tickets are available from the organisers and venues in Thanet. Find them at the Football United page here
A petition asking for a wellbeing cafe has also been set up by Football United and SpeakUp CIC. Find it here
Following on from the success of the public meeting on mental health, the next gathering will be on Child and Adolescent mental health services and will be held at the Comfort Inn Ramsgate 6.30pm – 8.30pm on September 27.
It will follow a similar format of allowing residents with concerns and issues to raise them with politicians and clinicians.
Cllr Constantine said “It’s important that people have a full opportunity to let decision makers know what’s working, and more importantly what’s not working. We are planning a couple more meetings to ensure residents voices are really heard and hopefully heeded. Improvements to Thanet’s mental health services can’t happen fast enough.”
New ACE Project
Ramsgate Town Councillor and psychotherapist Jane Hetherington has also revealed a new ACE project specifically targeted at Ramsgate will be launched with 15 new mental health workers trained to deal with early childhood trauma and the impact on the young person.
She said: “I was contacted by Dr Laura Austin-Croft because of my interest in Open Dialogue a Finnish approach to mental health and originally psychosis which has seen outcomes improve and far higher rates of recovery in Finland.
“I was fortunate enough to be sponsored by the NHS to be trained in this approach. Open Dialogue is now recognised and being developed internationally and the NHS has a pilot project here in Kent.
“Dr Croft is also working with Mick Haselden from The Wave Trust based in Tunbridge Wells who is co-leading on this initiative.
“The ACE service will be trauma informed and the thinking will be around early childhood trauma, emotional, physical and sexual abuse and the impact this has on mental health both as a child and later as an adult. Thanet’s poverty impacts the mental health statistics that are the worst in Kent for eating disorders, psychosis, personality disorder, and anxiety/depression.
“The ACE pilot project that is being developed here in Thanet is centred on awareness building and community-based action with the intervention being focused on reducing the impacts of Adverse Childhood Experiences at a system level thus improving health outcomes.
“Currently a range of options are being considered to deliver these interventions, such as therapeutic cafes, schools and community centres.”
Anyone suffering with suicidal thoughts should contact the Samaritans on 116 123.
Alternatively the Release the Pressure campaign urges people to seek help by calling Freephone 0800 107 0160 where support is available from trained and experienced staff 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.
The campaign website can be found at www.releasethepressure.uk
A list of community mental health services can also be found on the Live Well website at https://livewellkent.org.uk/in-your-area/thanet/