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The Lighthouse - Sanctuary and support in times of crisis

Posted Monday, 24 July 2017, 12.40pm

Carlisle Eden Mind, in partnership with the Glenmore Trust, has launched an innovative new service aimed at supporting people who are experiencing a mental health crisis or are finding it hard to cope with their life situation.

The Lighthouse, in central Carlisle, is a ground-breaking project in the North West and offers a safe, calm and homely environment for people who need to talk about what’s going on for them, to find ways of coping and keeping themselves safe, or to find out more about what other services locally that might support them. The Lighthouse is open out of hours when many other services are closed and people can call and book an appointment to visit on the same day. The service is the first of it’s kind in the area and is open 6pm to 11.30pm seven nights a week, 365 days a year.

Chris Graham, Lighthouse Manager, said “Crisis can be related to a person’s mental health problems being particularly severe, or to a ‘life crisis’ such as losing your home or job, a relationship breakdown and so on. It might be the result of a slow build-up of factors or from chronic social isolation, having no one to turn to. Whatever circumstance has led someone to The Lighthouse, people usually come through our door at a point where they feel overwhelmed and unable to cope with their situation.”

Visitors to The Lighthouse have the option of talking to one of the crisis support workers - a time to be listened to or to explore together ways to feel safe and strategies to help the individual cope with their crisis. Some people simply use The Lighthouse as a calm and safe place to have some time out; a sanctuary while the difficult feelings pass. Others find support through talking to people in a similar situation as them, or to one of the peer support volunteers at the centre.

People are welcome to visit The Lighthouse as often as feels useful to them during their crisis. Many people visit The Lighthouse once, or a small number of times until their crisis has passed. Others use the service for a longer period of time, for out-of-hours support with serious mental health problems or because their lives are very difficult. The Lighthouse welcomes both of these, and anything in between.

Tara Quinn, Services Manager at Carlisle Eden Mind said “The Lighthouse is an exciting new resource for people in Carlisle and an important alternative, or complement, to existing NHS services. We know many people in crisis struggle to get speedy access to support and these delays can often lead to a deterioration in their situation. We also offer a non-clinical approach, calm and homely environment. Visitors to The Lighthouse have consistently commented on the value of having time and space to talk in a safe environment, without pressure or judgement, and that they are trusted as experts in their own situation and that, given time and space, they can navigate through their crisis.

The Lighthouse is part of a broader piece of work involving the NHS, Cumbria Police and social care providers called the Multi Agency Assessment Service (MACAS). Dr Stuart Beatson, the Associate Director of Mental Health at Cumbria Partnership NHS Foundation Trust explained “For some time now there has been a partnership between health and care agencies, the Lighthouse and Cumbria Constabulary to develop a pilot programme which aims to help those in mental health crisis get the help they need more quickly and effectively. The Lighthouse is a vital part of making sure that someone in mental health crisis has access to the right treatment at the right time in the right place. By all agencies working together like this we hope to reduce the numbers of people in mental health crisis going to hospital or to a police cell inappropriately. The ultimate aspirations of the project is to reduce the numbers of people who even reach crisis point.“

Visits to the Lighthouse are via appointment only and they can be arranged by calling 0300 561 0000 between midday and 11.30pm. Where possible callers will be offered a visit on the same day, or may be offered telephone support where this is not possible. The service is confidential and people can be accompanied by a friend or relative on their visit. 

Click here for more information on The Lighthouse.

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