Banbury Safe Haven will offer additional out-of-hours support for adults living with mental illness in north Oxfordshire.

People must call ahead to hold a place at the drop-in in Britannia Road, Banbury, for immediate mental health support in a non-medical environment.

The service has been launched by award-winning Oxfordshire Mental Health Partnership (OHMP) which also runs the popular Oxford Safe Haven in Cowley, Oxford.

​OMHP was recently awarded the NHS Parliamentary Award for Mental Health and shortlisted for an Oscar of the health world at the HSJ Partnership Awards in the category of Best Not-For-Profit working in partnership with the NHS. A recent evaluation by the Centre for Mental Health, commissioned by the partnership and commissioners, commended the partnership for the ground-breaking innovative way it provides treatment and care for people with mental health challenges in the county.

Holly visited Safe Haven when she was in need of support. She said: “Safe Haven is a place where I’m free to show my mental health symptoms and be accepted for all of me, not just part of me. Safe Haven keeps me safe from harm. A place of acceptance, warmth, kindness and care. It keeps me safe from me. Safe Haven is what I’ve always searched for since my mental health problems surfaced 15 years ago. This place fills the gap between Samaritans and A&E and often prevents me from reaching crisis.”

Lesley Dewhurst, chair person of Oxfordshire Mental Health Partnership, said: “I am so pleased to see this new service getting off the ground. We’ve known for some time how needed it is in Banbury, and have seen how well the Oxford Safe Haven has been received. The Oxfordshire Mental Health Partnership really tries to plug gaps in services – and this is one that desperately needs filling. I commend all involved in delivering a splendid result”.

Dan Knowles, chief executive of Mind said: “We are delighted to be opening the Banbury Safe Haven. We know that the evenings and weekends can be really difficult for people with mental health problems when they are experiencing a crisis, and the Banbury Safe Haven is able to provide a non-clinical supportive environment and offers short-term out of hours additional support. The service is an alternative to A+E, with a welcoming environment, crisis planning support, a space to be with others, a quiet room and friendly staff who are always on hand.”

Rob Bale, clinical director for Oxfordshire at Oxford Health NHS Foundation Trust, said: “We know evenings and weekends can be a difficult time for some people living with mental health problems. Though there are a number of services that offer access to NHS care outside 9-5, people tell us they feel best supported in a more informal and less clinical environment. We’re really excited to be able to open Safe Haven in Banbury to support people in north Oxfordshire and expand the service to offer more people this invaluable service which we know really helps people stay safe when they are experiencing mental health crisis.”

Banbury Safe Haven will be open Fridays, Saturdays, Sundays and Mondays from 6pm to 10pm.

It is not a drop-in service and so people who want to visit must self-refer on the night by calling in advance.

Friends and family members can also call on their behalf or they can be referred by health professionals and emergency services.

Space may not be available if people arrive without calling ahead.

The referral line will be open from 5pm on the day of service. The last entry will be at 9pm.

To self-refer to Banbury Safe Haven ring 01295 270004 or 07851246546.