World Suicide Day highlights the important work that can be done to support people experiencing a mental health crisis, but day-in day-out all year round ELFT staff work to support people before they reach crisis point. The Lighthouse Project is one such example. It is a joint project created and run by staff, service users, carers and Trust Governors. Team Clinical Lead for Recovery Jane Kelly describes how it works:
What is the Lighthouse project?
An out of hours project that was set up by the local community in Leighton Buzzard.
It came about because carers in Leighton Buzzard were really concerned about the lack of provision in their local area - especially out of hours - and the increase in loneliness and isolation.
The Lighthouse is not a crisis centre. It is open to all in the community who feel they need extra support from each other and a place to go to feel safe and be valued.
It is open 5-9 three nights a week ( Mon, Tue and Fri)
What services does it offer for people who are experiencing moderate to severe mental ill-health?
It offers support and acceptance via the volunteers and group facilitated by those who attend. They offer peer support, friendship and often give out practical advice and information.
There is a qualified member of staff available if a visitor wants a 1:1 session but we do not offer a formal Mental health assessment and if someone is in crisis and requires more structured input we would still advice them to contact their regular MH team or their GP.
We do offer support and time for those who are distressed but we cannot offer any formal follow up care or ongoing formal counselling.
We work within the Recovery Framework and encourage self management and peer support. We discuss coping strategies, relapse work and relaxation techniques etc.
We are not badged as a secondary MH provision.
What impact has the Lighthouse service already had on people you or your colleagues come into contact with?
We have a steady number of people who come every session and have really rated it highly - talking about finally finding a place where they feel accepted and not judged.
They will be telling their stories about the impact The Lighthouse has on them at the Trust AGM conference in October.
It has been very inspirational to set up a totally co-produced service from the very first discussions about what they wanted to seeing the service up and running and growing each week.
Some people have come in real distress and have left feeling more positive and hopeful after spending time with one of the clinical staff and feeling both listened too and respected.
The Lighthouse Project is located at: Whichellos Wharf, The Elms, Stoke Road, Leighton Buzzard, Bedfordshire, LU7 2TD