In 2022, VAL supported Beacon Care to successfully bid for £29,400 to host the Crisis Café situated in Lutterworth. They have shared the story of their journey with us to give an insight to potential future Crisis Café providers about what developing and hosting a Crisis Café really entails.
Beacon is a local Community Interest Company (CIC) established in 2017 based in The Harborough District.
Beacon are proud to have been awarded funding to start the crisis café in July 2022. As a small not for profit company, Beacon is led by workers with a professional background in Mental Health, substance misuse, advice, information, and advocacy. We value, understand, and promote the benefits of working in partnership with individuals, their carers, and other organisations within the local community. This ensures that café attendees can be signposted to appropriate and relevant support agencies promptly.
Crisis Cafes offer support for people who need immediate help with their mental health. The café offers a safe and friendly space for members of the local community who may be struggling with their mental and emotional wellbeing. Supportive trained staff are available to listen and provide practical coping strategies. Those in severe crisis can be offered access to NHS assessment if needed.
The Wellbeing Hub located with Lutterworth Sports Centre was identified as an easily accessible and suitable venue to base the café/ drop in facility. This appears to be working well. Sports centre staff have been welcoming to those people needing assistance and ensure that those presenting for the first time are directed to the Wellbeing Hub with care and sensitivity.
The drop-in sessions are staffed by a Registered Mental Health Nurse and two Recovery workers, alongside volunteers with lived experience of mental ill health.
Two sessions are offered weekly – Wednesday evenings from 5pm- 9pm and Friday mornings from 9am – 1.00pm.
Staff arrive half an hour before sessions commence. This allows the room to be set up and arranged in a way that ensures that attendees can be seen on a one-to-one basis in the first instance at small tables. This also allows those that do not feel able to cope with interacting with others a safe space to feel comfortable. A-boards are placed outside of the café entrance and in the main foyer of the Sports Centre with a welcoming message inviting people to drop into the café hub.
Within the room the use of folding screens enables a further area to be provided with a larger table where those wishing to socialise with others and gain mutual peer support can chat. Hot and cold drinks are provided and on Friday morning sessions attendees can enjoy “tea and toast” if they wish.
Café attendees were consulted in their preference of table positioning during the first few weeks after opening. Feedback indicated that having the larger more sociable area at the rear of the room helped people feel more relaxed. It also ensured that those attending the café for the first time did not feel more anxious or intimated by the presence of a larger group when first entering the room.
During the first three months of the Café opening (July -Sept 2022) there were 142 attendances at the café sessions. 78 were new attendees. We now have an ongoing core group of attendees and a regular turnover of new and drop-in clients seeking support with many issues including depression, anxiety, suicidal ideation, substance use, loneliness, isolation and carer support. We offer further support via referral to our Advice and Information service for help with practical issues such as benefit assistance and regularly signpost to other agencies for more specialised help with debt and housing issues.
Feedback from attendees indicates that there is a need for more wellbeing groups and activities in the area as loneliness and isolation is a major factor affecting mental wellbeing in rural areas.
We receive regular positive feedback from our attendees – with a recent comment stating that they find the café
“approachable, friendly and supportive – I always feel better when I leave”.
Find out more about Crisis Cafe Grants
Round 2 of these grants are now live – we are expecting to fund upto 10 additional cafes.
For details of how to apply and our FAQs click here.
If you would like to speak to someone or you are interested in opening your own café, email Heather Shawley on: firstname.lastname@example.org