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The First Stop Service is a night time urgent care, health and wellbeing service. It operates every Friday and Saturday night from 9:00pm to 3:30am out of St Mary’s Church in Reading town centre.
Paramedics from South Central Ambulance Service provide urgent medical care services alongside volunteers providing first aid and support to those who need it. Security is provided by Thames Valley Police. The multi-agency project has become an intrinsic element in the town centre keeping people safe, away from A&E and helps tackle the negative effects of excessive drinking and associated medical needs.
The primary objective of the service is to make sure people enjoy their night out in Reading and to help those whose night has not gone to plan. This in turn provides outcomes by both reducing incidents of crime and disorder and admissions to A&E departments and ambulance call outs. The church had been operating a “sanctuary” on weekend nights since 2016 which provided shelter and hot drinks to those in need. The co-location of the First Stop Service and volunteer services has created a multi-agency safe hub delivering cross service support.
A partnership group lead on the project. The Partnership comprises representatives from NHS Berkshire West CCGs, Reading Council, Thames Valley Police, South Central Ambulance Service and Reading Minster Church.