CCG funding leads to expansion of Well Bean cafés

People in Leeds will benefit from an expansion of the city’s Well Bean mental health crisis cafes following a cash boost of £314,000 from the local NHS.

The recent funding announcement enables Touchstone, in partnership with Leeds Survivor Led Crisis Service, to expand its Well Bean crisis cafés with a new venue planned for west Leeds. This is in addition to the two existing Well Bean crisis cafés in the city.

The funding has been provided by NHS Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCG) enabling the three Leeds crisis cafés to run a service seven evenings a week over the next two years.

Touchstone has also opened a Well Bean café in Huddersfield – with a Dewsbury site in the pipeline – in partnership with local voluntary sector organisation, the Basement Recovery Project.

Jim Leyland, operations director inclusion at Touchstone, said: “We are delighted to build on our current successes and support for people at risk of self harm and suicide. We aim to reduce social isolation and to contribute to a city-wide response to safeguarding people in crisis.

“In the longer term we hope that people at the point of an emerging mental health crisis will contact or come to the Crisis Cafés first, rather than call blue light services or attend A&E.”

The mental health charities run two successful Well Bean cafés in Leeds at Lincoln Green, close to St James’ Hospital, and at Touchstone House, Beeston.  The rapid growth of the Well Bean initiative follows the success of the original café at Lincoln Green, which has had more than 4,000 people through its doors since opening in November 2016. Between October and December 2018 there were 490 referrals to the café and 421 visits.

Jim continued: “We are proud of the fact that Well Bean are some of the first crisis cafés in the UK. Also, we now are getting interest from other cities – including in the USA – who want to replicate the model.”

The late-night cafés provide people with a safe space and support if they find themselves with nowhere else to turn to when other mental health services are closed.

Tim Ryley, Chief Executive for NHS Leeds CCG, added: “The NHS Long Term Plan has reiterated the ambition of the NHS to meet the needs of people who require help when they experience mental ill health. As a CCG we continue to look at opportunities to increase the range of services available to people and more importantly offer different ways to access services. We know that one size does not fit all. However we also know that people experiencing mental ill-health should be seen at a more appropriate setting rather than A&E. We’re really pleased with the evidence provided by the Well Bean crisis cafes and are confident that the new service will offer the right care, in the right place and at the right time.”

Leeds residents can self-refer to the Well Bean cafés on 07760 173476, or ask a professional health or social care worker to refer them. The number for professionals to ring is 07760 173505.