Dundee mental health bosses have been urged to look west for inspiration as a 24-hour crisis centre prepares to open in Perth.
Campaigners have demanded a Dundee centre for several years but, despite cross-party political support in the city, the project appears mired in the planning stage.
Derek Given, Anchor House managing director, said they became aware of a similar gap in services in Perth.
His team has been working for around a year and a half towards opening The Neuk 24 hours a day, after being offered a suitable property in December 2019.
The third sector centre first opened in June with the extension to 24 hours planned for the start of April.
Safe space in Perth
He said: “That’s the difference The Neuk has made to people. They now feel they’ve got this safe space they can contact when they are in crisis, when they are really emotionally distressed. They can come and they’ve got some place now.
“It’s almost as if a weight has been lifted off people’s shoulders. They’ve got something that they’ve never had before.”
The centre is funded by lottery, Forteviot Trust and Perth and Kinross Council. It has also received huge support from Caledonian Housing Association and Gleneagles Hotel, which has outfitted the centre with spare furniture.
Staff at the centre work with colleagues at fellow organisations The Lighthouse For Perth, Andy’s Man Club and Women’s Wellbeing Club to get people the right kind of support.
Derek, who has worked in the sector for 25 years, said running costs amount to around £300,000 a year with funding in place for at least the next two years.
“Allowing people to come direct to the centre means they don’t have to access services in other ways,” he added.
“This will have a huge effect in the future in freeing up resources.”
‘We can’t wait any longer’
Labour North East list MSP Jenny Marra, who has campaigned for the centre for several years and recently launched a public petition to gather further public support, said the Perth example offered one route forward for a similar centre in Dundee.
She said: “Perth has set up a mental health crisis centre which opened its doors during Covid-19 while the authorities in Dundee have used Covid-19 as an excuse for doing nothing.
“The Perth centre is simple but effective and is helping many citizens get the help they need every day.
“This is in the same health board area. There is no good reason why Dundee can’t do the same.
“The comments from Dundee City Council about working groups and consultations seem spurious now.
“I urge the Dundee authorities to take a leaf out of Perth’s book and just get on with it. We can’t wait any longer.”
A Dundee Health and Social Care Partnership spokeswoman said: “Providing a safe and compassionate response to people experiencing emotional distress remains a key priority in Dundee.
“We will be bringing a progress report on a 24/7 mental health crisis centre to the April meeting of the Dundee Health and Social Care Partnership Integration Joint Board.”