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Building better support for people in crisis

Nearly £400,000 will be used to improve support for people who have a mental health crisis in Norfolk.

The money will pay for renovating and expanding 'places of safety' in Norwich, King's Lynn and Great Yarmouth. These are suites on NHS premises where people can be taken by police officers and looked after by mental health professionals.

It means people in crisis can be cared for and their needs assessed in a much more appropriate setting and given the emergency support and care they need. It also frees police officers who can return to their duties in the community.

The money – £394,700 – is one-off "capital" funding and was granted by a panel from the Department of Health, Home Office and NHS England. The money was awarded following a joint bid made by partners in the NHS, charitable and social housing in Norfolk.

Three 'section 136' suites run by Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust (NSFT) will be upgraded.

  • One at Hellesdon in Norwich will be rebuilt and extended at a cost of about £220,000.
  • The suites at The Fermoy Unit in King's Lynn and Northgate Hospital in Great Yarmouth will be refurbished with a new look and updated furniture at a cost of about £12,000 each.


Clive Rennie, from the Norfolk integrated mental health commissioning team, said: "Modernising section 136 suites will provide improved facilities for both patients and staff, this will assist greatly in patient care in crisis situations. My thanks to all the partners who were involved in this successful bid." 

Debbie White, Director of Operations in Norfolk for NSFT said: "This funding will allow us to improve our existing crisis care facilities at Northgate and the Fermoy Unit and create safe, calming and engaging environments for people when they are their most vulnerable.

"The project will see the suite at Hellesdon expanded to cater for more patients, in turn reducing the need for them to be transferred elsewhere. A 'place of calm' will also be created, where people can receive practical and emotional support in comfortable surroundings.

"This project will play a major role in helping to improve the experience which patients have when using these suites while also providing greater privacy and dignity and reducing the stigma associated with a detention under the Mental Health Act. Improved facilities will also make it easier for our staff to monitor this vulnerable group and take appropriate action to de-escalate often damaging episodes of crisis before they require detention, hospitalisation or specialist referral."

In addition to refurbishing the Section 136 suites, the grant includes £150,000 earmarked to possibly create a community "hub" in Norwich.

Clive Rennie said: "This idea is still very much in its infancy but has worked in other areas of the country and is a longer term ambition. It is seen as somewhere that people with a mental health could be taken as a further place of safety late into the evening but we now need to look in detail at how it could be taken forward in a way that is sustainable."

The Norfolk bid for funding was one of 72 submitted, all vying for a slice of £9 million on offer. The panel aimed to fund projects in as many areas as it could, but the limited funding available meant that only the highest quality bids, spread fairly across the country, could be approved.