Reading will soon get a Crisis café, a safe and welcoming place where people can go in the evenings if they are feeling emotionally distressed or need mental health help.

Berkshire West health officials are pushing forward with the plans and now looking for the right location for the crisis café – which will be called Breathing Space and will be based somewhere in Reading.

Crisis cafes in Wokingham and West Berkshire could follow at a later time.

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Councillor Graeme Hoskin, lead member for Health and Wellbeing at RBC, said: “I am really excited to hear about the crisis café.

“That is something people have been talking about for a long time and something we really want here in Reading.”

Andy Fitton, assistant director of joint commissioning at NHS Berkshire West CCG announced the news at last week’s Reading Health and Wellbeing Board.

He said: “It is going to be based somewhere in Reading, partly because of the excellent transport routes in and out of Reading for people across Wokingham and even into West Berkshire.

“I think we are going to need to talk about the West Berkshire communities further out than Newbury because they are less able to get into Reading.

“It may be more appropriate for those people to access crisis support over the boundary in Swindon and people from South Oxfordshire to access support in Reading.”

To get help in a mental health crisis, you can either call 111 and they will direct you to the local crisis line or you can call the crisis line directly at 0300 365 0300.

Examples of crisis cafes – also known as ‘safe havens’, ‘sanctuaries’ and ‘crisis pads’ in other areas – include:

  • Five safe havens in Surrey and North Hampshire
  • Three crisis cafes in Leeds
  • The Evening Sanctuary in Lambeth, London

Feedback from people who have used such services includes:

  • “I’ve never felt so supported, listened to and appropriately cared for.”
  • “Between 5-7pm my anxiety increases, I worry that I will hear my voices, so I come to the [venue] to distract me during these times.”

What support is currently available in Reading, Wokingham and West Berkshire?

Outside of normal working hours, people in Reading experiencing a mental health crisis or in emotional distress, currently have the following options for getting help:

  • Calling the NHS 111 helpline, who can put you touch with health professionals
  • Calling the local crisis team, run by Berkshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust at 0300 365 0300
  • Visiting A&E if they feel their problem is life-threatening
  • Calling a mental health charity helpline such as The Samaritans.

Daytime support in Reading includes:

  • Your GP
  • The NHS community mental health team (via referral from GP or social worker)
  • NHS Talking Therapies, which you can self-refer to
  • The Berkshire West Your Way charity, which offers drop-ins, groups, one-to-one support, advice on finances, work, housing and education, and peer support
  • Compass Recovery College, offering short courses on coping with mental health needs, life skills or arts activities
  • Sport in Mind, offering physical activity for people with mental health needs