A charity helping people living with mental illness has been given more than £5,000 to help run drop-in sessions at its base in Warwick. The funding, from Warwickshire Police and Crime Commissioner Philip Seccombe, is helping Rethink Mental Illness to provide the special sessions which aim to give its users better awareness of personal safety.
During the sessions, service users can pop in for a coffee and chat about any concerns they have with specialist advisors, as well as pick up special information packs containing advice on how to stay safe and avoid becoming a victim of crime.
Rethink Mental Illness is a national charity which operates within South Warwickshire with the goal of helping everyone affected by mental illness to have a better quality of life. It works with a wide spectrum of service users, from people who are mentally well and trying to maintain their good mental health, right the way through to people with severe and enduring mental health conditions.
Nicola Hall, Services Manager for Rethink Mental Illness in Warwickshire, said: “We recognised that some of the service users we work with can be vulnerable to crime, so we applied for the funding from the Commissioner to develop the personal safety programme. We find that an informal approach works best, so we hold regular drop-in sessions at our premises in Warwick, where our service users can come in, have a cup of tea or a coffee and chat with mental health workers in welcoming surroundings. The idea is to educate people about personal safety and to offer advice and support where needed.
“The funding has also helped us to produce safety packs which include a variety of items, including personal alarms and purse bells, as well as personal safety booklets. These have a wide range of information about keeping safe, for example when they travel on public transport or when they use social media, as well as guidance on topics like home security and safe online banking.
“We work through the booklets with our service users and if they come to us with any specific concerns we can do work with them individually to make sure they are addressed.”
Warwickshire Police and Crime Commissioner Philip Seccombe visited one of the drop in-sessions recently to talk to staff and service users and came away impressed by what he had seen.
He said: “Mental health has an effect on crime by making people become more vulnerable and we know that a significant amount of police time today is spent helping people who are experiencing a mental health crisis. It’s crucial that there are good support services locally that can help people who experience mental illness, so I want to work with all of the agencies in Warwickshire to give better protection and greater help and support for the most vulnerable in our society.
“I’m delighted to be able to give Rethink Mental Illness this assistance and it’s great that the funding is being used for these drop-in sessions to provide personal safety advice, which I know their service users really appreciate and will help to keep them safe and reduce their vulnerability.”