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Monday, 21 September 2020


Five new support services open in London as mental health needs rise

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FIVE new mental health support services will open in London for adults experiencing a mental health crisis. They are run by the charity Hestia, who have opened the support services in response to concerns around the impact of the coronavirus lockdown on mental health.

Two ‘Together Cafés’ in Newham and Tower Hamlets, funded by the East London Foundation Trust (ELFT), will provide face-to-face support to those who are struggling, with an option of support via phone and video call too.

Three ‘Coves’, in Hillingdon, Kensington and Chelsea and Westminster, and Brent and Harrow, will provide virtual, phone-based and video call support. The Coves are funded by the Central and North West London NHS Foundation Trust (CNWL).

Due to the restrictions of Britain’s lockdown, many people are reaching a point of crisis faster as existing mental health challenges are heightened due to isolation, grief and financial concerns. Opportunities for intervention have also decreased, with some individuals feeling less able to communicate their struggles to friends, family or professionals.

Hestia’s new services aim to decrease pressure on A&E and other services and provide a critical space for early intervention for people looking to speak to a local support service.

Support in all five services will be available through bookable appointments for those over the age of 18 in mental health distress. Those looking to access the Together Cafés must be referred through the East London Foundation Trust’s crisis response team and all referrals for the Coves will go through CNWL’s Urgent Care Services.

The trained staff at the services will help people to reduce their immediate anxiety, work with them to formulate a safety plan and provide information on local resources that may help them moving forward.

The two Together Cafés will operate in line with strict government guidance on social distancing, with a maximum of two people allowed in the services at any one time.

Elvio Correia, Area Manager for Hestia’s Mental Health Crisis Services, explained:

“Coronavirus is having a huge impact on mental health, with many people finding that they are reaching a point of crisis a lot quicker than usual. Our mental health services will enable people to get help with their mental health during the pandemic; there will be someone there who can listen to them and offer support and information.”

Shakil, who has used Hestia’s mental health services and is now a volunteer at Hestia’s Recovery Café in Tooting, said:

“I was referred to the Recovery Café by my local mental health service. I was in a terrible way and I was welcomed by a member of staff who gave me a cup of tea, took my information and helped me put together a support plan. I began to attend regularly and after a while, I could feel my loneliness seeping away and my emotions begin to calm. Over this past year, I have found purpose and regained stability in my life.”

Melanie King, ELFT’s Crisis Pathway Service Manager for Tower Hamlets said:

“ELFT are delighted to be working with Hestia to support Tower Hamlets residents. Isolation and financial pressures are making life hard for so many people right now.

The Together café staff will listen and offer guidance. I urge people to pick up the phone and book an appointment if they are feeling low.”

Ade Odunlade, Managing Director for Mental Health Services at Central and North West London NHS Foundation Trust, said:

“Mental health services are fully open in the borough but we want to invest in more choice for people in distress. One size doesn’t suit everyone. This Hestia service – The Cove – will grow into another choice; we will be moving to a face to face service when social distancing permits and hours will expand. This is good news.”

All five services will be open 365 days a year and will remain open beyond the coronavirus pandemic.

The Together Café in Tower Hamlets is open Monday to Friday from 5pm to 9pm, and weekends and Bank Holidays from 12pm to 9pm.

The Together Café in Newham, which opened on Monday 25th May, will be open Monday to Thursday 5pm to 9pm, Friday to Sunday 5pm to 11pm, and Bank Holidays 5pm to 9pm.

The three Coves, in Hillingdon, Kensington and Chelsea and Westminster, and Brent and Harrow, are open Monday to Sunday, from 12pm to 8pm.

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