Mental health nurses were among a group of practitioners who met with more than 700 local residents at Notting Hill Carnival in London last weekend, to offer support to those affected by the Grenfell Tower disaster.
The group of more than 70 healthcare professionals, all from Central and North West London NHS Foundation Trust, travelled the route of the parade to engage with the community, while a carnival float advertised pop-up clinics.
“I’m really proud of the team – they pounded the streets and saw hundreds of people throughout carnival”
Nurses, consultants and occupational therapists advertised the trust’s services by wearing bright orange T-shirts, which included the message “Health and Wellbeing Support #grenfellNHS”. Staff also wore a green wristband as a sign of solidarity with local residents.
They spoke with 717 people in total during the event, which takes place every year on the August bank holiday in the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea, the same area of London that the Grenfell Tower fire occurred.
A spokesman for the trust said the organisation had targeted Notting Hill Carnival due to its close proximity to the tower and local community.
“It was safe to assume we would come across people affected by Grenfell, though we didn’t need to onward refer anyone,” he said.
“It was …about ensuring people in the community knew how to access our services”
Central and North West London NHS FT spokesman
“We weren’t specifically offering mental health support – though were prepared to offer it to any who requested help. It was more about ensuring people in the community knew how to access our services,” he told Nursing Times.
The team, which also included a health visitor, psychotherapist and physiotherapist, handed out information about the trust’s services to those affected by the fire, which broke out on 14 June and is thought to have killed at least around 80 people.
“Our staff were brilliant in their enthusiasm and sensitivity,” said trust chief executive Claire Murdoch, referring to the organisation’s work at the carnival.
“I’m really proud of the team – they pounded the streets and saw hundreds of people throughout carnival,” she added.
The team also provided cards and stress balls to promote the trust’s “single point of access” service – a mental health triage service that people can call if they are experiencing a mental health crisis.
The service, which was set up in 2015, offers mental health information and routine, urgent and emergency referrals. The trust also runs regular pop-up clinics and mental health training sessions, offering residents training for emotional wellbeing.
Last month, Nursing Times spoke to Ian Sorzano, acting senior nurse for the trust’s North Kensington community mental health team, who helped Grenfell residents and the local community in the immediate aftermath of the fire and also in the longer term since the disaster.