THE FIRST Stop service will be available on New Year’s Eve offering a safe-haven for people who find themselves in need of help.
The town centre medical facility which is located within Reading Minster, St Mary’s Butts, will be open from 9pm to 3am to help ensure partygoers get a good start to the New Year on Monday 31st December.
The FIRST Stop will also be open on the Friday and Saturday every weekend in December and before Christmas (21st and 22nd December), to support Christmas revellers – although it will not be open on Christmas Eve, which falls on a Monday evening this year.
The FIRST Stop, which is contracted by Reading Borough Council, is vitally supported by its partner organisations, including Thames Valley Police, South Central Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust (SCAS), Reading Minster, Reading Street Pastors, the Clinical Commissioning Groups in Reading and Reading BID.
The FIRST Stop team of trained volunteers, medical staff and first aiders, work with street pastors, volunteers from the Minster, venue doormen, the police, SCAS and A&E to ensure that any issues can be quickly assessed and dealt with.
Reading’s Lead Member for Neighbourhoods, Cllr Sophia James, said: “I am continually impressed with the hard work and commitment of the FIRST Stop partners and volunteers.
“Don’t forget the FIRST Stop is the first port of call for anyone who needs help – be it for medical advice on a minor injury, or just a need for reassurance and a quiet place to rest. We want everyone to have a safe and happy New Year’s Eve celebrating – and if things take an unexpected turn for the worse, the FIRST Stop can offer support.
“This service has helped to keep people safe and well for five years now and is an asset to Reading’s night time economy. I wish everyone a safe and happy New Year!”
Penny Meadley, Specialist Paramedic Manager, SCAS, added: “By working effectively with our partners and having a SCAS clinician on site every Friday and Saturday night, we can quickly and effectively treat those who attend with medical complaints, minor injuries and those affected by excess consumption of alcohol. It is making a significant contribution to reducing the pressure on A&E and the ambulance service.”
Revd Stephen Pullin, the Vicar at the Minster, said: “The Minster is open to anyone who has a medical need, or who just needs to a quiet, safe space, or a cup of coffee, or someone to listen.”
A team provide a wide range of assistance such as treating injuries from falls, wound assessment and tending cuts. They also help with illnesses or offer a safe place to rest to anyone who is emotionally distressed.
Since its launch in December 2013, figures reveal that the FIRST Stop has had a major positive impact on wellbeing in the town.
No two shifts on the FIRST Stop are the same, and volunteering provides the opportunity to work with the emergency services and to develop new skills. For more details on volunteering, contact firstname.lastname@example.org or call 07909228609.
FIRST Stop stands for First Aid; Information; Refuge; Safety; Treatment.
The FIRST Stop is designed to help ease the burden on under-pressure A&E departments which are regularly dealing with extremely high levels of demand. Out of the 264 patients seen and treated between January and October this year, 176 of them would have otherwise gone to A&E. Had these patients called out ambulances to be treated or gone to A&E it would have cost the NHS around £83,600 (this figure does not include cases where the patient may have needed to be admitted to an observation ward – which is often the case for intoxicated patients. Admitting to an observation ward carries costs of around £2,000 each time.).