Healthwatch Surrey highlights life-saving work of mental health service described as “a lighthouse in a storm”

31st March 2017

As the Safe Haven in Camberley closes its doors for the final time today (31 March), an independent health watchdog is calling for local NHS and social care leaders to provide clarity about the future funding of Safe Havens in light of positive feedback from users.

Described by users as “a lighthouse in a storm”, Surrey’s seven Safe Havens, also known as Crisis Cafés, provide vital out of hours help and support to people who are experiencing a mental health crisis or emotional distress and their carers.

After hearing concerns from local people about the future of the Safe Haven service, Healthwatch Surrey conducted 25 in-depth interviews with users of all seven Safe Havens and their families and carers to listen to their views and experiences of local mental health services.

Matthew Parris from Healthwatch Surrey said: “We were overwhelmed by how positively people spoke about the Safe Haven service. They told us that they simply wouldn’t be here today without them. That’s a strong message for us to hear”.

“The long-term future of some of these life-saving Cafes remains unclear and is causing unnecessary anxiety amongst people using the service; people who are already battling with mental ill-health.”

“We are calling on local commissioners to urgently clarify the status of the Cafes in Epsom and Redhill, (as their on-going funding has not been confirmed) and to make long term plans for what users and their carers tell us is a valuable service”.

Healthwatch Surrey’s new report: ‘Keeping the light on’ also found that:

  • Most of the users who had used inpatient mental health services reported they had been discharged without a care plan
  • Nearly everyone who had visited a local hospital in a mental health crisis reported having mixed or negative feelings about their experience of A&E in those circumstances
  • Nearly all 25 people we spoke to used Safe Haven every day or each week.

The report can be viewed on Healthwatch Surrey’s website

The report will be shared with the lead commissioners who are responsible for commissioning Safe Havens throughout Surrey and North East Hampshire (at Guildford and Waverley CCG and Surrey County Council) and Healthwatch Surrey will be seeking a response to the findings.

Safe Havens for adults in Surrey and North East Hampshire are run by charities and voluntary organisations in partnership with Surrey and Borders Partnership NHS Foundation Trust. The young people’s Safe Haven in Aldershot is provided by North East Hampshire and Farnham Clinical Commisioning Group in partnerhsip with Just Wellbeing.

Anyone who would like to share their experience of an NHS or social care service can contact Healthwatch Surrey on 0303 303 0023 or email


For more information or to arrange an interview, contact Lauren ter Kuile: 01483 533043 or 07545 433465 or email