18 February 2020

The doors to new crisis cafes in Bedford and Luton open this week to provide support and a safe place for anyone experiencing a mental health crisis.

They will offer free help and advice for anyone 18 or older and are being run by Mind BLMK on behalf of the Trust, which provides mental health care across Bedfordshire and Luton.

The Bedford crisis café will open at Florence Ball House on Bedford Health Village, Kimbolton Road, on Thursday, February 20 and run from 5-11pm.

It will operate on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays at launch before quickly progressing to a seven-day-a-week service.

The Luton café will be at Mind BLMK’s site in Dumfries Street. Its doors open on Wednesday, February 19 and run 5-11pm on Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays before also progressing to a seven-day-a-week service.

There is no need to call and book an appointment, simply drop in to one of the cafes to receive support.

They will be run by friendly coordinators, recovery workers, peer support workers (PSWs) and volunteers trained to offer coping mechanisms and management techniques to help people work through their crisis.

The teams will also be able to refer and direct people to further services if required.

The cafes were identified as the preferred support option during a round of public focus groups held to shape a new 24-hour extended mental health crisis care across Bedfordshire and Luton.

The Trust and Mind BLMK are working together to develop an enhanced crisis care service that provides an accessible, service user focused response for people experiencing a mental health crisis. People will also be able to refer themselves to the crisis team directly through NHS 111.

The crisis cafes will be a key element in the new-look structure by providing fast, personal help without the need for people to spend hours in A&E.

ELFT’s Crisis Resolution/Home Treatment Teams across Bedfordshire and Luton have also increased their service hours and are due to start accepting self-referrals from the public.

“This is all about building a responsive mental health crisis support network shaped with the input of healthcare professionals, service users and other members of the public,” said Dr Angharad Ruttley, the Trust's Clinical Director for Crisis Care in Bedfordshire and Luton.