More people invited to come forward and book their COVID-19 vaccination

Solent NHS Trust, who provide COVID-19 vaccines at the four large-scale vaccination centres across Hampshire and the Isle of Wight, are encouraging people aged 65 and over, those recently added to the government’s shielding list and adult carers in receipt of a carers allowance to go online and book their vaccination, or call 119.

This week letters will also be going out to local people who are aged 64 inviting them to book.

The four large scale vaccination centres have good appointment availability and are spread across the area at:

  • Basingstoke Fire Station
  • St James’ Hospital in Portsmouth
  • The Riverside Centre in Newport on the Isle of Wight
  • Oakley Road in Millbrook, Southampton

David Noyes, Chief Operating Officer at Solent NHS Trust, said: “We are really proud to be playing a key role in the NHS’s biggest ever vaccination programme. It has been fantastic to see the positive reactions of people as they receive their first doses.”

David Noyes continued: “We know that the vaccination is a real way out of this pandemic. We are encouraging eligible people to book their vaccination online using the national booking system, or to call 119 if they are unable to use the internet.

“Anyone aged 65 to 69 who has not yet been vaccinated is now being urged to respond to their recent invite to get their life saving coronavirus vaccine.

“People who have been added to the government’s shielding list and people in receipt of carers allowance can now book an appointment. They do not need to wait for a letter.

“We have appointments available and you can choose the centre which best suits you.”

People need an appointment to get their vaccine – they cannot just walk in without an appointment. Appointments are released regularly and there are good levels of availability, usually within a day or so, at each of the centres.  More slots are released every couple of days, so people should keep checking back.

If people have already been given an appointment by their local GP-led service, they should attend that and not book another through the national service.  If people would prefer to be vaccinated by their local (GP) vaccination service, they can wait to be called by their surgery.

Vaccinations are being offered to people in line with recommendations from the independent JCVI.

Ensuring all eligible people have the opportunity to be vaccinated

Summary

In just two months, the health service has vaccinated more than 10 million people, visited 10,000 care homes and issued over six million invitations from the National Booking Service.

The last invites to those aged 70 and over on the Shielded Patients List who are yet to be vaccinated have now either been delivered or are due to arrive this week (w/c 8th Feb), meaning vaccines have been offered to everyone eligible whose contact details the NHS has.

To ensure that nobody is left behind, the NHS is now asking people in this group who have not had their first dose yet to come forward now and make an appointment.

Members of the public not in these groups will still need to wait to be contacted.

How this will work

Anyone aged 70 and over or on the Shielded Patients List (because they are clinically extremely vulnerable) will be able to use the National Booking System to book an appointment without needing a letter, provided they are registered with a GP (so that records can be matched). Members of the public not in these groups will still need to wait to be contacted.

The National Immunisations Management Service is also making follow up phone calls and sending reminder letters to people to offer help and advice on booking an appointment. Follow up text messages are also planned where we have people’s mobile phone number.

GP services will also be following up this week with any of their patients in this group they are yet to vaccinate, particularly those on the Shielded Patients List. They will also be working to ensure housebound patients are protected before the end of the week, with additional funding of £10 per patient being provided to help them do this.

What this means for the public

People will be encouraged to arrange an appointment at a Vaccination Centre or community pharmacy-led service by visiting www.nhs.uk/covid-vaccination, where they can choose a time slot and location that suits them.

People should try to use the website where possible. For those who can’t, they can call 119 free of charge, anytime between 7am and 11pm seven days a week. The phone line can get very busy, so people may choose to ring later in the day when it is less busy. British Sign Language, text relay and interpreter services are available.

People over aged 70 and over or on the Shielded Patient List can also choose to wait to be invited by a local GP-led service, or contact them directly if they haven’t heard anything – which may be because they are not currently registered. We would encourage anyone who isn’t already to register with a GP; no proof of address or immigration status is needed.

What this means for frontline health and social care workers and care home residents

Action is underway to continue to offer vaccines to every eligible health and social care worker. This is being led by employers, including local authorities and NHS organisations.

By the end of January NHS teams had visited all of the care homes they were able to. Visits will continue to homes which had outbreaks when it is safe to do so, and repeat visits are also underway to homes to ensure residents and staff who were elsewhere or ill at the time of the first visit can receive their first dose too.

Q&As

Does this mean people can turn up at vaccination services without an appointment?

No. People will still need to make an appointment in advance before going to any vaccination service. This is important because booking slots are carefully managed to allow for social distancing and the number of appointments is based on the supply available that day.

Do I need to know my NHS number to use the booking website/phone line?

No. It’s easier if you do have your NHS number, but if you don’t both the NHS booking website and phone line can still book appointments using other details, provided you are registered with a GP practice.

You can find your NHS number on the NHS App or at www.nhs.uk/find-nhs-number

If I’ve already had my first dose will I be able to book my second in this way?

No. You will only be able to book if our records show you have yet to have your first dose. If you have already had your first dose, please wait for the NHS to contact you about your second.

What if I don’t live close to one of the large Vaccination Centres?

The National Booking Service also handles booking for pharmacy-led vaccination services, of which there are around 200 across the country. Only a small number of people don’t live within travelling distance of at least one of these services.

Alternatively, you can also choose to wait to be contacted by your local GP services. If they haven’t been in contact already, this will be soon.

Does the NHS have the capacity and supplies available if lots of people now book?

The vast majority of people in these groups have already either had their first dose or are booked in to be vaccinated shortly.

The NHS is confident that the supplies and booking slots are available to accommodate the expected number of people who may now come forward.

Why have I not been contacted by anyone about a vaccination?

If you are 70 or over or on the Shielded Patient List, then you it is likely that you have been contacted by the NHS already.. If you haven’t, this could be for a number of reasons, but is most likely to be because you are not registered with a GP or have recently moved, and we therefore don’t have your contact details.

If you have never registered with a GP or haven’t been to a GP for a number of years, we would recommend speaking with your local practice about registering.

As well as getting access to Covid-19 vaccines, being registered with a GP also means you are invited to important health checks such as for cancer or heart disease, and can access care easier when you need it.

More information on registering with a GP is available at https://www.nhs.uk/nhs-services/gps/how-to-register-with-a-gp-surgery/

Will this approach also apply to the next priority groups when it is their turn to be vaccinated?

No. For the moment this only applies to people aged 70 and over and those who are clinically extremely vulnerable.

When the time comes to start vaccinating other priority groups, this will be by invitation only so that we can manage the supplies of vaccines available in the fairest possible way.

How do I get an NHS number?

You may already have an NHS number but just don’t know it. If you don’t know your NHS number, you can find out if you have one and what it is at: https://digital.nhs.uk/services/nhs-number

If you don’t have an NHS number this is likely to be because you are not registered with a GP. If this is the case, we would recommend speaking with your local practice about registering.

As well as getting access to Covid-19 vaccines, being registered with a GP also means you are invited to important health checks such as for cancer or heart disease, and can access care easier when you need it.

More information on registering with a GP is available at https://www.nhs.uk/nhs-services/gps/how-to-register-with-a-gp-surgery/

What if I book an appointment through the NHS website or 119 and I need to rearrange it?

If you need to rearrange an appointment that you booked through the NHS website, you can do this through the ‘manage your appointments’ section on the booking page.

If you booked through 119, you can also ring to rearrange your appointment.

If you can’t attend your appointment for any reason, please cancel or rearrange it so that the appointment slot can be given to someone else who needs it.

Can I still book if I previously had an appointment but didn’t attend or cancel it?

Yes. Only those who have had a vaccination recorded are marked on our system and are therefore unable to book again.

A letter came to my home but it was for someone else. Can I still use it to book an appointment?

No. Unless you are aged 70 or over or on the Shielded Patients List you will not be able to book an appointment.

If you receive a letter for someone who does not live at your address anymore, please return to sender in the usual way so that our records can be updated.

Increased mental wellbeing support for young people

Young people in Portsmouth now have access to a free, digital mental health service. The Kooth online counselling and emotional wellbeing service has been commissioned by Health and Care Portsmouth. It will enable more young people to be supported, which is particularly important given the impact of COVID-19 on children and young people’s mental health.

Kooth.com is available to young people aged 11-18 years old in Portsmouth, or up to the age of 25 for care leavers and those with an Education Health and Care Plan. The site provides young people with a free, safe and anonymous way to access support from qualified counsellors as well as a range of self-help resources for mild to moderate mental health issues, such as anxiety, loneliness, stress and body image.

Kooth, which is accredited by The British Association of Psychotherapy and Counselling (BACP), has no referrals, thresholds or waiting lists. Young people can self-register at kooth.com. The site is available 24/7, with counselling available 12pm – 10pm Monday to Friday and 6pm – 10pm at weekends, all year round.

The decision to introduce an online platform follows feedback from young people and their families that a digital service would be a convenient and accessible way to access support, with young people liking the ability to remain anonymous.

Young people using Kooth can use instant messaging to speak to a qualified counsellor via an online drop-in service or booked session. They can also join moderated forum discussions about a range of topics, and use a daily journal to track their feelings and reflect on how they’re doing.

The launch of Kooth further bolsters Portsmouth’s mental health support for children and young people which was praised in the recent multi-agency report following joint targeted area inspections (JTAIs) in the city. The Kooth offer complements the Mental Health Support Teams, which are currently available in 32 Portsmouth primary and secondary schools, and this additional provision will help to ensure that young people can be supported more quickly. The Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) continues to be available to support with more moderate to severe mental health issues in young people. Other online national resources also exist to provide mental health advice and support to young people and their families, ensuring there is a well-rounded offer available.

The commissioning of Kooth is part of Portsmouth’s 2020-2023 Social, Emotional and Mental Health Strategy for children and young people, which includes a focus on ensuring early help is available to support emotional wellbeing and mental health needs, preventing difficulties from escalating and requiring specialist mental health services.

Dr Linda Collie, Clinical Leader for NHS Portsmouth Clinical Commissioning Group, said;

We know that there has been an increase in young people experiencing mental health issues, and that was before you take into account the impact of Covid-19. The arrival of Kooth couldn’t have come at a better time and it will serve as an integral component of Portsmouth’s mental health provision.

“Being able to support young people at an early stage of them experiencing mental health concerns will help to reduce those needing more intensive support once issues have become more complex and deep-rooted.”

Alison Jeffery, Director of Children’s Services at Portsmouth City Council, said;

“Digital solutions are an important part of our mental health strategy for young people and have become even more essential due to Covid-19, which has led to a requirement for remote options as well as increased demand for services. We’re pleased that Kooth will enable more young people to be supported, more quickly, especially during these challenging times.”

“By providing young people with a highly accessible and anonymous way to access support safely from experienced counsellors we hope this will mitigate any stigma that young people may feel about accessing support for their mental health.”

Cllr Suzy Horton, Cabinet Member for Children, Families & Education, added;

“Supporting children and young people with their mental wellbeing is a fundamental element in enabling them to achieve a bright future. I’m thrilled that we’ve further enhanced our mental health support with a new digital service. Young people told us that they liked accessing support this way, especially the ability to remain anonymous, so I’m pleased that we’ve been able to launch this at such a pivotal time. With the challenges of the pandemic and disruption to normal routines, alongside the pressures that young people already face, it’s important that we help them to feel supported and connected as best we can.”

Veterans’ Mental Health High Intensity Service

Hampshire and Isle of Wight veterans and their families experiencing mental health crisis can now access a new mental health High Intensity Service (HIS).

Veterans, or their loved ones, can call NHS 111 if they need urgent mental health support or are in a crisis, say that they are a veteran and access rapid support from mental health practitioners within 111.  Alternatively, veterans can ask their GP or any advocate to make a referral on their behalf.

The HIS is part of a trio of specialist mental health support for veterans which are already up and running across the South of England, which includes the Veterans’ Complex Treatment Service (CTS) and the Veterans’ Mental Health Transition, Intervention and Liaison Service (TILS). Working alongside these services, the HIS aims to provide a swift and direct route into dedicated mental health services, whilst providing a wrap around service to manage social health problems, such as homelessness, debt and joblessness.

The HIS is part of a new national pathfinder being rolled out across areas of England from November 2020 onwards, with Solent NHS Trust as the Lead Provider for the Hampshire and the Isle of Wight. It has been launched in response to the feedback from the Veteran community.

You can refer a veteran or a member of their family into the High Intensity Service via NHS 111, by emailing snhs.veteranshis.se@nhs.net, or the veteran themselves calling 111.

For more information on the HIS, visit the Solent NHS website.

 

Portsmouth City Council to pioneer powerful new fostering model for the south coast

Foster carers in Portsmouth are set to benefit from a pioneering new model of fostering which aims to provide additional support to carers and children by replicating an extended family.

This innovative project brings together up to ten foster families to form a constellation. At the heart of each constellation is a hub home where experienced foster carers support all carers and children within the constellation by offering advice, sleepovers and social events.

The Mockingbird Family Model is the first of its kind to be implemented on the south coast. Based on the idea of an extended family, the model seeks to provide stable homes for children and young people, whilst also improving the support that is available for foster carers.

Mockingbird has been shown to help families support each other and overcome challenges. It has also shown significant benefits to the lives of children and young people in care by building positive links with other families in the constellation as well as their own. The new model encourages and builds a community of carers around the children and young people and ensures a continuity of care, with other examples of this model leading to a reduction in moves for children to different foster homes, care leaver homelessness and improving foster carer retention.

Cllr Suzy Horton, Cabinet Member for Children, Families and Education, said:

“We’re thrilled to be pioneering this model of care in the south coast. Mockingbird will enable us to offer another type of fostering which will create communities around the children and young people in care.

“Even while we’re setting up our first constellation, we are already looking ahead and are keen to start building our next group within Portsmouth.”

The first constellation is ready and will launch officially in January 2021. From January, the hub carers will then get together with the satellite carers and the children regularly for monthly social events, in person or virtually.

Hub home carers, Alison and Lee Dowd, said:

“Lee and I have been fostering for almost eight years and we realised this kind of support was needed amongst carers and looked after children. Mockingbird ticked all the boxes to encourage foster carers to support each other and for the children to feel part of an extended family. We are really excited and proud to be in Portsmouth’s first Mockingbird hub.”

The Mockingbird Family Model is just one kind of foster care available. Foster Portsmouth welcomes enquiries from people who would like to know more about becoming a carer. As well as the Mockingbird Family Model, there are also opportunities to foster short-term and long-term, act as a family link and even help a young person to independence with the supported lodgings scheme, which only requires 10 hours a week.

For more information on fostering, please contact the fostering recruitment team on 023 9283 4071, visit www.foster.portsmouth.gov.uk or email fostering@portsmouthcc.gov.uk

More support for people with both learning disabilities and diabetes in the South East

Thousands more people with learning disabilities who also have diabetes will no longer need to do painful finger prick tests thanks to life changing technology now available on the NHS.

In a major expansion of the Flash glucose monitoring rollout, people with learning disabilities will be eligible for a Flash device to help them manage any type of diabetes, provided they use insulin to treat their condition.

Bradley Emmans, who is from Portsmouth and has Downs Syndrome, was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes at 9 months old. He was recently prescribed a Flash glucose monitor which will help him to manage his condition via a mobile app.

Each Flash device is the size of a £2 coin and is worn for up to 14 days at a time on the back of the upper arm. Having this means Bradley no longer needs multiple finger prick checks a day in order to monitor his blood sugar levels.

The information collected by Flash helps Bradley, his family, and his carers track his sugar levels 24/7. The monitor alerts them when the level is is too high or too low, reducing the risk of hypos which can be fatal.

It also allows his clinical team to identify what insulin changes are required in order to achieve optimal glucose control and keep Bradley well.

Bradley’s Dad, Clifford Emmans said:

“Before Flash, Bradley’s diabetes control was not good. His levels were always high, meaning we had to do frequent finger prick checks which Bradley hated. So much so, he developed severe anxiety about his hands being touched.

“He doesn’t recognise the signs of changes in his glucose levels, so Flash not only does that for him, but it also tells me what Bradley isn’t able to.

“Bradley loves going to concerts, but before Flash it was always a hassle to check his levels in the middle of the action as it would mean getting all the kit out in an unsterile environment. Now he has Flash, Bradley can carry on dancing and I simply wave my phone past his arm. I’ve got my reading, no one in the crowd is any the wiser and Brad is happy.

“Now Bradley’s glucose levels sit at around 6 or 7 which is a huge improvement, and his anxiety has dramatically reduced. Flash has been a total blessing and it has completely changed our lives.”

Duncan Burton, Chief Nurse for NHS England and NHS Improvement in the South East said:

“This announcement is a fantastic example of how the NHS is prioritising the use of the latest technology to support people with learning disabilities.

“Flash glucose monitors can make a huge difference to the way people with a learning disability can manage their diabetes, helping them to stay well and out of hospital.”

The original roll out of Flash devices only applied to select patients with Type 1 diabetes, but many people with diabetes and a learning disability have Type 2 diabetes. The NHS is now offering Flash to all patients with a learning disability and diabetes if they use insulin to manage their condition.

Up to three thousand people are expected to benefit from the roll out to people with a learning disability.

Solent Mind launches Coronavirus Mental Wellbeing Helpline

Leading Hampshire and Isle of Wight mental health charity Solent Mind has launched a free helpline, available to those experiencing poor mental health or wellbeing issues as a result of the Coronavirus pandemic.

Experienced advisors can offer bitesize support to those feeling anxious or low as well as practical guidance on keeping mentally well during isolation. The confidential service can also signpost callers to specific local support, such as benefits advice or bereavement services.

Solent Mind Chief Executive, Kevin Gardner says: “We’re seeing that Coronavirus has significantly impacted the emotional health of our communities through the uncertainty attached to income, housing, family and relationships. Our knowledgeable staff, many of whom have their own personal lived experience of mental health issues, can offer useful ways to move forward.”

Solent Mind supports over 25,000 people each year through a network of Wellbeing Centres, talking therapies and specialist recovery-focused services across the Solent region. Although face-to-face appointments have been temporarily suspended, many core services continue to operate a vital telephone service for both new and existing service users alike.

It is hoped that the introduction of the Coronavirus Mental Wellbeing Helpline and the adaptation of Solent Mind’s mental health services can reduce the pressure on NHS services and the risk of people experiencing an urgent mental health crisis.

Southern Health NHS Foundation Trust Chief Executive, Dr Nick Broughton says: “Charities such as Solent Mind play a vital role alongside NHS mental health services and we need to work together now more than ever. I welcome the new helpline and applaud colleagues at Solent Mind for adapting their services to continue supporting people in need during this extraordinary time.”

The Solent Mind Coronavirus Mental Wellbeing Helpline is available to residents in Hampshire and the Isle of Wight, Monday to Friday, 10am – 4pm (except bank holidays) on 023 8017 9049.

Further details can be found in Solent Mind’s Coronavirus Wellbeing Hub, which contains up to date service information and free downloadable mental health toolkits for the whole family: www.solentmind.org.uk/coronavirushub.

ENDS

Getting end of life care right

Many of us don’t like to talk about it, but it comes to us all – the period at the end of our lives, when we reach our final weeks, days, and hours.

Getting end of life care right is hugely important – both for the patient, and their loved ones. At such a sad and stressful time it matters more than ever that support is timely, effective, and caring.

The local NHS is looking at how it delivers end of life care – for people of all ages, living with all conditions and illnesses, at every stage – from diagnosis all the way through to palliative care, and bereavement support. The aim is to learn from people’s experiences to help improve services and support in the future.

Hearing from people with personal, direct experience is essential – whether it is patients, carers, those who have been bereaved, and staff – to give the NHS a real insight into what works well, and what could be improved.

All aspects of end of life care are being looked at, including care from staff in GP surgeries, community teams, hospital staff, and hospices, not only in Portsmouth but also in Fareham and Gosport, and South Eastern Hampshire, as well.

Early discussions with patients and carers suggest that there are some areas of real strength, and some areas where people feel they have not received the care and support they needed – such as communication, access to information, or the way that different teams work together.

The ambition of the local NHS is to work with local people to develop services which give consistently excellent care, which involve patients and carers, and which are designed around the needs of patients, not organisations.

Dr Elizabeth Fellows, clinical chair of NHS Portsmouth Clinical Commissioning Group and involved in work on end of life care across the Portsmouth and south east Hampshire area, said: “It might sound like a contradiction in terms, but a ‘good death’ is so very important. If a person can be supported towards the end of their life in the right way, it can bring real comfort to them and their loved ones. But if the care isn’t good enough, quick enough, or compassionate enough, it can cause real upset and even trauma.

“We aren’t just thinking about the final few days of a person’s life. We want to look at how the NHS and its partners can help people right from the initial diagnosis, and then at every stage after that. It involves not just hospices and community teams, but hospital staff and GP surgery teams as well – so many of us play a role, we need to see where we can improve, and perhaps where we need to work together more effectively.”

A few early discussions with small groups of patients and carers have already taken place, and now a survey is available to capture feedback from a wider group. After that the intention is to set up workshop sessions to allow patients, carers, and healthcare professionals to come together to talk about what improvements are needed in more detail, and how to secure those improvements. The ambition is to involve people throughout the process.

If you have experience of end of life care, either as a patient or carer, your insight and knowledge can help to inform discussions and decisions.

Firstly, the NHS would welcome hearing about your experiences via a survey – just click here to answer a few questions – and if you are interested in learning more about future events please email pccg.commissioning@nhs.net to register your interest.

The city’s celebration and learning event for learning disabilities returns

Portsmouth’s learning disability service is inviting people with learning disabilities, their carers and professionals who work in the region to attend a free event at Gunwharf Quays on Friday 24 January.

The event will showcase the services available to people with learning disabilities in Portsmouth and will also feature a series of workshops for learning disability professionals, families and members of the public.

Portsmouth’s learning disabilities team, which is a joint service run by Portsmouth City Council and Solent NHS Trust, has transformed the way it works with people with learning disabilities in the city. It is one of a handful of services in the country recognised as outstanding by the Care Quality Commission, the care watchdog.

Cllr Matthew Winnington, the council’s Cabinet Member for Health, Wellbeing and Social Care said: “We have an excellent learning disability service here in Portsmouth – and I’m really looking forward to attending this event again, it’s a perfect way to showcase the enormous amount of talent, passion and expertise we have in the city.

“Our services bring together health and social care professionals to deliver more person-centred care that aims to help people reach their full potential, supporting all to lead healthy independent lives within their own community.”

There is a huge range of support on offer in Portsmouth for adults with learning disabilities, and the learning disability service works with local providers to make sure that there’s something for everyone. One of those providers is Creative Advances, an independent team that provides person-centred support for adults with learning disabilities and autism.

Faye Dine, Service Manager for Creative Advances, said:  “This learning and celebration event will include lots of information about the services Portsmouth offers. It gives the community an opportunity to make informed choices about the services available to them.

“We work really hard to provide meaningful activities for adults with learning disabilities and autism, offering over 50 health and wellbeing activities a week to help people develop their skills.”

The learning disability service is one of many examples of how joined up services delivered in partnership between health and care providers can make a real difference to people living in the city.

Jo Perry, Interim Head of Operations, Solent NHS Trust, said: “I am delighted that there is to be another key event to inform ourselves, our service users, their families, our partners, and our providers of the growing opportunities for people with a learning disability living in Portsmouth.

“The event promises to bring together all of our stakeholders and celebrate the numerous developments in services across the city. Whilst my passion lies with ensuring positive mental and physical well-being for people this can only be really achieved if we all work together to look at all aspects of what keep people well – friendships, work and housing. It feels that within learning disability services many of the connections required to really meet people’s needs are beginning to pay real dividends.”

The venue, Gunwharf Quays training academy, has been provided free of charge by the shopping destination.

Yvonne Clay, Senior Marketing Manager at Gunwharf Quays, said: “Gunwharf Quays is at the heart of the community in Portsmouth, and we are passionate about supporting local projects that work towards a better future for all. We’re delighted to provide a venue for this event, which will help enable every member of the community to reach their full potential.”

The celebration and learning event will be held from 10am to 4pm on Friday 24 January at the Gunwharf Quays training academy, opposite Marks and Spencer. The event is a drop in format, so attendees are invited to attend at any point during the day. Full details of the day, including details of the workshops available, can be found by visiting healthandcare.portsmouth.gov.uk/celebration

Health and social care organisations in Portsmouth are dedicated to working closely with people with learning disabilities. This includes investments in state-of-the-art facilities for young people with learning disabilities and facilitating the Portsmouth Learning Disability Partnership Board, which aims to support adults with a learning disability in Portsmouth to lead independent, fulfilled and active lives.

Help beat the January blues with PositiveMinds

January can be a difficult month – the thrill of the festive season is over and spring seems a long way off. But for Portsmouth residents who are struggling to cope, there’s a free service on hand to help people look after their emotional wellbeing – PositiveMinds.

It is there for people who are living through low mood, anxiety, or who feel overwhelmed and helpless in face of problems such as money, housing, relationships, work, bereavement, leaving the Forces, or living away from home at university.

After opening its doors in late December to offer support over Christmas, the drop in service on Middle Street is now open from Monday to Saturday – and is ready to offer support and guidance to anyone in need.

Cllr Matthew Winnington, Cabinet Member for Health, Wellbeing and Social Care visited the new service recently and said: “Taking care of your emotional health is so important – particularly as we’re approaching ‘Blue Monday’, when the stresses and strains of life can start to take a toll. It was inspiring to have the opportunity to meet the PositiveMinds team – they’re a lovely group of people who offer holistic support and can help signpost people to other services that can help get things back on track.”

Solent Mind Wellbeing Advisors, who have experience of living with, and through, mental health issues are available at the new site to provide practical advice, coping skills, and peer support, in partnership with colleagues from Solent NHS, Portsmouth City Council, and the voluntary sector.

The service’s opening hours are Monday to Friday from 12.30pm – 7.30pm and Saturday 10.30am – 1.30pm. PositiveMinds is based on Melbourne Place just off Middle Street, about 50 yards south of Winston Churchill Avenue.

PositiveMinds is a partnership between Solent Mind, Solent NHS Trust, NHS Portsmouth CCG, and Portsmouth City Council. It is funded by the local NHS, the council, and Armed Forces grants. Find out more at www.positivemindsportsmouth.org.uk

Please note: PositiveMinds is designed to help a wide range of people, but it is not a crisis service or a “mental health A&E”. If anyone needs help urgently they should call NHS 111, which now offers specialist mental health nurses, or the Samaritans on 116 123. If there is an immediate risk to someone’s safety, please dial 999.

Mental health support in Portsmouth

PositiveMinds is one of a number of projects to improve emotional wellbeing in Portsmouth that health, social care and voluntary and community groups are working together to deliver. Other projects include Towards Better Health, which provides mental health nurses to support homeless people, the Time to Change Hub, the creation of a mental health crisis card available for individuals and groups, and Portsmouth Interaction, run by BH Live to provide sports and leisure activities to those experiencing mental illness.