An update from the Safer Somerset Partnership

The latest edition of the Somerset Domestic Abuse Newsletter, which contains updates on local and national domestic abuse related matters, is now available to download here..

Mental Health Helpline now available 24/7 to support Somerset communities

The Somerset Mental Health Alliance, working in partnership with Somerset NHS Foundation Trust, Somerset NHS CAMHS and Young Somerset, has launched the first 24-hour mental health telephone support line in Somerset to help people who are experiencing mental distress.

Expanding on the existing successful Somerset Mindline service, the round-the-clock helpline will make it quicker and easier for people in Somerset to get the right advice they need for their mental health. Open 24 hours a day, seven-days a week, it is open to people of all ages who need urgent mental health support.

Partner mental health and emotional well-being organisations in the Somerset Mental Health Alliance have also stepped up additional services that Mindline can direct people to, depending on their needs and circumstances. This will help people in the county to access additional support more easily if they are struggling with their mental health.

Jane Yeandle, Service Director for Mental Health and Learning Disabilities at Somerset NHS Foundation Trust said:

“I am delighted that we now have a dedicated local 24-hour helpline for people with concerns about their mental health. The service will make a really positive difference to local people by helping those that need specialist support in a timely, person-centred way. Launching a new service in such a short space of time, under the current circumstances, is testament to the teams and I would like to say a big thank you to all involved.”

Katherine Nolan, Chair of the Mental Health Alliance/CEO of Spark Somerset said:

“This is a really significant step forward in helping people who are going through a mental health crisis and is the first 24/7 telephone service for Somerset. There are many times when people need help but previously they have only been able to access support like this during office hours. Even knowing such a service exists will be extremely reassuring for local residents, as whenever they need support – day or night – they won’t have to suffer in silence.”

Andrew Keefe, Deputy Director of Commissioning, Mental Health and Learning Disabilities, at Somerset Clinical Commissioning Group, welcomed the news:

“It’s important that we look after our mental health as well as our physical health. It is okay to feel worried, anxious or frustrated during these times, but I would like to remind everyone that support is available for when you need it. This expansion to the existing Mindline will be better able to ensure the right help can be provided by the right people at the right time. We all need help sometimes and this initiative will enable even more people in Somerset to receive the support they need.”

What to do if you need urgent mental health help:

  • If you are concerned about how you are feeling, please contact Somerset Mindline – 01823 276 892
  • The helpline is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week and is open to people of all ages
  • The helpline is the first port of call for mental health help – it is operated by people in your local area who will know how best to support you.
  • You should still call 999 or go to A&E if you have an immediate, life-threatening emergency requiring mental or physical health assistance

VCSE Climate Change Forum

We recently hosted a special forum which focused on climate change and its effects on community health and wellbeing.

Delegates attending the event at Magdalen Farm, near Chard, heard fascinating presentations from Jake Burnyeat (Burnham and Weston CIC), Jon Doyle (Somerset County Council), Pip Tucker (Somerset Public Health), Mickey Green (Somerset Waste Partnership) and Steve Mewes (Somerset Wildlife Trust). You can download the presentations here.

Attendees also took part in group discussions on how climate change is effecting the communities they support, and how, as organisations, we can help to mitigate the impacts. You can download the notes from the discussion groups here.

The event was kindly sponsored by Burnham and Weston Energy CIC. There was overwhelming support for making it an annual occurrence.

Join the Somerset CCG Citizens’ Panel

Somerset Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) are developing a Citizens’ Panel to ensure that they can listen to, and learn from, local residents. By sharing your feedback and opinions on health and care services, you can help them to design services that take into account ‘what matters to people’, on a range of topics related to health and care services.

What is involved if I join the Citizens’ Panel?

Citizens’ Panel members will be contacted throughout the year to provide their input and views on health and care services in Somerset. You’ll be invited to take part in a range of surveys which you can fill in online or through the post, and you can also opt to attend focus groups, working groups or committees in person to talk about health and care in more detail.

What’s in it for me?

You’ll be helping to ensure the Somerset CGG provide better quality care in a way that matters the most to local residents.
  • You’ll have the opportunity to have your views heard by local health and care decision makers.
  • You’ll find out about new plans and ideas for Somerset.

You can register here. If you have any questions please email or call 01935 384022.

An Update from the Somerset Safeguarding Children Partnership

The Somerset Safeguarding Children Partnership has published its latest newsletter.

This edition includes:

  • Important changes to the Early Help Assessment (EHA) registration process.
  • Updates to EHA, processes and supporting documents
  • Brand new free EHA e-learning training
  • Plus Somerset’s Early Help animation, a three-minute video explaining early help in action.

You can read the newsletter here.

Domestic Violence Prevention Programme Study: Participants Wanted

Researchers in the REPROVIDE programme at the University of Bristol’s Centre for Academic Primary Care are looking for men aged over 21 years who are concerned that they are, or have been, abusive in their relationships with women, to take part in a new study that will help improve how we support men in changing their behaviour.

Because this is a test of whether domestic violence prevention programmes work, men joining the study will be randomly allocated to two groups.

Participants will be asked to take questionnaires as regular intervals over a 12-month period. One group will join programme run by Barnardo’s, which will involve attending weekly evening sessions in either Taunton or Shepton Mallet for a period of six months. The remaining men will not be offered no support from REPROVIDE (they may continue to seek support from other providers), but will still be asked to complete questionnaires.

Both groups will be equally valuable in helping to assess whether domestic violence prevention programmes help men and improve safety for their partners, ex partners and children.

For more information, email, call 01823 270938 or download the information leaflet here.


Innovative New Approach to Mental Health Services in Somerset

Somerset to be a trailblazer for mental health care as new alliance prepares to deliver innovative new approach.

A new alliance of charities has been formed to develop a bold new community-based mental health support service for Somerset residents.

The shared ambition for the Somerset Mental Health Alliance is to ensure that people living with mental health problems get the right support at the right time. As well as reducing waiting times for clinical services, it aims to ensure that people can live a full life in their community, accessing housing, jobs or volunteering opportunities, community activities and physical exercise, to help support and improve their wellbeing and quality of life.

Plans in development also include measures to improve the experience of people going through a mental health crisis, including community alternatives, such as crisis cafes.

The Alliance will work to create a ‘no wrong door’ approach, meaning that a person’s mental health support needs can be responded to regardless of where they come into contact with services, so that the system is easier to navigate and more efficient.

The formation of the alliance, a partnership of ten organisations, is amongst the first in England and represents an innovative and significant change to mental health care in Somerset.

A formal launch and further chances for other community partners to get involved will follow shortly.

Katherine Nolan, Chief Executive, Spark Somerset, said:

“This is an exciting new approach – where NHS services and local voluntary organisations will be working in partnership to ensure that residents of Somerset get the support they need, when they need it.

“We recognise that a one-size-fits-all approach doesn’t work when supporting mental health. People need a range of support to help them on their path to recovery. This can range from specialist treatment around their condition to advice around finances, housing and employment, as well as support to build confidence and connect to activities in their community.

“There are already hundreds of community groups and local charities across Somerset that are providing much-needed mental health support every day. We’re committed to ensuring that grass roots organisations are fully supported so that they can continue to be part of the solution.”

Will Higham, Associate Director of Programme Innovation at Rethink Mental Illness said:

“The creation of this Alliance is recognition that effective mental health care should be linked to support in the community. It’s not just about what your GP can do; a lack of good housing, steady work, and stable finances can all have serious effects on your mental health, so it’s only right that we start to consider all of a person’s needs when they need treatment.

“This approach is the start of something genuinely innovative and it had the input of people with experience of mental health problems. We are proud to be doing this in Somerset, where Rethink Mental Illness has such a long history.

“This is a fantastic opportunity to develop mental health care in Somerset, and our aim is for the county to become a role model for what good care and support looks like. Each partner organisation is ready to share their expertise and we will engage new partners and I look forward to seeing what the Alliance can achieve in the coming years.”

Andrew Keefe, Deputy Director of Mental Health and Learning Disability Commissioning, Somerset Clinical Commissioning Group, said: “We are determined to address the previously unmet needs of people requiring support for their mental health and this supports the NHS Long Term Plan. We’re committed to realising the vision that people with mental health needs receive the same levels of support as those who have physical health needs, while also addressing the stigma that is sadly still all too often associated with mental health.”

The contract reinforces the importance of working in an integrated way in our local communities to provide a joined up, seamless service for patients and their carers. This means that health, voluntary, and social care partners will work even more closely.”

NHS England announced last year that Somerset was going to be one of the areas to pilot the new Community Mental Health Framework, the only county in the South West.

The procurement, undertaken by Somerset Partnership NHS Foundation Trust and led strategically by Somerset Clinical Commissioning Group and Somerset County Council (both Adult Social Care and Public Health), has seen a contract awarded worth in total over £1million per annum. The contract will begin on 17 January 2020 and run until January 2022, with an option to extend to January 2023.

The alliance comprises national charity, Rethink Mental Illness Ltd, and a further nine local organisations: Age UK Somerset, The Balsam Centre, Chard Watch CIC, Citizens Advice, Mind in Somerset, Second Step, Somewhere House, Spark Somerset and Somerset and Wessex Eating Disorders Association (SWEDA). Other voluntary and community groups will be invited to get involved as development of the service progresses.

Feedback from the Early Help Strategic Commissioning Board

VCSE Advocate Feedback from the Early Help Strategic Commissioning Board, from Angela Kerr, CEO at Citizens Advice South Somerset.

Early Help Somerset is described as “everyone’s responsibility; we want children, families, communities and agencies to work together so that families are assisted to help themselves and are supported as soon as a need arises. includes providing appropriate advice and support from a single agency, through to co-ordinated, multi-agency, intensive support, sometimes from specialist services”.

Resources for VCSE

visit for access to training and the Early Help training pack

Early Help Advice line (for any agency with a concern and needing some guidance) can reached on 01823 355803

More information is available via

Opportunities for VCSE

Early Help Fund (total of £200,000) to open in January 2020. Commissioner is Louise Palmer. AK suggested that:

a) Commissioners include a common outcome framework for successful bidders

b) County have a response for unsuccessful bidders to develop a network of community groups

c) Link successful projects to the wider VCSE (disseminate impact etc)

The date of the next meeting is 5th February 2020.


Feedback from the Safer Somerset Partnership Meeting

Feedback from the Safer Somerset Partnership meeting which was held on Thurdsay 5th December, by Jane Knowles, Chief Executive Officer at SASP.

Violence Reduction Unit

There are 2 Violence reduction units, one in Bristol and one in Somerset. Their purpose is to improve ways to identify vulnerable people and children, and one of the priorities is to embed processes. The Units are Funded through Home Office funds.

The team is progressing, and posts have been filled. A better overview will be given at the next meeting in March.

Health and Wellbeing Board update

There is a data sharing panel which sits under the Health and Wellbeing Board, it will encourage data sharing between organisations and services to benefit the system, but more importantly enable individuals access services and support sooner.

The Nelson Trust Project SHE (Support, Help, Engagement)

Presentation by Nicki Gould from The Nelson Trust, outlining how the project has progressed.

Finance Update

The 2020/21 Community Safety Grant has been approved, totaling £211k. The money is designed to achieve the priorities outlined below:

  1. Protect people from the harm of domestic and sexual abuse
  2. Identify and prevent the exploitation of vulnerable people
  3. Identify inequalities and vulnerabilities and offer support to improve health outcome and reduce harm
  4. Meet the partnerships statutory duties

There is no application process and the criteria has yet to be agreed.

The next meeting will take place on Thursday 5th March 2020.