Supporting the community with mental health Safe Havens

Why change was needed

Mental health and emotional wellbeing are really important factors in keeping people well but for those struggling with their mental health, it can sometimes be difficult to know where to turn. Poor mental health can touch people at any time, but many have experienced anxiety and low mood these past two years due to the Covid-19 pandemic and the resulting lockdowns. 

Although there are mental health services in Coventry and Warwickshire, people needing urgent support may not know where to access services out-of-hours during evenings and weekends.

There are various ‘safe place’ and ‘crisis café’ models in place across the country which offer support for people experiencing distress. Evidence from the Aldershot Model has illustrated ‘being able to access the Crisis Café at an early stage has been shown to provide vulnerable people with a sense of control, de–escalation of crisis and avoidance of needing to enter mainstream services such as section 136, mental health act assessments, ambulance, referral to secondary care, and assessments at A&E.’  

By introducing Safe Havens in Coventry and Warwickshire, individuals who are, or could be at risk of, developing a mental health crisis but who do not require a specialist clinical intervention have a safe place to get the help they need.

What we did

The need for an out-of-hours service was highlighted by the Acute Out of Area (OOA) steering group, who are working to support a national must-do target of zero OOA placements by end of Sept 2021.

In response, the local authorities worked to set up the Safe Havens in their area.

Warwickshire County Council (WCC) commissioned the Warwickshire Safe Haven on a pilot basis on behalf of the Health and Care Partnership (HCP). The funding for the service was made available from NHS England as part of the national suicide prevention transformation programme and is provided by Coventry and Warwickshire Mind.
To replicate the offer for Coventry residents, Coventry and Warwickshire Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) commissioned a similar service in Coventry following a successful bid for funding for community mental health crisis provision, which is provided by Mental Health Matters. 

The Safe Havens offer out-of-hours mental health support to anyone aged 18+ in the Coventry area and aged 16+ in the Warwickshire area. The service is open every night 6pm-11pm and offers walk-in and virtual support with no need for a referral or appointment. 

Clients are supported in a safe, comfortable, non-judgmental, and non-clinical environment. Clients can come just for a chat, or to access one-to-one emotional support from trained mental health professionals. Clients are offered help in creating staying well and crisis plans, and support to access other services and organisations that may be useful to them. Those using the Safe Havens are also supported by a 24/7 helpline, which offers access to emotional support and information even when the Safe Haven is closed.

In addition, a system-wide stakeholder event was held in July 2018 where ideas were explored and during which the delivery plan for the spend of the NHSE suicide prevention transformation funding was shaped. Following this, HCP partner organisations and individuals with lived experience contributed to the design of the Safe Haven service model as part of the community crisis pathway. 

Since then, the two providers of the Safe Haven services, Coventry and Warwickshire Mind and Mental Health Matters, work closely with Coventry and Warwickshire Partnership NHS Trust (CWPT) to strengthen acute and crisis pathways to support and treatment.

What’s next?

The Safe Havens are now integral as a community-based alternative to admission and crisis and they continue to provide vital support for people struggling with their mental health by:

  • Offering a non-clinical alternative to accessing mental health support at a time of day when other general support services are closed (18:00 – 23:00). 
  • Providing a safe, supportive environment for crisis de-escalation, 1-2-1 support employing active listening skills, peer support sessions, low level activities such as cards, listening to music, reading (delivered in-line with the principle of non-dependency), and information and signposting. 
  • Reducing the impact of loneliness and social isolation for individuals presenting with feelings of mental health distress. 
  • Providing an earlier intervention for those at risk of crisis, and prevent the need for admission into an inpatient setting. 
  • Supporting individuals towards greater independence and strategies to manage their mental wellbeing. 
  • Working in partnership with A&E staff, the Crisis Team and other agencies to provide a robust pathway for individuals with mental health distress. 

Greater awareness of the services will be raised by GP signposting, promotion on social media channels and community engagement.

For more information for the Coventry Safe Haven service, please visit or contact directly via

For more information on the Warwickshire Safe Haven service, please visit or contact directly via