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Cabinet to vote on retaining Link Centres in four Northern Devon towns

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Devon County Council Cabinet Members on Wednesday (December 8) will consider recommendations to retain and reopen four Mental Health support centres in Northern Devon.

Like many day centres since the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic, the Link Centres in Barnstaple, Bideford, Ilfracombe, and Holsworthy moved from face to face to virtual and telephone support.

Now, following a review and a public consultation in the autumn, the recommendations to cabinet are that the centres be reopened as hubs, with the services expanding and introducing outreach services into local communities.

This, says the report to cabinet, would help ensure that residents across Northern Devon and Torridge are able to access the services as easily as those who live in the communities in which the hubs are based.

An implementation plan for redesign of the service should be drawn up for each centre, and Link Centre staff, service users, local Councillors, the local communities, and the voluntary sector should work together to develop these outreach services, which could be held in community facilities across the area.

Under the recommendations, the existing Barnstaple, Bideford, and Ilfracombe Link Centre buildings will be reopened when it is safe to do so under Covid-19 guidelines, and the Holsworthy service and its once-weekly morning drop-in session relocated to a different building in the town.

Councillor James McInnes, Devon County Council’s Cabinet Member for Adult Social Care & Health Services, said:

“We have listened to what service users and the community have told us and we have come up with these recommendations which strike the right balance between maintaining the existing services in all four towns and expanding the service, so that more people are able to access them easily.
“Previously there were four centres in a large area. This meant that these services could only really be easily accessed by those who live in, or can travel to, Holsworthy, Barnstaple, Bideford, or Ilfracombe on set days.
“We also understand the importance of the drop-in service and a plan will now be developed to incorporate both aspects, the drop in and outreach elements of the service.
“We think good mental health support should be convenient and accessible to everyone who needs it when they need it. I’m delighted to say that these recommendations propose just that.”

The Council’s Cabinet meet on Wednesday December 8, at 10.30am and will discuss the proposal.