crisis cafe mural.jpgChester residents and visitors will notice a big splash of colour with the launch of a new community mural at Café 71 in, Chester.

Located at 71-77 St Anne Street, Café 71 is home to the mental health crisis and creative recovery project, run by Spider Project in partnership with Cheshire and Wirral Partnership NHS Foundation Trust (CWP).

The vision for the mural came from Cheshire Police community support officer, Helen Hewitt, who facilitated design sessions with Cafe71 members, involving them in every element of design, right through to the final spray painting.

Helen explains: “By producing the mural its aim was to improve the aesthetics of the building and the area for local residents - while boosting mental health for volunteers through community interaction and learning new skills.  Funding was successfully acquired through the Community Policing Fund.

“I am absolutely delighted with the results - which was a huge team effort by local artist Mark and the volunteers in this project. An incredible amount of time was put into the mural from the design process and practice sessions through to the actual production. The result is a very bright addition to Café 71, visitors, and residents alike.”

Local artist, Mark Funge, was also on hand to coach members in using spray paints, enabling them to share in the painting process and bring the final design together.

Andrew Herbert, Cafe71 manager, said: “The mural’s theme of flowers focusses members’ interest in nature and the impact of the new Wildlife Connections Trail on wellbeing. The trail runs all the way from Chester Zoo’s nature reserve, through the Countess of Chester Country Park, then down to City Forest Garden, also known as ‘Supertrees’.

“At Cafe71, we love to see the power of creativity and community to enable recovery. We have been delighted to see people working together to complete such an impressive public art project.”

Sean Boyle, CWP clinical director for the First Response Service, said: “Crisis cafes form a vital part of improving peoples’ experience of urgent mental health care as non-clinical, warm and welcoming, safe spaces for people seeking support whilst in mental health distress. They are also a way for people to get help from trained staff and peers on coping with or preventing future mental health crisis’.

“Since Café 71 opened in early 2020 it has gone from strength to strength, despite the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic. Research shows peer support can improve people’s wellbeing by building larger support networks, and better self-esteem, confidence and social skills. It’s great to see members create such an eye-catching design and shining a light on the important role of Café 71 in the community.”

Café 71 is open 10am-midnight, 365 days a year for people struggling with emotional and psychological distress and considering themselves to be in a self-defined crisis. Alternatively, CWP’s urgent mental health helpline is open 24 hours, 7 days a week and is open to people of all ages – including children and young people. Please call 0800 145 6485 and dedicated local staff will support you to access the help you need.