The Home Secretary visited Horsham this week to launch a new mental health scheme.
The ‘alternative place of safety’ pilot was officially launched by Conservative MP and cabinet member Theresa May on Monday March 9 and is the first of its kind in the country.
The scheme has seen a new room opened at the Richmond Fellowship residential care home, in Blatchford House, Kings Road, providing police with a safe place to send people they have detained who are suffering from a severe mental health issue and who may cause harm to others or themselves.
The new suite, including a comfortable bed and shower facilities, offers better conditions than a police cell where sufferers are currently detained if no suitable option can be found.
Mrs May said: “People experiencing a mental health crisis need a bed, not a cell. They need compassion, medical help and a safe – non-intimidating – place to go to.
“I hope that the pilot we are launching today will be just the start of the changes we can make.”
People experiencing a mental health crisis need a bed, not a cell.Theresa May, Home Secretary
Sussex Partnership Trust, Sussex Police, South East Coast Ambulance Service (SECamb) and The Richmond Fellowship have all been working in partnership along with the local authorities and funding from the Home Office to roll out the pilot which is set to run for 12 weeks.
David Davis, paramedic and staff-elected governor for SECAmb, said: “I am absolutely delighted that this is available. It is about treating people who are greatly vulnerable with dignity and respect.”
The head of social care for special service at Sussex Partnership Trust, Marian Trendell, said it was a ‘privilege and a honour’ to be part of the new alternative place of safety pilot.
She said: “This is the very first in the country and has the backing of the Home Secretary. It is a privilege and an honour to be chosen to pilot it here in our area.”
“It is better for someone who has a mental health need to go to a place of safety than to be stuck in a cell.”