Learn about our innovative Safe Space service that we developed and operated between 2017 and 2020 for vulnerable young people in Hastings.

The Challenge

The local NHS identified the need to reduce alcohol-related harm amongst young people in Hastings. In particular, they wanted to help young people who were sustaining non-life threatening alcohol-related injuries such as falls and sprains, as well as intoxication. They also noted that some young people were drinking alcohol to the point where they were becoming vulnerable to robbery and assault.

What We Did

Research

We spoke with young people in Hastings to understand their attitudes to alcohol-related harm. They told us that they were too young to be concerned about the long-term damage caused by alcohol but did worry about the risks of being assaulted or robbed while intoxicated.

Co-design

We worked with young people and other stakeholders involved in the night-time economy, such as the Street Pastors and police, to develop a service that would support young people while on a night out in Hastings. We also spoke to providers of similar services around the UK.

Pre-testing

In early 2017 we operated a pilot Saturday night Safe Space in Hastings. Operating out of a town centre cafe, we offered professional first aid services, including help for those who were intoxicated, along with support from trained volunteers to anyone needing it.

What Our Clients Say

  • "You looked after my friend Josh on New Year's Eve when he was really sick. I was really impressed by the Safe Space and the care he received."

    James

    Student, 20 years old

What We Achieved

The pilot was deemed by the NHS to be a success and in September 2017, following a competitive tendering process, the NSMC was selected to develop and operate a permanent Saturday evening Safe Space service in central Hastings. Following further co-creation wth young people, and input from stakeholders, this service went live in December 2017.

Hastings Safe Space operated on Saturday evenings out of a cafe in central Hastings. The service had three main objectives:

  • Reduce the number of minor alcohol-related injuries.
  • Reduce the demand for inappropriate A&E visits and emergency service call-outs.
  • Provide a refuge for any vulnerable young person needing assistance.

Safe Space quickly became part of the night-time economy in Hastings. Street Pastors and bar door staff refered anyone needing first aid to us, while our volunteer street patrols become a fixture. Trained volunteers regularly signposed young people to other support services in the town to help meet challenges such as mental health issues and homelessness. 

An evaluation of the project in mid-2019 showed that over the preceding 19 months, the service had:

  • Been used by around 1,200 people, including over 600 who received significant support for issues such as intoxication, injuries or seeking refuge from danger. 
  • Avoided around 150 ambulance call-outs and a further 170 A&E visits.
  • Signposted around 140 young people to other support services in the town.

The service was a finalist in the Health Service Journal Awards in 2018 but closed in March 2020 when the current funding was withdrawn.