"When people are in crisis, they need support right here, right now and in a way which meets their needs"
Gemma Durham, Open Door safe haven, Stockport
A new kind of mental health crisis centre for Stockport has opened its doors.
Open Door can provide a safe haven and immediate help to people who are struggling with their mental health.
The centre, on Princes Street in Stockport town centre, is offering face-to-face support, with no appointment necessary. It is operated by the national adult health & social care charity Making Space.
Though staff are highly trained in mental health crisis management and emotional support, the atmosphere is deliberately non-clinical and designed to be as homely as possible.
According to Open Door recovery worker and student social worker Gemma Durham, the impact of Covid-19 on people's wellbeing means that this kind of drop-in service is more vital than ever.
She said: "Open Door was due to launch in April at the height of lockdown, but instead, we provided a telephone helpline and virtual support. Six months later, here we are, at last able to welcome people into our new high street home.
Gemma says that the pandemic has taken a great toll on people's mental health, with some experiencing issues for the first time, whilst others who have long standing conditions, have often found their mood worsening.
"It is not surprising that after months of increased isolation and financial and health worries that some people are feeling very out of sorts," she said.
"For some, just getting out from beyond their four walls and having a chat and a cuppa can be a real turning point. For others, who need ongoing support, we can make sure that it is put in place for them.
"When people are in crisis, they need support right here, right now and in a way which meets their needs. There is still a stigma around seeking help, particularly amongst men.
"Open Door is an inclusive, non-judgemental space."
Gemma said that when someone walks out of Open Door, they can expect to feel they have been listened to, that there is a way forward and that there is a plan in place to support their recovery.
The service employs a manager, two team leaders and five recovery workers. It is also recruiting a team of volunteer peer support workers, who have lived experience of mental health issues and using services in Stockport.
Michelle Sherriff, who has over 20 years' experience of mental health services, is now a recovery worker at Open Door.
She said: "Our policy is that there is no wrong door.
"By offering an environment where we can explore what you need, what you want and how to get there, Open Door is able to ensure the right support is available at the right time."
Open Door can also offer support to family and friends of people who may be experiencing mental health issues and need help navigating services. It is a free service and is open to any resident of Stockport aged 18+.
Open Door was commissioned by Stockport CCG after extensive review and research of the current population needs. The CCG's Mental Health Investment Plan identified access and crisis as key themes and approved additional investment to develop the new mental health crisis pathway.
Open Door is at 72-72 Princes Street SK1 1RJ, next to CEX. Opening hours are 10am-8pm Monday-Friday and 12-8pm Saturday and Sunday. The Open Door helpline can be contacted 24/7 on 0800 138 7276. You can also contact Open Door at firstname.lastname@example.org