‘Lean on Me’

Monday 15th December 2014 – 2.30pm – Chris Kowalik.

A new unit opens in Hereford this month to help people on a night-out recover from the excesses of alcohol and help reduce the pressure on the ambulance service, A&E and police.

Run by the city’s volunteer Street Pastors, the former youth court in Gaol Street will be an alternative to going to hospital or a police cell when all someone needs is to be able to sober-up safely.

Called “Emelia’s” after Emelia Venn, sister of the Rev. John Venn both of whom devoted themselves to helping the city’s poor, it features an assessment area, recovery space and supervised sleep-off room.

‘Emelia’s’ is part of a wider project called ‘Lean on Me’ which involves Street Pastors patrolling the city to help anyone they find to be in difficulty.

Cliff Medlicott, West Midlands Ambulance Service Community Response Manager said: “This unit will be the first of its kind. The pastors have developed an excellent facility for a maximum of 12 people who just need to get some rest or sleep it off before going home. It will be a great help to the ambulance service, freeing us up to get to genuine life-threatening emergencies quicker.”

Jason Borlase, Project Leader from Hereford Street Pastors said: “’Teams drawn from 30 trained volunteers will run ‘Emelia’s’ from 10pm until 4am on Saturday nights. Anyone who ends up in difficulty through excessive drinking will be referred to the unit for the special care we will offer. The unit will have direct links with our patrols, the door staff of bars and clubs as well as the ambulance service and police. In addition to providing better care for people in Hereford’s night time economy, the project will allow the ambulance service, A&E teams and police to focus on those who really need their help and get to them quicker. Improving response times will make a real difference for people in serious and sometimes life-threatening situations.”

Barrie Sheldon, the Deputy Police and Crime Commissioner for West Mercia, said: “The Police and Crime Commissioner is delighted to support this groundbreaking initiative in Hereford city centre. It will certainly ease some of the pressures on both police and health services on busy Friday and Saturday nights, but just as important, it will provide the right care and assistance for anyone who misuses alcohol, for whatever reason. In addition to providing that care there is also a real opportunity to help some people who may need it to address any drink related problems. The street pastors are providing a real contribution to community safety in Herefordshire and should be commended for their work.”

The unit is due to open on the night of Saturday 20th December.
Lean on Me 2  Lean on Me 1

Pictured left-to-right alongside two “sleep-off” mats: Jason Borlais, Steve Sully, Abi Bramble, Tracey Ann Morgan, Musole Lenaud.

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