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Local people in Selby lend an ear to those in emotional distress

Members of the public have lent their support to a local charity helping those with mental health difficulties in the Selby area.

Working alongside Tees, Esk and Wear Valleys NHS Foundation Trust (TEWV), The Big Communitea have enlisted the help of over thirty local people to launch a new telephone service, providing out-of-hours emotional support to people living in the area.

Over thirty paid staff and volunteers have undertaken internationally recognised mental health first aid training via the Big Communitea and are on hand to offer those contacting the service non-judgemental early intervention and listening support; signposting individuals to other local services as appropriate.

Providing an alternative to traditional mental health care, the service creates a safe space for individuals to talk about their feelings with people who have local knowledge and who can understand some of the issues they may be experiencing.

People living in the area are also benefitting from the charity’s befriending service which helps those struggling with their mental health to remain connected within their community and to support one another.

The charity also work closely with the police and crisis services, and are able to  escort those in distress to places of safety in a mental health emergency.

John Venable, mental health first aid trainer and coordinator at the Big Communitea, said, “Nobody in emotional distress should feel alone and with nowhere to turn.  We recognise that sometimes all it takes to get someone back on track and managing their mental health is a friendly ear, a cup of tea, reassurance and advice about the support available locally. We are delighted to be leading the way in using mental health first aiders to provide local support for local people.

“The response from the community has been incredible. I would like to take this opportunity to thank our call handlers, supporters and volunteers who have selflessly given their time to undertake the training and help people living in Selby and the surrounding area.  Their empathy, kindness and care of others is making a huge difference.

“Within two weeks of launching our telephone support service over 140 calls were received. We are hopeful this will continue to grow and we will be able to support more people over the coming months.”

Liz Herring, head of adult mental health services at TEWV in North Yorkshire and York said: “People contacting urgent care mental health services, often need low-level support or advice. The innovative work of John and his team is helping to make sure that people in Selby receive the right care, in the right place, when they most need it; reducing pressure on crisis services, emergency departments and the police.”

Dr Nicholas Jackson, clinical director of Selby Town Primary Care Network*, said: “Public awareness of mental health has grown significantly and it’s fantastic to see our community coming together to support each other through these uncertain and worrying times. In encouraging people to talk openly about mental health, The Big Communitea is an example of partnership working at its best, helping to remove stigma, increase access into mental health services and supporting the long term aims of local health service development.

“GP services are continuing safely throughout the coronavirus pandemic with some changes to how we are working. With John and his team of volunteers providing low-level mental health support and advice, GPs have increased capacity to support those with more complex medical conditions. We’d like to say thank you to everyone involved.”

You can contact the Big Communitea on tel. 01757 642399.  More information is available on their website

*Selby Town Primary Care Network looks after a population of 49,792 people over four GP practices in the Selby area. More information can be found on the NHS Vale of York Clinical Commissioning Group website:


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