Published 9 March 2018

1803 Folkestone Mind.jpg

Matthew Scott, the Police and Crime Commissioner, is again looking to provide money to projects which cut Kent Police’s unsustainable levels of mental health demand.
Launching his Mental Health and Policing Fund for 2018/19, the PCC said:

‘One of the guiding principles of my Safer in Kent Plan is that people suffering mental ill health need the right care from the right person.
‘It is estimated that a third of Kent Police’s time is spent dealing with individuals and cases involving mental health, which cannot be sustainable. It is in everyone’s interest to ensure vulnerable people are helped in the most appropriate way.’

Among those receiving funding last year was the charity Folkestone and District Mind. Its safeTALK project offers the opportunity for people feeling suicidal to speak with a trained listener at the centre in Mill Bay.
In addition, training has been provided to people from local organisations in how to better support those with mental health issues.
Jennifer Maiden-Brooks, chairman of Folkestone and District Mind, said:

‘We have been very grateful for the support given to this project by the Police and Crime Commissioner, who we know has taken a personal interest in this work. This project is a direct response to the alarming number of deaths from suicide that have taken place in East Folkestone over the past two years.
‘These are early days but we believe that in time, and with the support of the local community, we will develop a model that can make a big difference. We know from the feedback we have received so far that people who have reached desperation feel safer just by knowing that there is some support available to them.’

During a visit to Folkestone and District Mind, Mr Scott said:

‘When my Mental Health and Policing Fund launched last year it was the first of its kind in the country. Thanks to the money I’ve awarded to charities like Mind, there is now better community support available for vulnerable people in Kent and that will hopefully reduce the numbers of people in mental health crisis coming into contact with Kent Police.’

In total, Mr Scott awarded almost £200,000 from his Mental Health and Policing Fund to schemes right across Kent in 2017/18. As well as Folkestone and District Mind, the fund supported the Safe Haven Bus in Medway, crisis cafes in Maidstone and Tonbridge, Talk it Out in Deal, and a project in Thanet which uses sport to build confidence and leadership skills among young people suffering with poor mental health.
Mr Scott added:

‘I am delighted to announce that my Mental Health and Policing Fund is now open for bids again. I hope to support even more innovative projects in 2018/19.’

The maximum grant available this year is £20,000. The deadline for applications is 27 March 2018.