Police fund café to support mental health charity

Lee Colyer

A CAFÉ for adults with mental health problems has been opened in Tunbridge Wells in a bid to help ease the pressure on police. It’s estimated that 30 per cent of police time is taken up dealing with people facing mental health issues.

Tunbridge Wells Mental Health Resource (MHR) has seen a significant demand for the free twice-weekly sessions which provide a safe space for adults to socialise.  Serenity Café has been operating for three weeks at the charity’s base at 2a Grosvenor Park.

The idea is to give sufferers of mental illnesses the chance to talk openly about their problem.

Len Horwood, chairman of MHR, explained the café is open on Fridays at 6pm and Sundays at 3pm because these are ‘difficult times’ for people with mental health problems.

“It is a place for people with problems to go where they can have one-to-one conversations with members of staff,” he said.

“We try to alleviate their problems in a way that prevents them going into the NHS system.”

Mr Horwood added that he would eventually like to see the café open on Saturdays too.

Serenity Café offers users a bite to eat, a cup of tea, a choice of games and, most importantly, the chance to socialise. It costs £470 a week to run.

MHR works around the west Kent region and also offers an advocacy service and drop in centre.

Romy Rook, community fundraising and engagement lead for MHR, said people “have been coming back time and again”.

She added: “It is a new project. Crisis cafes are opening around the country and have been successful.

“Thirty per cent of police time is taken up by people with mental health issues. There is nowhere other than a police cell where they can take them.”

She continued: “We are always looking for volunteers. The police are funding it for six months so we are already looking for continuation funding.”

The café’s launch ties in with World Mental Health Day which was celebrated on Tuesday (October 10).

For more information, visit www.twmhr.org.uk or call (01892) 615552.

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