Safe Haven Centre opens its doors to clients for face to face support for the first time

A new crisis support service run by mental health organisation Second Step and launched by Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire Clinical Commissioning Group (BNSSG CCG), in partnership with Avon & Wiltshire Mental Health Trust (AWP), is to open its doors for face to face support for the first time on Saturday 27 February.

The Safe Haven Centre, which provides a safe space for people in acute emotional distress, is based in Weston-super-Mare’s town centre.

The centre opened in May 2020, but due to the pandemic, it was repurposed to provide remote support. The team have been providing a telephone support service for some of the most vulnerable people in North Somerset and South Gloucestershire, as referred by AWP’s Community Teams. Since its launch in May until the end of January , the Safe Haven team has supported 246 people through 1538 phone contacts.

The centre is the first of its kind for North Somerset and was co-designed with local service users and clinicians. Their feedback informed the naming of the Safe Haven Centre and helped with the design of the centre’s ‘shop front’.

The new service will be a mix of remote and face to face support, and will be able to support 12 people every evening.

Health and safety continues to be of utmost importance for both clients and staff with strict Covid-19 safety measures in place at all times. The new centre will include test and trace and operate with a thorough cleaning schedule. It also has been fitted with specialised air conditioning to ensure air flow throughout the building.

Second Step Chief Executive Aileen Edwards, said:

“The Safe Haven team has been doing some amazing work supporting people in crisis over the last few difficult months. We’re delighted to be finally opening the centre, albeit in a limited way, and to offer face to face support in a Covid-safe environment”.

Dr Mike Jenkins, local GP and Clinical Lead for Integrated Care for BNSSG CCG, said:

“Safe Haven Centre staff have provided invaluable remote support throughout the coronavirus pandemic through their work with Avon & Wiltshire Mental Health Trust.

“However, through our joint engagement work with people with lived experience of mental health, we know how important face-to-face support is for mental health and wellbeing. It’s great that this support is now available through a North Somerset-based service.

“We encourage anyone who is in emotional distress to reach out. There is help and support available.”

The centre is open seven days a week, between 6pm and midnight. People aged 16 and over can self-refer to the service or be referred by a relevant professional – such as a GP, police officer, paramedic, social worker or voluntary organisation. Additionally, parents and carers are able to contact the centre if they have worries about a loved one. While ongoing social distancing restrictions are in place, the centre will operate on a bookings only basis with no drop-ins to the centre.

Referrals can be made to: refer.safehaven@nhs.net or by calling 01934 313480. Go to second-step.co.uk/safehaven to find out more.

Justine from user-led group Clarity, North Somerset Independent Mental Health Network, said:  

“I really welcome this service for people experiencing crisis. We helped choose Second Step to run it. Having, much later, needed to use its telephone service myself I can say it was great. I have since been part of a group of clients helping with decisions around the physical set-up of the building ready for face to face opening.”

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