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A new pilot project to support the mental health and wellbeing of local individuals has been officially launched by PIPS Hope and Support. The official launch was held over Zoom and First Minister Arlene Foster and Deputy First Minister Michelle O'Neill both spoke at the event.

The WELL-bean Café project, which is the first of its kind in Northern Ireland is funded by the Southern Health and Social Care Trust initially for a six-month period.  The design of the project has been supported by employing a co-design and co-production lived experience model alongside a stakeholder analysis approach.

Guests at the launch of the Café

The WELL-Bean Café will operate over evenings and weekends, for people who are experiencing mental or emotional distress.  Service hours will operate on a Friday evening from 6:00pm – 11:00pm, Saturday afternoon from 12:00pm – 7:00pm, Sunday afternoon from 12:00pm – 7:00pm and Monday evening from 6:00pm – 11:00pm.  Initially, due to the current restrictions, the project will be delivered remotely.  When restrictions permit, the project will then move to face-to-face and be based at An Storas, Ballybot House, 28 Cornmarket, Newry, BT35 8BG. 

This significant initiative will provide a clinical alternative to the Emergency Departments to reduce mental & emotional distress and will work with people to resolve or better manage their situational problems with 1:1 counselling and peer support in a unique social space, where light refreshments will also be available. Access to the service will be with self-referrals, and a direct referral pathway from the NIAS and PSNI.

On Monday 29th March, The WELL-Bean Café was launched remotely. As well as the  First and Deputy First Ministers also present were Finance Minister, Conor Murphy, SHSCT Director of Mental Health and Disability Services, Barney McNeany, NMDDC Chairperson, Laura Devlin and representatives from the Voluntary and Community sectors, Ambulance Service and the PSNI. 

Speaking at the launch, PIPS Hope and Support’s chief executive officer, Seamus McCabe told guests how this new initiative will allow individuals to access vital support on evenings and weekends if they are in mental or emotional distress “We are delighted to be launching this new initiative which is the first in its kind in Northern Ireland.  We have been linking with the Crisis Café in Leeds and designing the café using lived experience all who have been instrumental in assisting us with this new initiative.  This exciting new project will allow individuals to access support in a café type approach outside the normal service hours which may not be accessible to them.  The project will be staffed by qualified counsellors and highly trained volunteers who will support any one presenting to the café.” 

First Minister Arlene Foster said: “Addressing challenges around mental health, wellbeing and suicide prevention is a key priority for the Executive and we are all too aware of the impact of Covid-19 in deepening issues within our communities. 

“These are complex matters requiring innovative and creative solutions and I’m pleased to see that collaboration and co-design are at the heart of this initiative. The involvement of those with lived-experience, along with other stakeholders, is vital to ensuring the relevance and effectiveness of the support provided.

“The WELL-Bean Café, along with the range of services from PIPS Hope and Support, shows us compassion, kindness and respect in action. 

“I commend the commitment of all of those involved in creating the Café as a way to help provide much-needed expert and practical support in a safe, welcoming and timely way.”

Deputy First Minister Michelle O’Neill said: “PIPS Hope and Support provides a vital service for the local community. Over many years, they have shown wonderful compassion, care and support to people in emotional distress, and they have provided great comfort and advice to many families and within the community.

“There is no doubt that the last year has really taken its toll on people’s mental health and emotional wellbeing and it is so important that anyone who needs support can access it. The launch of the new WELL-Bean Café is timely and enormously welcome. It will provide expert support in a safe space for people who are in emotional distress and I have no doubt that it will make a positive difference in the lives of many people.

“I pay tribute to all those who have been part of this important initiative; people with lived experience, those in the community and voluntary sector, and those in statutory services who have worked in partnership to design and deliver this excellent service.”

Seamus added “We are also extremely appreciative and would like to thank the SHSCT Director of Mental Health and Disability Services, Barney McNeany and his department for providing the vital funding for this pilot.  That too of CEO, David Badminton of AMH who has assisted us with the venue for the project.  My thanks also to the many individuals from across the voluntary/community and statutory sectors for their endless support and that of the support and guidance received from those individuals with lived experience.”

Following on, SHSCT Mental Health Director, Barney McNeany welcomed the pilot project and stated “As part of our Towards Zero Suicide campaign the Southern Trust is delighted to be working with PIPS Hope & Support as partners in this exciting and innovative venture. Trust staff have and will continue to work, closely with our partners to make sure we maximise the benefits of this investment to help improve the lives of those who will use the WELL-bean Café. I commend the staff of PIPS Hope & Support AND THE Mental Health Team to make this idea a reality for Southern Trust Residents. “ its an excellent example of how statutory and community services can work together to improve outcomes for those in Mental Distress.

Patricia Trainor, chair of PIPS board of directors stated,

"The board of directors wish to also express their thanks to those involved in getting the Cafe of the ground. PIPS is delighted to offer this new service; building on the excellent services already in place. If you are anxious, emotionally distressed or feeling hopeless we want you to know the WELLbean cafe is there for you. It is a safe space available to you at times when you might be feeling at your lowest."


For more information, or to refer into the project, email or telephone; 07840 268473

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