Hastings Safe Space has now been operating for nearly 9 months on a Saturday night in central Hastings close to the town’s bars and clubs. Developed and operated by the NSMC, on behalf of Hastings and Rother NHS Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), the service aims to reduce the demand for unnecessary A&E visits and emergency service call outs by treating young people suffering from intoxication or other minor injuries ‘on-the-spot’ in the Safe Space using our team of highly trained first aiders and volunteers.

Since opening in late December 2017, several hundred young people have visited Safe Space and over one hundred of these have received first aid treatment, primarily for intoxication, resulting in reduced work for the hard-pressed local ambulance service and A&E staff at Conquest Hospital. 

However, Safe Space is much more than a ‘Drunk tank’ and our team of trained volunteers aim to help any person who we meet. Sometimes the need is simple – such as recharging a phone or providing a bottle of water or flip-flops after a night out – while other times they are more complex, involving issues of homelessness and mental health. In these circumstances, our team refer users to the other support services available in the town and to date over fifty such referrals have been made. 

One of the most rewarding aspects of Safe Space is the feedback we receive from young people and their parents. One parent wrote:

“I cannot thank you enough for the care you provided to our son when he drank too much on a night out in Hastings. My thanks to the whole team.”

Another former client stopped some of our volunteers in the street and told them:

“As a result of the care and advice I got at Safe Space, my undiagnosed heart complaint has now been diagnosed and I am receiving treatment for it. I am very grateful to you all.”

The success of Safe Space is down to the commitment of the volunteers and first aiders who turn out every Saturday night, in all weathers, as well as the support we receive from the local NHS CCG who commissioned this innovative service.  As a result, we are delighted to announce that the project has been shortlisted for the upcoming 2018 Health Service Journal (HSJ) awards that celebrate excellence in the NHS under the category: ‘Community or Primary Care Service Redesign – London and the South of England’.  We will keep you in touch with how we get on.