A MENTAL health charity is seeking new recruits to work in a brand new safe haven service opening in Basingstoke later this year.

Andover Mind has been commissioned by the Hampshire, Southampton & Isle of Wight CCG to provide a crisis service in Basingstoke for people who are in crisis in the areas of Andover and Basingstoke.

It’s a result of research by Public Health England, which identified that there’s not a crisis service for that community of people.

Kim Francis, director of wellbeing services at Andover Mind and project lead for the safe haven in Basingstoke, told the Gazette that the idea is to support people in “self defined crisis”, at night between the hours of 6pm and 10pm, “with the onus of a reduction in crisis patients showing up at the emergency department.”

The safe haven will use “de-escalation” techniques, to help people work through low mental health.

“With crisis, there is no criteria as such, it’s just if that person is finding it difficult to cope at that point in time,” said Kim.

“As a result of the pandemic, we are only going to see an increase in people. Maybe not straight away, but certainly going forwards, with regards to reliance and coping.”

She explained that the team will be equipped to deal with a whole range of crisis situations, from issues surrounding family dynamics, relationship breakdowns, financial worries, suicidal ideations or struggling to cope with mental illness.

“De-escalation is a technique which is about talking things through, to bring that stress, anxiety or feeling of helplessness to a point where they can manage through to the next day,” said Kim.

“In the evenings, as some of us know, we think about things more, and our thinking can become more concerning.

“It can be lots of little things, or just one little thing, and that’s all it takes for the situation to explode. Sometimes it’s about people not knowing where to go, so we have to take the reins for those individuals, to put things into a workable goal or plan.”

Basingstoke Gazette: Kim Francis, director of wellbeing services at Andover MindKim Francis, director of wellbeing services at Andover Mind

The safe haven will also be connecting up with other services, including 1-1 rapid response and the community mental health team, to offer a “seamless” transition between support and find the best onwards referrals.

It is due to open at 3 Vyne Road in September, with the exact launch day to be announced in due course.

Kim said: “We are still in our developmental stage at the moment. It is hoped that there will be a mix of virtual, as well as face-to-face. So people can phone in to get some advice and support. People can try some strategies before they even come in, and then check back in with us.

“There are lots of different models of safe haven right across the country and, as an organisation, Mind has many different models that local Mind branches provide. So we look at what is needed and we are involving service users and carers, the CCG, and Southern Health.

“It’s not just us saying this is what we’re going to do. We’re saying, this is the concept, what do you think will work and what concerns do you have?”

Today (Tuesday, May 18) the team held a recruitment drop-in session at the Tempus Business Centre in Houndmills between 10am and 2pm.

They are looking for a manager for the safe haven, who will have experience with mental health and a degree or equivalent in health and social care. Other positions include a team leader and a practitioner, as well as peer practitioners - which is a slightly different role.

“Their main qualification is to have lived through a mental health illness and have that key, empathetic understanding of what it’s like to receive help and support,” explained Kim.

She added: “Thank you to the foodbank for loaning their building to us.”

Anyone interested in more information, or to apply, visit www.andovermind.org.uk/vacancies, or email hradmin@andovermind.org.uk