Crisis Café receives government backing

    Matthew Scott
    Kent Police & Crime Commissioner, Matthew Scott has pledged his support to the café

    A TONBRIDGE charity has been awarded funding as part of a £8.4million scheme to ensure that those in a mental health crisis do not end up in police cells.

    West Kent Mind will receive in the region of £9,000 to set up the Tonbridge Crisis Café, which will open ‘as soon as possible’ in their premises at 3 St Mary’s Road.

    The centre will be open at weekends to help prevent a mental health problem escalating into a ‘crisis’ that requires police or NHS attention.

    According to the county’s Police and Crime Commissioner, Matthew Scott, the issue places great strain on officer’s resources, with an estimated third of Kent Police’s time taken up dealing with people in a mental health crisis.

    The café will be designed to offer a place of safety for those experiencing problems as an alternative to a police cell or a hospital bed, which can often be more distressing and further worsening an individual’s mental wellbeing.

    CEO of West Kent Mind, Jill Roberts, said: “There is a gap in community support over the weekend, which can lead to unnecessary stress and suffering and a tendency for people to seek help from emergency services. This is expensive and can often be avoided if people are offered the right kind of support when they need it.

    “We are very much looking forward to working in partnership with the NHS and the Police to deliver this much needed support service.”

    The bids for the funding were placed by the Kent and Medway Mental Health Crisis Concordat, which is regional branch of a national agreement between services and agencies. Originating in 2014, it sets out how organisations will work together to ensure that people get the help they need when they are having a mental health crisis.