Men­tal health ser­vice watch­dog voices fear as Safe Haven closes

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Star Courier (Surrey & Hants) - - FRONT PAGE - By how pos­i­tively peo­ple spoke about the Safe Haven ser­vice. They told us they sim­ply wouldn’t be here to­day with­out [ it]. That’s a strong mes­sage for us to hear. “The long- term fu­ture of some of th­ese life- sav­ing cafés re­mains un­clear and is caus­ing u

Safe Haven, in Cam­ber­ley, closed at the end of March and has been ‘ trans­ferred’ to its Alder­shot coun­ter­part.

Surrey now has only six Safe Havens – also known as Cri­sis Cafés – which pro­vide out- of- hours sup­port to peo­ple ex­pe­ri­enc­ing a men­tal health cri­sis or emo­tional dis­tress.

The clo­sure prompted a re­veal­ing re­port into Sur- rey’s men­tal health pro­vi­sion by HealthWatch Surrey. The watch­dog pub­lished its Keep­ing the Light On re­port last month, af­ter hear­ing con­cerns from ser­vice users about the fu­ture of Surrey’s Safe Havens.

The re­port, whose ti­tle was in­spired by a user who de­scribed the Safe Havens as ‘ a light­house in a storm’ is the prod­uct of 25 in- depth in­ter­views.

It ex­poses peo­ple’s ex­pe­ri­ences of men­tal health ser­vices in Surrey and re­veals the need for a se­cure fu­ture for men­tal health care pro­vi­sion.

Matthew Par­ris from Healthwatch Surrey said: “We were over­whelmed were dis­charged a care plan.

The re­port also high­lighted the ser­vice Safe Havens of­fers. One in­ter­vie­wee said: “If you want to talk to some­one you can, but there’s no pres­sure. You can just ‘ be’.”

An­other re­spon­dent said: “If I didn’t go to Safe Haven, I don’t know where I’d go.”

Mr Par­ris said Healthwatch Surrey is calling on com­mis­sion­ers ‘ to make long- term plans for what users and their car­ers tell us is a valu­able ser­vice.’

The watch­dog will pub­lish an im­pact re­port this sum­mer af­ter gath­er­ing re­sponses from Guild­ford & Waver­ley Clin­i­cal Com- with­out mis­sion­ing Group ( CCG) and Surrey County Coun­cil.

When ap­proached for com­ment, NHS Surrey Heath CCG ex­plained Safe Haven in Cam­ber­ley was trans­ferred to Alder­shot due to the low num­ber of peo­ple us­ing the ser­vice.

It was added: “There has been no re­duc­tion in in­vest­ment into the Safe Haven pro­gramme – ser­vices are sim­ply be­ing trans­ferred so that a more rounded, con­sis­tent ser­vice is in place.”

A County Coun­cil spokesper­son said the is­sue ‘ would be a bet­ter ques­tion for Surrey and Bor­ders Part­ner­ship as [ it is] the or­gan­i­sa­tion re­spon­si­ble for run­ning th­ese.’

How­ever when con­tacted, a Surrey and Bor­ders Part­ner­ship NHS Trust spokesman said: “I was not aware the Safe Haven had closed, I don’t know why [ it] put our num­ber on [ its] web­site.”

Guild­ford & Waver­ley C C G did not r e - spond when a s k - ed for a c o m ment. -

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