By Katrina ffiske 

In the centre of Churchfields, on Watt Road, a new sanctuary is being run by the charity Alabaré to help people in a crisis. Emma Wellock, Senior Service Manager of the Riverside Sanctuary, told me about the service which opened in March.

“Riverside Sanctuary is a confidential service offering mental health and emotional wellbeing support to individuals. We are a preventative service, helping people not to hit crisis point. Support is tailored to the needs of the individual and Riverside Sanctuary works closely with other agencies, where possible, to ensure individuals receive a joined-up approach to support. Our team is completely non-judgemental: we are not here to lecture people on what they should do, we are here as a sounding board and to walk alongside them.

“We offer a calm space for anyone to call or visit if they find themselves struggling with their day-to-day lives. By talking to us, we can help identify what their problems may be and point them in the right direction for help if they ask.

“The service has evolved over the past six months,” Emma said. “Owing to Covid-19, we initially talked on the phone to those who were suffering during lockdown but now professionals are referring people to us. Many who come to us have quite complex issues: they may have mental health problems, addiction, or be suffering from trauma. Some clients only talk to us once, but I am pleased to say that, at the moment, we have 106 active clients who come back to us for help.”

It was inspiring to see how proud Emma was of the Riverside Sanctuary and the work she and her team are doing to help individuals. I was shown some of the comments that clients have made: “very caring and very supportive, thank-you very much”; “When I wasn’t feeling particularly good, anxiety, dreams, I felt horrible, thank-you for inviting me for a cup of tea.” It is important to spread the word about this wonderful service to those who need help.

The Riverside Sanctuary was commissioned by NHS England. By early 2021, the aim is for every locality to have a similar place of calm. It has been set up to help statutory services from the high frequency that people use them. The Sanctuary is open seven days a week from 3pm to 11pm.

Riverside Sanctuary, 01722 466680

Alabaré, Riverside House, 2 Watt Road, Churchfields, Salisbury, SP2 7UD