Suffolk Mind Night Owls support line to close at the end of March 2024 confirm Suffolk County Council and SNEE
A Suffolk mum believes the closure of a charity’s evening support line will lead to those with mental illness feeling frightened and isolated.
Suffolk Mind confirmed it will be cutting its Night Owls service due to a funding decision made by Suffolk County Council and the NHS Suffolk and North East Essex Integrated Care Board (SNEE).
Now Danielle Valentino, 38, of Felixstowe, who has Bipolar Disorder and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) wants to raise awareness of the closure, calling the decision ‘absolutely shocking’.
Suffolk Night Owls, which has been running for nine years, will close at the end of March.
Danielle, who is keen to praise the charity for how they have supported her, explained that whilst waiting for counselling from Suffolk Mind she was automatically signed up for Night Owls, which offers out of hours support.
She said: “If you are in crisis or if you need to talk to someone you can speak to someone for 20 minutes and they can call you back if they have any concerns.”
Having the local service available has always been reassuring for Danielle as if she was experiencing a mental health crisis she would struggle to get to accident and emergency.
She said: “It is absolutely shocking this service has shut down, whilst I haven’t used it myself I always thought it was a really amazing service to have and a lot of people will find it difficult without it.
“I just wanted to get some awareness out, I am not sure if Suffolk Mind have tried to fight it, or if there is something that can be done.
“It is a real shame, it makes people with mental illness feel a lot more frightened and isolated.”
Jon Neal, CEO of Suffolk Mind, said: "Suffolk Mind is committed to supporting, improving and raising awareness of mental health throughout the county.
“As a charity, the essential services we provide rely on fundraising, grants and contracts with the NHS and local government.
“Suffolk Night Owls, our evening support line, has been funded through a contract with both the local NHS and Suffolk County Council. This contract ends in March and the funding is no longer there to continue the service.
“Over the next few weeks, our hardworking team will try our best to ensure service users find the support they need.
"Suffolk Mind is committed to supporting, improving and raising awareness of mental health throughout the county.”
In a joint statement SNEE and Suffolk County Council said: “When it was launched, Suffolk Night Owls was unique. There were few available services that offered people support who were living with emotional wellbeing and mental health need outside working hours (9am to 5pm, Monday to Friday).
“Over the years, the local health and care system has developed more support, including the introduction of STEAM cafes in Ipswich and Bury St Edmunds, NHS111 mental health option, and Greenlight Trust High Intensity Users Service.
“Notwithstanding the excellent service and highly skilled workforce within the Suffolk Night Owls service, with this additional provision that was not previously available, NHS Suffolk and North East Essex ICB and Suffolk County Council have decided to stop the service.
“Both organisations remain fully committed to supporting the ongoing transformation of services for people with Personality Disorders and Complex Needs as part of the broader strategy.”