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A woman who saw the second plane hit the Twin Towers in New York City in 2001 turned her traumatic experience into a passion for helping the mental health of others, which prompted her to become a project coordinator for the Night Light Cafe service in Lincoln.

Stacey Marriott was on the roof of a building a few miles from the World Trade Center and watched the tragic events unfold. It sparked trauma and is something that has stuck with her forever, especially on 9/11 birthdays, but she is determined to help others find hope for the future.

Night Light Cafe was born out of conversations within the Health and Wellness sub-group of the Greater Lincoln Active Faith Network, now called Transform Lincoln. Stacey had discovered the concept being used in Leeds and was working to see if something similar could be done in Lincoln.

Inside the Night Light Cafe at Bridge Central on Portland Street. | Photo: Steve Smailes for The Lincolnite

Stacey (left) explained how she turned her traumatic experience into a passion for helping others. | Photo: Steve Smailes for The Lincolnite

the Night coffee service launched at 10 locations in Lincoln as of March 2020, with the most recent opening at St Giles Methodist Church on Addison Drive in February this year.

The service exists to provide a listening ear and evening companionship to people experiencing a mental health crisis, as well as serving hot and cold drinks and other refreshments.

It is run by the ACTS Trust in partnership with the local churches, which provide the venue, and is funded by the NHS England, the King’s Fund.

The latest figures show that since launching the service, it has supported 323 people through its network. He received 1,019 phone calls and registered 715 participations in 10 cafes. There were also 224 diversions, where people used the service instead of going to A&E or other crisis services.

Provide people with a safe place to go and someone by their side to help them with their mental health issues. | Photo: Steve Smailes for The Lincolnite

A quiet room at the Night Light Cafe on Portland Street. | Photo: Steve Smailes for The Lincolnite

The Night Light Cafe service has more than 100 volunteers in its network. They are not mental health professionals, but receive training in mental health first aid and suicide prevention. Eighteen psychology students from Bishop Grosseteste University are currently doing internships with the service.

Anyone wishing to use the service is advised to book in advance, but may simply show up if this is the only option. To book, people can call 0300 011 1200 or send a message to the service via Facebook or Instagram.

The cafes are open from 4 p.m. to midnight Monday to Friday and from 8 p.m. to midnight on weekends, according to the hours below:

The schedule of 10 Night Light Cafe locations in Lincoln.

Stacey and Sian were sitting inside the Night Light Cafe on Portland Street in Lincoln. | Photo: Steve Smailes for The LIncolnite

Stacey, 40, said Lincolnite: “I went from desperation and not wanting to be alive to a happy and fulfilled life. I am passionate about helping others find hope for the future.

“From my own experience with mental health issues, it was clear that there was a need (Night Light Cafe Service). Often times when people are struggling outside of working hours and their GP is closed, they may not know where to go, which gives them a safe place and someone by their side.

“I was in New York and saw 9/11 unfold and it caused me a lot of trauma and caused a blackout a year later. In 2002, I was not doing very well, but my family and friends helped me through it.

“It made me want to help people who may not have that support network. We have had to deal with the numbers at the cafe more due to COVID, but we have received a lot of phone calls from people who feel isolated and their anxiety is higher. “

The service exists to provide a listening ear and evening companionship to people experiencing a mental health crisis. | Photo: Steve Smailes for The Lincolnite

Church pastor Sian Wade believes the role of the church in the project and helping with mental health is huge. | Photo: Steve Smailes for The Lincolnite

The cafes are all housed in religious buildings or belonging to Lincoln churches. Sian Wade, a church pastor who oversees the church buildings on Portland Street and Newark Road, said, “The role of the church is huge. The church is designed to be a light in a dark place, spiritually and emotionally, so it makes sense that she was involved.

Bridge Central on Portland Street is one of 10 locations in Lincoln with Night Light Cafe service. | Photo: Steve Smailes for The Lincolnite

The Night Light Cafe service hopes to get more funding next year to enable it to hire more volunteers and add more cafes to the network.

The service also works with various authorities, including Lincolnshire Police, Lincoln City Council and Lincolnshire County Council, as well as the Peter Hodgkinson Center Ambulance Service and Crisis Team.

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