Crisis care in action: Leeds Survivor Led Crisis Service
Leeds Survivor Led Crisis Service exists as an alternative to hospitalisation, providing sanctuary, a helpline and support groups led by people using the service. They demonstrate a person-centred, non-medical approach to working with people at high risk of self-injury and suicide.
Dissatisfied with what was available, a group of Leeds campaigners who used mental healthcare services set up the Survivor Led Crisis Service. That was 12 years ago.
It offers an alternative to going into hospital and provides a non diagnostic, non medical approach to mental illness and some use it as a complement to NHS services.
Leeds Survivor Led Crisis Service has a sanctuary, Dial House, a helpline and peer led support groups run by those using the service.
Dial House offers a homely environment for people at high risk of self-injury and suicide and offers one-to-one support to help de-escalate the crisis. It is open Friday, Saturday, Sunday and Monday evenings up to 2am and can work with eight to 10 people a night. They are usually able to de-escalate a crisis, but on the rare occasions that a person is not safe to go home (by taxi) when they close, they would refer back to the statutory crisis resolution team.
Staff all have experience of mental health crisis themselves, as well as substantial experience of working with crisis.
They work to the therapeutic, person-centred approach and their philosophy is that
each individual has their own experience of crisis. The causes and impact of crisis will be different for each person. We believe that people are expert in knowing their own situations and with the right kind of attention and support can find their own solutions.
Tight confidentiality guidelines also help define them as an alternative to statutory services.
Despite being highly valued by people who use and commission their services, publicly recognised through five prestigious national awards and much visited by professionals from all over Britain and outside the UK, this model has not been replicated elsewhere in the country. Funding may be a barrier, but survivor organisations also have to work harder to gain credibility.
I have called them for support on numerous occasions and it has always helped. Sometimes just 15 minutes is enough to get me through to the next day. Their approach includes compassion, acceptance and unconditional positive regard. They also let you define if you're in crisis, you don't have to fit specific definitions or referral criteria.