Stevenage Borough Council: Nightlife Crisis Café
The council identified a need for early intervention following in increase in suicide attempts and fatalities at Stevenage train station during 2021. The high number meant that police were often having to respond to concerns about the welfare of individuals at the station. It was felt amongst local stakeholders, including Hertfordshire County Council, the mental health charity Mind, and the train operating companies, that something needed to be done to tackle the problem.
The Nightlight Crisis Café was set up in June 2022 to offer people who are feeling distressed a person to talk to in a relaxed, non-clinical setting, which aims to help those in need of immediate support. Staff offer a non-judgemental listening ear for emotional and practical support and to signpost or refer to other local sources of therapy or advice. The café is available to anyone in need of support between 7:00 p.m. and 1:00 a.m.
The Stevenage Nightlight Café is part of a wider network, with Hertfordshire Mind having now built a Nightlight Crisis Centre for overnight stays. This then forms part of a three-component system, consisting of: the Nightlight Crisis Helpline, Nightlight Crisis Café, and Nightlight Crisis Centre.
A protocol has been designed to help direct people who are in distress to the café, which has been ideally placed on the walkway just before you reach the station, to have a moment to take a step back and speak to a professional who is there to help them.
The council have partnered with a wide array of health, voluntary and community sector (VCS), police, and transport organisations: Hertfordshire Mind Network, Hertfordshire County Council, Samaritans, National Health Service, Network Rail, British Transport Police, Integrated Health and Care Commissioning team – East and North Hertfordshire clinical commissioning group (CCG), Hertfordshire Police, Hertfordshire Partnership Foundation Trust, Stevenage Integrated Care Development Board Locality and Stevenage South Primary Care Network.
The café has benefited residents in distress, and the work of partner organisations in Stevenage. Since its opening in July 2022, the café has supported 526 individuals (up to the end of October 2022). 93% of these individuals self-referred, and 91% were aged between 18-44 years old. Between July and August, the café helped 13 people reduce self-harming, 73 people reduce social isolation, 29 reduce suicidal ideation and 121 people improve their coping strategies. It also helped avert two statutory interventions by the police.