Surrey’s hotline for mental health

Ahead of Helpline Awareness Day (Friday, 23 February), Surrey and Borders Partnership NHS Foundation Trust and Surrey County Council are highlighting a local 24-hour NHS mental health crisis helpline that supports almost 50,000 people each year.  

The Mental Health Crisis Helpline, run by Surrey and Borders Partnership, is open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Since it started in 2010 it has helped around 600,000 people.  

It is staffed by trained professionals who are ready to listen and offer advice, support and signpost to a range of community services. 

A mental health crisis is when you feel at breaking point, and you need urgent help. You might be: 

  • Feeling extremely anxious and having panic attacks or flashbacks 
  • Feeling suicidal, or self-harming 
  • Having an episode of hypomania or mania, (feeling very high) or psychosis (maybe hearing voices, or feeling very paranoid) 
  • Other behaviour that feels out of control and is likely to endanger yourself or others

As well as the Mental Health Crisis Helpline, Surrey and Borders Partnership also provides five Safe Havens across Surrey which provide out-of-hours help and support to adults who are experiencing a mental health crisis or emotional distress. 

These Safe Havens are in Aldershot, Epsom, Guildford, Redhill and Woking and are open evenings, weekends and bank holidays. Each one is staffed by a mental health practitioner from Surrey and Borders Partnership and two trained Safe Haven workers.  

Mark Nuti, Surrey County Council’s Cabinet Member for Health said: “We are committed to breaking the silence surrounding mental health and providing a safe, confidential and non-judgmental way for people in Surrey to seek help. 

We believe that mental health support should be available to everyone. No one should have to suffer in silence – the Mental Health Crisis Helpline is here for anyone who needs it.

There is help out there, whether it’s through the Mental Health Crisis Helpline or one of the Safe Havens. Let’s break the silence and start the journey towards better mental health together.” 

Emily Hackett, Mental Health Crisis Line Service Manager said: “If you are experiencing a mental health crisis or emotional distress or if you have concerns regarding someone that you care for, please call us. Our dedicated crisis call handlers are on hand to support you 24 hours a day 7 days a week.” 

If you or someone you know is struggling with their mental health, don’t hesitate to call the Mental Health Crisis Helpline on 0800 915 4644.  

Image – illustration only – Carl von Essen CC BY-SA 4.0

Maintaining business standards in Surrey

Trader on ladder

Residents are encouraged to do their research and always look for reputable and recommended tradespeople before having any work done on their property. 

Buckinghamshire and Surrey Trading Standards is pleased to announce a partnership with United Knowledge Ltd to provide its ‘Trading Standards Approved’, trader’s scheme. 

The collaboration marks a significant milestone in the efforts to enhance consumer protection, promote fair trading practices, and ensure businesses in both counties adhere to the highest standards of excellence. It will also enable trading standards to support residents who are scammed or targeted by rogue traders by supplying a safer choice. 

UKTSA offers a list of local businesses who have each given a commitment to trading fairly.  

The scheme aims to support both local businesses and consumers, providing honest traders with a way to be identified and therefore stand out from the crowd.  

From February 2024, residents will be able to find a Trading Standards Approved trader, introducing an added sense of confidence with the reputable accreditation.  

The scheme is able to include a diverse range of trades and businesses, whether consumers are in search of a trustworthy plumber, pest controller, landscaper, electrician, or any other contractor.  

The partnership between Buckinghamshire and Surrey Trading Standards and UKTSA is aimed at creating a more transparent and trustworthy marketplace for businesses and consumers. Through the implementation of rigorous standards, and continuous monitoring, both counties will be able to identify and address any potential issues or breaches of trading regulations promptly. 

Councillor Kevin Deanus, Cabinet Member for Fire and Rescue and Resilience at Surrey County Council said: “Our Trading Standards team is committed to protecting consumers and supporting legitimate business in Surrey. Honest businesses are also victims of rogue traders when their trade is linked to dishonest practices and their reputations tarnished. This collaboration will strengthen our ability to protect consumers and support businesses in our counties. Together, we can ensure fair and ethical trading practices, enhance consumer confidence, and contribute to the growth and prosperity of our local economies.” 

Paula Hines from United Knowledge Ltd said: “We are pleased to welcome our new partners on-board. We are looking forward to working with Buckinghamshire Council & Surrey County Council and the local business communities to make this scheme a success.”  

Steve Ruddy Head of Trading Standards at Buckinghamshire and Surrey Trading Standards said: “Schemes such as this offer additional protection to residents as well as clear procedures for resolving problems, which benefits both residents and businesses. Trading Standards always advises residents to get a range of quotes from reputable traders through trustworthy sources such as the new Trading Standards Approved trader’s scheme. The scheme gives people access to a list of reliable traders that have been vetted and approved by to ensure that they operate in a legal, honest and fair way.”  

Residents who have experienced problems with tradespeople or companies to report it to the Citizens Advice consumer helpline. The helpline takes all enquiries on behalf of Trading Standards across England and Wales and will pass your report to the relevant Trading Standards team. 

Business operators can visit the Trading Standards Approved website to find out more about the registration process and joining fees. 

Consumers can search the register HERE on the UKTSA website

Epsom centre brings hope to youth who need support

Youth at study

With one of three Surrey centres based in Epsom the multi-agency Hope Service gets a glowing Ofsted report. Published last month the report finds that the Hope Service, provided by Surrey County Council and Surrey and Borders Partnership NHS Trust, ‘continues to be an outstanding school’ following its previous ‘Outstanding’ inspection outcome in 2018. 

The Hope Service, which is registered as a Pupil Referral Unit, offers a ‘Day Programme’ with a curriculum comprising education, therapies and activities. This is part of the broader multi-agency Hope Service offer in Surrey which supports young people age 11-18 who are experiencing complex mental health, emotional, social and behavioural challenges which cannot be met by one agency alone. The Hope Service works with the young person, their family and wider network to offer support to try and prevent placement breakdown or the need for a psychiatric hospital admission. 

In a glowing report, Ofsted inspectors note that ‘pupils flourish at this inspirational school’ due to the ‘nurturing relationships they form with staff as soon as they join’. Inspectors also found that young people receive ‘highly specialist support, in every aspect of learning and development’ helping them to grow in confidence and in turn ‘realise their full potential and aspire to a bright future when they leave school’. 

The report also highlights that ‘staff take careful steps to construct an ambitious curriculum for every pupil’, with pupil voice central to this and pupils’ views captured ‘at each stage when planning individual curriculum programmes’.  

Inspectors found that the school has a ‘palpable air of serenity’, empowering individuals to have a ‘clear sense of self-identity and autonomy’ and readying them for adulthood. The school also offers a significant amount of expert advice and support to the wider community via their outreach work and parent and carer support and information sessions, with parents and carers crediting the school for ‘giving their child hope for a positive and healthy future’. 

Clare Curran, Cabinet Member for Children, Families and Lifelong Learning, said; 

“I’m thrilled to see that this incredible school continues to be recognised as Outstanding by Ofsted. One of the priorities in the Surrey Health and Wellbeing Strategy is to support children and young people with their mental health, including focusing on access to early, appropriate support to prevent further escalation of need, and supporting the emotional wellbeing of parents and care givers. 

“The outcomes the Hope Service achieves for Surrey children are remarkable, with staff being able to provide the support young people need to meet their emotional and mental health needs, while at the same time providing a top quality education delivered with high levels of personalisation, kindness and belief in each young person. 

“Young people and their families come into contact with this service at a challenging time in their lives, and its vital that we and partners are able to provide a high quality service upon which they can rely.” 

The full inspection report can be found on the Ofsted website: 50234890 (ofsted.gov.uk)

You can read more about the Hope Service, including the school offer, assessment and out of hours ‘Extended Hope’ crisis service, and free fortnightly online parent and carer support sessions on a range of topics on the Hope Service website. 

Image: cc Bruce Matsunaga. Licence details

Surrey team addicted to changing futures

Surrey Count's bridge team

A former aircraft engineer has spoken out about how his alcohol addiction threatened to wreck his life.

Steve Saunders, 66, from Pyrford, Woking says that what started as social drinking turned into an all-consuming addiction, which saw both his marriage and career end.

Now he is using his experience to help others and to send out a clear message, that there is always support in Surrey for those with a drug or alcohol addiction.

Steve works with Surrey County Council’s Changing Futures programme on their Bridge the Gap scheme which supports people facing a range of issues including alcohol and drug addiction, domestic abuse and mental health challenges.

Like most other people I started drinking in my late teens and 20s socially but it was in my 50s when it started to become a big problem,” said Steve, who is a proud father of two grown-up sons.

I now know that I have an addictive personality and that affects how I see alcohol, and one drink is never enough. My behaviour changed and I was awful to those around me – it ended up ruining my second marriage and saw me retire from my job as an aircraft engineer aged just 53-years-old.

At my worst I was drinking a bottle of spirits a day, often in secret. You kid yourself that people don’t know what’s going on, but it was out of control. I kept losing my driving licence and I was lucky not to be in prison. When I left my job I nearly drank myself to death.”

The turning point for Steve was when he decided to be honest with his doctor about his drinking, and he went into rehabilitation.

Going through rehabilitation changed everything,” said Steve. “I decided I wanted to help others who are facing similar problems and so I became involved in Bridge the Gap to offer my insights into the systems that support people and also to run SMART recovery meetings which are both face-to-face and online.

A huge range of people access the service – business owners, housewives and professional people such as doctors and teachers. All of them have one thing in common – they are looking for help, and we make sure they receive it.

Until now Bridge the Gap has been run as a pilot scheme by Surrey County Council, funded by the Department of Levelling Up, Housing and Communities and the National Lottery – but now a fundraising drive is being launched to raise the £1.4 million which will be needed for it to continue supporting vulnerable people in Surrey.

Eleven local charities are backing Bridge the Gap and these are Catalyst, Guildford Action, The Hope Hub, Oakleaf, Richmond Fellowship, Rentstart, Your Sanctuary, North Surrey Domestic Abuse Service, South West Surrey Domestic Abuse Outreach Service, East Surrey Domestic Abuse Services and Surrey Domestic Abuse Partnership.

Steve said: “As well as helping others I also get something from the SMART meetings because it reminds me to be grateful for where I am. Anyone facing a drug or alcohol problem needs to know that there is help out there, and we will support them in turning their life around.”

Keely Glithero , service manager at Catalyst, said Steve’s input into the Bridge the Gap programme is invaluable.

Keely said: “Steve’s rich lived and learned experience in addiction brings a valuable perspective and contribution to how we deliver services. I am truly inspired by his relentless energy for supporting people, and I’m so glad to support and work alongside Steve as a volunteer for Catalyst in the Changing Futures programme.”

A conference is taking place in Surrey later this month when people, like Steve, will use their lived experience to support others, challenge prejudice and empower themselves. The Power of Lived Experience event takes place on Wednesday, January 31 from 10am to 4pm at Dorking Halls. For more information and to reserve your place contact colette.lane@sabp.nhs.uk

Further information:

Changing Futures Bridge the Gap programme Changing Futures – Bridge the Gap | Healthy Surrey

Drug and alcohol support in Surrey – Drugs and alcohol | Healthy Surrey

Improving Surrey’s rights of way


Surrey County Council is seeking the views of residents on the county’s Rights of Way to help drive improvements.

The county council is responsible for around 2,164 miles (3,482 km) of paths known as ‘public rights of way’ in both the countryside and urban areas. Accessing these paths is important for residents to enjoy and explore, travel to work or school and for health and wellbeing.

A public right of way is a path that anyone, by law, has the right to use. There are four types:

  • Footpaths for walking, mobility scooters or powered wheelchairs
  • Bridleways for walking, horse riding, cycling, mobility scooters or powered wheelchairs
  • Restricted byways for walking, horse riding, cycling, mobility scooters or powered wheelchairs and horse-drawn carriages
  • Byways for all modes including motorised vehicles.

Marisa Heath, Surrey County Council Cabinet Member for Environment said: “This is a fantastic opportunity for residents to share their views and really shape how we manage and improve our rights of way both in rural and urban areas. Exploring the countryside and being close to nature is so important for our health and wellbeing and also to understand the benefits of the natural environment we are doing our upmost to protect, so we want to support everyone by improving our networks.”

Residents are invited to feedback their views on Surrey’s Rights of Way network, sharing how they use them, their importance, what if anything may prevent residents from using them and how the council can support their needs. All views will help inform the new Rights of Way Improvement Plan which will be produced at the end of 2024.

The survey is open until 10 March 2024 and can be accessed on the Surrey Says website.

Image: newlandscorner jon hawkins surrey-hills-photography

Surrey chief moves on after 6 years

Joanna Killian

Surrey County Council Chief Executive Joanna Killian is to leave the council in March to take up the role of Chief Executive of the Local Government Association (LGA).

Joanna has been at Surrey for six years and has overseen dramatic transformation of the organisation, in the face of unprecedented challenges.

She will leave Surrey in a robust financial position, and with improved inspection ratings and peer reviews in almost all services.

Tim Oliver, Leader of Surrey County Council, said: Joanna’s approachable and caring nature, coupled with fierce ambition and sharp knowledge has guided this council through difficult change, tough choices, an unstable economic and political climate, as well as the small matter of a global pandemic – all challenges in which this council has come to the fore, and delivered better outcomes for the residents of Surrey.

She has kept us true to our ambition that no one in Surrey should be left behind, and her leadership has had a hugely positive impact on this county as a place, and its people.”

Joanna Killian said: “While I’m hugely excited and honoured to be taking up the Chief Executive role at the Local Government Association, it is with a heavy heart that I’m saying goodbye to Surrey.

Surrey is a wonderful county, full of innovation and ambition, and the County Council reflects that, with a great workforce all dedicated to improving people’s lives.

Local government plays a vital role in communities up and down the UK, making a real difference every single day. It’s a sector I feel very privileged to work in, and I’m glad to be continuing that journey with the LGA, acting as a strong voice for councils with some big challenges ahead.”

Joanna will leave Surrey County Council on March 6th. Succession arrangements will be announced in due course. The Local Government Association (LGA) is the national voice of local government. Representing 315 councils across England and working with councils in Wales, it works to promote local government, supports councils to improve and helps the sector make a difference to people, places and the planet.

Related reports:

County CEO’s pay rise triggering strikes?

Magic Table for Adults with Dementia 

Magic table for dementia games

Residents and staff at Banstead Library celebrated the launch of the award-winning innovation from the Netherlands. The Tovertafel (Dutch for “magic table”), is a ceiling mounted projector that projects light games onto a standard table surface. These games are interactive, immersive games that can be played sitting down by a group of people, they encourage social contact, movement and are both relaxing and fun! 

Banstead library staff held an open day last week where members of the public got the chance to see the technology in action and try it for themselves. 

The Tovertafel supports people living with dementia as well as adults with learning disabilities. The games and activities respond to hand and arm movements and are designed to stimulate physical activity and social interaction, inspiring those living with dementia to be more active.  

Banstead library was chosen as the location for the Tovertafel as it is part of a working group to help make Banstead a dementia friendly village. The aim is to work with organisations such as Age Concern, care homes, the local Community Link Officer, and Community and Prevention Officer to bring together community workers and organisation who will support and help residents living with dementia, and their carers. 

Surrey County Council Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Customer and Communities Councillor Denise Turner-Stewart said:“We are delighted to introduce the Tovertafel at Banstead library and offer this vital immersive experience to local residents and their families – it’s a fantastic tool that will be not only be a source of joy and entertainment, but which will also make a valuable difference to the lives of residents with dementia in Surrey.  

“The installation of the Tovertafel demonstrates Surrey County Council’s commitment to creating a dementia friendly community where no one is left behind, and showcase our libraries are re-imagined spaces that provide so much more to residents than just books.” 

To find out more about The Tovertafel, or to register your interest, please contact Banstead Library via banstead.library@surreycc.gov.uk.   

Find out more about Dementia support in libraries: https://www.surreycc.gov.uk/libraries/health-and-wellbeing/dementia  

RAAC’s latest victim

Redhill Library

Redhill Library has had to close with immediate effect following further investigations of the known reinforced autoclaved aerated concrete (RAAC) in the building.

The closure of the library will allow more detailed assessments and immediate safety measures to take place to ensure the building is safe to reopen to residents.

We understand the short notice closure of the library will cause disruption for library users and staff. However, as residents would expect, safety is our top priority. 

At present, as the discovery of RAAC in the library building is very recent, further urgent work will need to be undertaken before we can provide any details on mitigation measures or timelines for re-opening.

Further announcements and updates regarding Redhill library will be shared via the Redhill Library web page.

Merstham Library and Reigate Library remain open for residents.

Redhill Library is a Surrey County Council designated warm space, alternative warm spaces in Redhill can be found here

Draft advice may lead to energy savings

A draughty looking house

Surrey County Council has been awarded £745,000 of funding through the Local Energy Advice Demonstrator (LEAD) project, to trial new and innovative approaches to tackle residential energy emissions, help residents save money, conserve energy and make homes more energy efficient.

The LEAD project is funded by the Department for Energy Security and Net Zero and is one of the UK’s largest energy-based collaborations between a local authority and community groups. The project will run until March 2025 and consist of in-person energy advice and a One Stop Shop.

In-person energy advice will support around 3,000 residents by using thermal imaging surveys, providing basic remedial measures for obvious problems like draughts and heat loss, and signposting to support to help reduce their energy use and bills. Community groups will provide energy surveys to eligible residents which includes those who live in houses with Energy Performance Certificate ratings of D or worse, do not have gas central heating, or may have obstacles to improve the energy efficiency of their homes.

The One Stop Shop is an online platform which will help residents to create an energy efficiency and retrofit plan for their home, based on building type, budget, and potential grants and reductions in cost of technology. This will be delivered by Surrey Climate Commission.

If 5% of the homes receiving in-person energy advice embark on a deep retrofit with the assistance of the One Stop Shop and any available funding, it is estimated to make cumulative savings of around £320,000 every year for Surrey residents. Alongside this the project will deliver carbon reductions of 1,280t CO2e every year across the life of the measures installed.

Marisa Heath, Surrey County Council Cabinet Member for Environment said: “This is a fantastic opportunity to build collaboration between the local authority and Surrey’s community groups, working together to upgrade housing stock and reduce residential emissions. The project is a great example of how implementing a net zero strategy can be hugely beneficial to residents, and actually help them to save money, make their homes healthier and more modern, and simultaneously tackle climate change.

Approximately 300,000 homes in Surrey have energy performance ratings of D or worse, meaning that thousands of residents live in homes which are poorly insulated, and liable to damp or mould. Residential energy accounts for over 30% of Surrey’s carbon emissions, a figure which could be significantly lowered through improved energy performance, and reduced energy use.”

For more information about the LEAD project, visit the Surrey County Council website. To check eligibility for a free home energy survey, visit the Zero Carbon Guildford website.

Epsom’s leader welcomes more power for Surrey County Council

Hannah Dalton

Following the Chancellor’s announcement in the Autumn Statement regarding the extension of devolution and further County Deals, Surrey County Council is engaging in discussions with Government on a Level 2 County Deal.

Councillor Hannah Dalton, Chair of Surrey Leaders’ and Leader of Epsom & Ewell Borough Council, said: This is a great opportunity for Surrey, which I warmly welcome. The devolution of important functions to the county will, over time, support all our local Councils in their work of delivering for our residents”.

The proposed County Deal will see the devolution of the following functions to Surrey:

Strategic role in delivering services:

  • Host for Government functions best delivered at a strategic level involving more than one local authority e.g. Local Nature Recovery Strategies
  • Opportunity to pool services at a strategic level,
  • Opportunity to adopt innovative local proposals to deliver action on climate change and the UK’s Net Zero targets,

Supporting local businesses

  • Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) functions including hosting strategic business voice,

Local control of sustainable transport

  • Ability to introduce bus franchising,

Investment spending

  • UK Shared Prosperity Fund planning and delivery at a strategic level (w.e.f. April 2025: District and Borough Councils will individually have control until then)

Giving adults the skills for the labour market

  • Devolution of Adult Education functions and the core Adult Education budget
  • Providing input into Local Skills Improvement plans

Local control of infrastructure decisions

  • Homes England compulsory purchase powers (held concurrently)

The invitation does not involve or require any structural reform of local government or unitarisation of any form, and crucially does not require there to be a Directly Elected Mayor (DEM). The 12 Councils (11 District and Borough Councils and the County Council) retain their sovereignty, which aligns with the partnership work already taking place across the county.

Surrey is well-placed to seize this opportunity and work together to realise the full benefits of a Level 2 devolution deal for our residents, economy, and environment.

In response to the invitation, work will continue with a range of key stakeholders, including the District and Borough Councils, businesses, LEPs, Further Education colleges and Universities, bus companies, health agencies and other key stakeholders to build a consensus around a positive response to the opportunity to secure a devolution deal for Surrey. As part of this, opportunities for potential onward devolution of functions from county council to district/borough councils will also be explored with the District and Borough Councils.

The counties that have been invited include single council areas, that do not have adjacent, neighbouring unitary authorities or ‘island’ unitary authorities within their boundaries. As such they are not in a position to form Mayoral or County Combined Authorities, which are alternative structures for securing County Deals.

The Levelling Up White Paper published in February 2022, set out three levels of devolution (see Annex A below). A ‘Level 2’ County Deal does not require there to be a Directly Elected Person, and excludes certain powers reserved to Mayoral and Combined Authority areas.

Government officials have expressed an interest in learning about any additional functions local areas would wish to see devolved over the longer term, the Government have made it clear that in the interests of making progress, the Level 2 County Deals being offered will only include the powers outlined above.

Councillor Tim Oliver, Leader, Surrey County Council, said: “I have always been clear in my determination that the residents of Surrey will not be left behind, and this devolution deal with government is a step in the right direction in helping us achieve that ambition.

“Local government and our local communities are best placed to deliver what Surrey needs. I’m pleased that the government is recognising that, with hopefully further devolved powers to local government in due course. 

“More control over things like local growth, skills and careers for our young people, lifelong learning provision, the climate agenda, local public transport, and housing, will enable the county council, and partners, to make positive change in Surrey. 

“We look forward to working with the government, and with local partners like district and borough councils, businesses, and education providers, to maximise the opportunities this county deal presents for the benefit of all residents.

“This is a positive step in delivering more power to communities.”