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Crisis calls to police down by 75% thanks to Deal wellbeing café for mental heath sufferers, Talk It Out

By Eleanor Perkins

Crisis calls to police are down by 75% in Deal after the opening of a volunteer-run wellbeing café for mental health sufferers.

The astonishing statistic has been confirmed by Kent’s Police and Crime Commissioner Matthew Scott who is backing the Talk It Out hub with a second grant.

His £10,000 sum will secure the weekday service for the next three years as it moves from the Landmark Centre to its new venue Deal Ability in Victoria Road on Wednesday, January 2.

Grant fundraiser Colin Smith, wellbeing cafe founder Tracy Carr and PCC Matthew Scott
Grant fundraiser Colin Smith, wellbeing cafe founder Tracy Carr and PCC Matthew Scott

Mr Scott told the Mercury said: "Talk It Out is a fantastic community initiative.

"In 2017/18 I provided them with £9,690 from my Mental Health and Policing Fund to help cover their rental costs.

"With that relatively small sum of money they have supported some very vulnerable people - including some at risk of suicide - and cut the number of times Kent Police were called to assist with their clients by three-quarters.

"That in turn frees up police officers to spend more time dealing with crime and antisocial behaviour instead.

"People suffering mental health crisis need the right support from the right people at the right time. That means making support available at the right place too.

"When Talk It Out applied for a further £10,000 earlier this year I was delighted to be able to continue to support them, and I look forward to seeing them moving into their new premises in January 2019."

Talk It Out was founded as a weekly support group by Tracy Carr and retired psychotherapist Marie Jordan seven years ago.

It grew to include a private Facebook page where people could share their problems and in June 2016, saw the opening of its wellbeing café in the High Street.

It continue to be a non clinical environment offering advice and peer support from 11am until 1pm Monday to Friday..

Up to 100 members week regularly attend, some of whom are on the verge of suicide.

Mrs Carr said: "The police have said it's taken the pressure off of them and we're delighted to be helping but also to be given financial support.

"On average we have 15 to 20 members and day and some people come every day. This really is is their lifeline."

Supporter Colin Smith who sent off the application for the grant has calculated that the service, if professionally run, would cost more than £50,000 a year.

Caption: Hayley Sawnkins with friends Debbie Haynes, Tracy Carr and Marie Jordan at the Talk It Out wellbeing centre.
Caption: Hayley Sawnkins with friends Debbie Haynes, Tracy Carr and Marie Jordan at the Talk It Out wellbeing centre.

It relies on 12 unpaid volunteers including therapists Alan Cox, Jeff Cockfield and problem solving counsellor Jonathan Crawley.

Mr Smith said: "The centre has been a great success and we are very grateful for the grant support provided by the Police Crime Commissioner's Fund.

"Without this grant many more suicides would have happened in the Deal area."

The hub's move is to cut costs and help cater for its growing numbers.

It will be marked with the launch of a new group and extra activities such as cooking lessons using the onsite kitchen facilities.

Tracy Squire, mum of killed cyclist Daniel Squire, will be leading a bereavement group called Daniel's Healing Hearts launching at 6.30pm on Thursday, January 3.

She said: "Bereavement comes in many waves and sometimes we cannot understand it but if we can let them off load with a chat a cake and maybe a small piece of laugher we can help heal their hearts."

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