Norman Lamb

Case study: Dial House Crisis Centre, Leeds

Case study

Set up in 1999, Dial House is an innovative voluntary sector initiative that provides support to those experiencing a mental health crisis. It provides a homely environment where people can receive one to one support from the team of Crisis Support Workers. It is run by those who have experienced a crisis themselves and aims to provide the care that they believe, could and should have been provided for them.

They can accommodate up to 8 people from 6pm – 2am, Friday to Monday. This is a time when most mainstream services are unavailable. Additionally they run a telephone support line which is open from 6pm-2am and support groups. These include specific BME and LGBT groups and they are in the process of extending their engagement with the Deaf community.

Up to 68% of their visitors are suicidal, with around 50% self-injuring. Much of the work is with survivors of trauma and most commonly sexual abuse. They are particularly successful with those who have been excluded from services or have found it difficult to engage. This can include those with violent histories or those diagnosed with a personality disorder. There are also around 5-6 Trans people who regularly use the service. This is important as they are recognised as a particularly vulnerable, with research by mental health charity Pace finding that 48% of trans people under 26 have attempted suicide. Whilst not having a formal working relationship with the police, there are several officers who do regularly direct people to them. These are generally women who have been raped or sexually assaulted.

They characterise their overall approach as person-centred. The overarching aim is to provide a holistic, non-judgemental, non-directive, empathic and respectful service. Underpinning this is a belief that people do the best they can in the circumstances they are in. Work is led by the client in the belief that they have the resources in themselves to find their own solutions. In practice this means supporting individuals to recognise and develop their own strategies for crisis prevention and management and to address isolation and its associated problems.

They have a particular approach to risk management. It can be summarised as trusting people and giving them as much control as possible. An over-emphasis on ‘avoiding the bad’, has in their view helped generate a culture of blame in main stream services, hampering innovation and disempowering service users.

  • They work effectively in partnership with other providers, whilst maintaining confidentiality and their position as a different and alternative service. Dial House is primarily funded through the NHS and local authority.
  • Their success has led to other similar services being set up around the country, either based on, or influenced by this model. They have been recognised with numerous awards.

A user of their services said:

'I started to come to Dial House about 2 ½ years ago. When I turned up I was suffering from bad depression and drug addiction. I was very messed up, the staff here stuck by me and didn’t judge me, they also helped me believe in myself which gave me a little hope and helped me on my way to rehab.  I am doing really well and Dial House are still here for me, I am so grateful for Dial House. Thank you.'

Last updated: 03 Nov 2016