FIRST Stop Ensures a Happy New Year for Town Centre Revellers

FIRST Stop at Reading MinsterTHE 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 now located at a permanent home 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.

The FIRST Stop, which is contracted by Reading Borough Council, is vitally supported by its partner organisations, including Thames Valley Police, 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.

Revd Stephen Pullin, the Vicar at the Minster, said: “We are delighted to welcome and work alongside our partner organisations.  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.”

Reading’s Lead Member for Neighbourhoods, Cllr Liz Terry, said: “The message is for everyone to have a safe and happy New Year’s Eve celebrating, but should you or your friends need it, 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.

“I continue to be impressed with the hard work and commitment of the FIRST Stop partners and volunteers. This service has helped to keep people safe and well for five years now and is an asset to Reading’s night time economy. We are also delighted to now work with Reading Minster to provide the service. 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.”

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.

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.

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 or call 07909228609.

The location of the FIRST Stop is in the centre of the town on Chain Steet, Reading RG1 2HX, opposite the Broad Street Mall:



FIRST Stop stands for First Aid; Information; Refuge; Safety; Treatment.

In the last year, the FIRST Stop medical staff and trained volunteers have helped 284 people with physical injuries and/or emotional distress. A large number of the people treated by SCAS staff would have otherwise required an ambulance call out or a trip to A&E, which equates to a significant saving for the NHS.

Victoria Nickless

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