Cowley Keystone Mental Health & Wellbeing Hub opens

Comedian and television presenter Matt Richardson celebrated the ease with which people can now reach out for help in Cowley thanks to the new hub.

Cowley Keystone Mental Health & Wellbeing Hub opens

The Keystone Mental Health & Wellbeing Hub Oxford officially opened its doors this Mental Health Awareness Week thanks to television presenter and comedian Matt Richardson, who has presented hit shows such as the Xtra Factor, Celebrity Haunted Hotel Live, Celebrity Haunted Mansion and competed in the thirteenth series of Dancing on Ice.

The hub is also home to the OCA Café, run by local charity Oxford Community Action, a welcoming friendly place for people to have a coffee and meet friends. The café is a not-for-profit venture and funds will be ploughed into local community activities and events including football and cycling clubs, children’s activities, hiking and camping.

Matt shared his own experiencing of living with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) having a family member with a severe mental illness and reflected on how taking that first step to seeking help can be one of the biggest hurdles to overcome.

Urging others to reach out for help if they need Matt Richardson said:

“Mental health is so close to my heart because everyone’s family has had mental health issues. I myself have got OCD and so I have accessed services like this. I had a grandparent who was schizophrenic and when I was a child was sectioned quite often so anything that can be an intervention before that stage, like Keystone, is incredibly important.”

Adults experiencing mental health challenges are able to draw on support from the Keystone Mental Health & Wellbeing Hub Oxford thanks to NHS mental health professionals, Peers Support workers who have their own experience of mental health challenges, services which help people to remain in work or find employment and third-sector mental health services, in order to thrive among friends, family and their community. The hub is also linked to their local GP surgeries.

It is one of three recently launched in Oxfordshire after people said they would like to see more specialist care available at local level via their GP surgery, and improved communication between GPs and mental health services. Hubs are already open in Castle Quay Shopping Centre, Banbury, and Bury Street, Abingdon, and plans are underway for hubs in Kidlington and Wantage in the near future.

Verity Penfold, Team Manager for the Oxford City and North East mental health teams, said:

“We’re so excited to be able to welcome people from the community to call in and talk to us about their wellbeing. We all experience ups and downs with our health and wellbeing. The hub makes it convenient for people who pop in and talk to us if they want to.”

Co-director of Oxford community Action, Mujahid Hamidi said:

“All the money we raise from the OCA Café will fund community activities which we have on offer such as hiking, camping, children’s holiday activities, our football club and cycling club. At the same time people can accumulate reward points with each purchase which can go towards free coffee or meals when we go on picnics or host activities. We’re thinking of ways to help people become more active and start to address the health inequalities that black and marginalised communities experience in the city.”

The Lord Mayor of Oxford, Cllr Lubna Arshad said:

“The Primary Care Mental Health Teams will play a crucial role in supporting the various life domains that are affected by mental health challenges. Whether its relationships, leisure activities, accommodation, finances or education support will be readily available to those in need. What truly sets this hub apart is their community-centric approach. By being in the heart of our neighbourhoods they ensure accessibility and convenience for individuals facing ongoing mental health challenges especially with Oxford Community Action, one of my Lord Mayors chosen charities to take care of the needs of the residents with grace, who I know will deliver exceptional empath and compassion with delicious food. Together we are fostering a culture of understanding, compassion and support for mental health. Together, let us continue to build a healthier, brighter future for Oxford.”

Dr David Chapman, Clinical Mental Health Lead for the Buckinghamshire, Oxfordshire and Berkshire West Integrated Care Board (which is responsible for commissioning and funding of local health and care services) said:

“Our priority is to help people with serious and complex mental health illness lead better lives with the support they need. Keystone hubs will help these patients by providing them with access to a team of dedicated mental health professionals in their communities across Oxfordshire. This new NHS service will also enable GPs to work very closely with health staff in the hubs to ensure their patients receive care and treatment closer to their homes making it easier to get the support they require.”

The Keystone Mental Health & Wellbeing Hub Oxford is open Monday to Friday 9.00am to 5.00pm. Members of the public can call in for a coffee and chat anytime.

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Published: 14 May 2024