Charity grant boosts mental health support in north west London

17 January 2022

Charity grant boosts mental health support in north west London
An award-winning initiative to help people experiencing a mental health crisis has been able to reach even more people thanks to a grant from Imperial Health Charity.

The Listening Place, which has premises at Kings Cross and Pimlico, offers free, face-to-face support to those who are struggling with suicidal thoughts, plans and actions.

A grant from the charity’s Compassionate Communities programme has enabled the organisation to recruit a Visitor Support Coordinator to oversee the team and help make sure that everyone referred to them is contacted as quickly as possible.

The Listening Place has a team of over 500 carefully trained volunteers who provide fortnightly sessions for visitors from all walks of life, many of whom are referred from the NHS, charities, police, and Social Services. Open seven days a week, 364 days a year, the service works hard to make sure that everyone is reached out to within 24 hours and offered an appointment within a week.

“It is no exaggeration to say that The Listening Place saved my life. They gave me a safe place to vent and explore my feelings."

A Listening Place visitor

Daniel Hall, Head of Fundraising at The Listening Place, said: “I don't think we would be the same sort of service if we couldn't respond to people in really timely and responsive manner.

“We try to be as compassionate and friendly as possible and our Visitor Support Coordinators will check in if you don't attend an appointment, offer additional phone calls if they're worried about you, and coordinate with volunteers to ensure that we're providing the best standard of support possible.”

In 2021 the organisation supported 3,731 individuals, an increase of 45% on the previous year, and were even recognised as Charity Times’ Charity of the Year.

Daniel said: “There’s been a big increase in demand. At start of the pandemic we were getting 250 referrals a month, now it’s 500. This is partly due to our own expansion, but we’re also seeing a lot more referrals from universities, as well as people who are struggling with things like domestic abuse, or modern slavery and human trafficking.”

The organisation’s work and impact is overseen by consultant clinical psychologist Dr Sarah Davidson MBE from the Tavistock and Portman NHS Foundation Trust and Professor Stephen Platt from the University of Edinburgh. Their findings show that most visitors have highly significant decreases in the levels of distress and suicidal feelings they experience, and similar reductions in intention to act on suicidal thoughts.

One recent visitor said: "It is no exaggeration to say that The Listening Place saved my life. They gave me a safe place to vent and explore my feelings; I am so very thankful for the compassion I have been shown".

As interest in The Listening Place’s services has increased, the team have set their sights on expanding to a third site in Hammersmith, which they expect to open in April.

You can find out more about their work here.