David’s Story: How the Crisis Cafe helped change my life – former homeless Southport resident becomes mental health volunteer

Sefton resident David, formerly street homeless and struggling with his mental health, shares his story this World Mental Health Day (10 October) to encourage others to reach out and get support.

David, 57, suffers from bipolar disorder and last autumn was sleeping rough in a shelter on Southport promenade when he stumbled across a flyer for the Sefton Crisis Cafes. With locations in both Southport and Crosby, the Crisis Cafe service offered him out of hours support for his mental health conditions and would go on to help him change his life for the better.

The Southport Crisis Cafe offered David a warm welcome, food and drink, a calm and safe space and a group of friendly staff who provided a wealth of support for both mental health and practical issues that he was experiencing. They gave him one to one support with his mental health concerns, helped him to register with a GP, get a winter clothing grant and referral to a food bank, as well as providing regular social activities with the staff and other service users in the cafe’s social space – all of which began to have a hugely positive impact on David’s life.

WATCH: David shares his story: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qUUN7Mtlk5o

David said: “It’s not possible to measure it, I’ve made some great friends through the café and there is nobody in my life who’s been there longer than (Crisis Cafe staff) Sherran and Sarah.

“I’m a lot more positive than I was. I know that there is somebody there if I need someone.”

David now has a place to live with a housing association and has seen great improvements in his physical and mental health since accessing support from the Southport Crisis Cafe. He is so thankful for the help he has received that he now works as a volunteer for the service, offering support and encouraging others in similar situations to himself to come along and get help when they need it.

He said: “I’ve got a lot to be thankful for. I wanted to give a little bit back, to make up for what I’ve received.

“I’m not qualified to give advice, I can however fill in a form, I can put the kettle on, and if somebody wants to come and have a quiet chat – I think I’m a good listener.

“Seeing a change in some of the people who come through the doors – I get a buzz from seeing other people progress.”

Sherran Robb, manager of the Sefton Crisis Cafes, said: “Seeing the changes that David has made in his life, with the support of the Crisis Cafe, is a wonderful result.

“We are delighted to have had David’s support as a volunteer and to now see him helping others, and would encourage anyone who is suffering with their mental health to come along or reach out to our team this World Mental Health Day and beyond.

“Many local organisations have worked together in partnership to provide the Crisis Cafe service for Sefton, and seeing the impact it can have on people like David shows just how essential this service is to those struggling with mental health issues.

The Sefton Crisis Cafes are based in Crosby and Southport, and offer out of hours support to anyone aged 18 years or over in Sefton experiencing a mental health crisis. They offer drop-in sessions from 5pm-11pm on Friday, Saturday and Sunday evenings to give local residents a place of safety as an alternative to A&E.

The service also offers a social space with refreshments and one to one support to reduce stress and help manage crisis situations, as well as support via phone, email or online Zoom calls.

The Sefton Crisis Cafe service was set up thanks to the local NHS in Sefton, Sefton Council, Mersey Care NHS Foundation Trust and local community groups; Sefton CVS and Parenting 2000.

Find out more about the Sefton Crisis Cafes at: www.seftoncvs.org.uk/project/crisis-cafe or get in touch with the team by emailing: crisiscafe@seftoncvs.org.uk or calling 0300 323 0197.

Further information on mental health and wellbeing support and services in Sefton can be found by following #SeftonInMind on social media.

World Mental Health Day is organised by the World Federation for Mental Health and is recognised every year on 10 October. Find out more at: www.wmhdofficial.com or follow #WMHD2022 and #WorldMentalHealthDay on social media.