PRESS RELEASE: Guildford Safe Haven Renovation

PRESS RELEASE: Guildford Safe Haven Renovation

Mental health charity Oakleaf’s Safe Haven space in Guildford sees huge transformation


We are thrilled to announce that the Safe Haven in Guildford has undergone a remarkable transformation, thanks to the dedicated efforts of volunteers and the generous support of WSP, National Highways and Asda Foundation. The refurbishment project, which took place in June and July 2023, represents a significant milestone in our mission to create a safe and supportive haven for individuals facing mental health challenges.

The Guildford Safe Haven, located within the premises of Oakleaf Enterprise, serves as a vital evening drop-in service – a collaborative effort between Oakleaf, Catalyst (another local charity) and the NHS. This free service operates every evening, 365 days a year, from 6pm – 11pm, providing a lifeline for individuals experiencing mental health crises or emotional distress. During the day, the space also plays host to wellbeing activities, non-confidential one-to-one conversations, social meals, and meetings for both clients and staff at Oakleaf.

“Oakleaf has saved my life. Attending has helped me feel positive about actually having a future and pulled me back from the edge many times.” – Oakleaf client

Over the years, the space had become tired and lacked the inviting atmosphere it deserved. The environment fell short of matching the warmth and compassion of the staff who work there. However, significant changes have taken place over the last few weeks and the Safe Haven now radiates a renewed energy and warmth, boasting an inviting atmosphere that befits its purpose.

Volunteers successfully decluttered, redecorated and reorganised the space, bringing about a remarkable transformation. They meticulously cleaned every corner, carefully arranged new furniture and applied fresh coats of paint, breathing new life into the environment. They implemented thoughtful design changes including the removal of the dark room dividers, which now allows for a much brighter and more open environment, further aided by new donated light fixings. The outdoor area has also been transformed into a functional and welcoming space, offering additional opportunities for relaxation and support.

As a result, the Safe Haven is now fully operational and ready to provide its essential services to individuals seeking crucial out-of-hours support.

“The Safe Haven is about having an open, warm, and welcoming environment that people feel safe to come into. We are very proud to have a re-visit rate of 70% that shows the impact this service has, and it is gives instant access to mental health professionals, in a time of crisis.”

– Tommy Coppinger, Out of Hours Service Manager at Oakleaf

Recognising the profound impact of purpose-built environments on mental health and wellbeing, we firmly believe that this revitalised space will represent a much more comfortable and welcoming refuge for hundreds of individuals who are struggling with their mental health in the Surrey community.

“Delivering on Social Value is an important part of what we do at National Highways. As part of our Social Value initiative, individuals in the organisation can commit up to 3 days a year for volunteering. Loneliness can impact anyone at any time in any community, and the work of voluntary organisations to reduce isolation and loneliness has been in higher demand since the pandemic. That’s why we are thrilled to have joined forces with WSP to refurbish Guildford’s Oakleaf charity ‘Safe Haven’. A local facility that provides an all year-round location close to both the town centre and the university for those with mental health issues.”

– Martyn Gannicott, Commercial Services Director at National Highways

Mike D’Alton, Strategic Growth Director at WSP, said: “WSP has a long-standing relationship with Oakleaf in Guildford and is proud to support its vital work through the WSP Foundation. Oakleaf plays a valuable role in our local community by providing bespoke mental health support, and also hosts seminars with WSP to increase our people’s awareness of mental health. We’re pleased to deepen our relationship with Oakleaf through the three-day volunteering activity refurbishing its Adult “Safe Haven” Drop-In Centre, connecting with key industry partners such as National Highways to provide a space more suitable to the needs of the community.”

With an annual attendance of over 1,800 individuals, the Guildford Safe Haven service plays a pivotal role within the local community. Therefore, we want to extend our heartfelt gratitude for the support that has been offered to this project. The Safe Haven now embodies its name, offering a sanctuary for mental health support that provides solace, empowerment and a renewed sense of hope to all who come through its doors.

Notes to Editors:

Contact details:

Jen Clay – Head of Fundraising and Engagement, Oakleaf

01483 303649

About: Oakleaf

Oakleaf provides support for clients aged 16-67 through a wide range of wellbeing activities and support groups, work-related training and employment guidance as well as counselling and on-to-one emotional support. The charity also acts as a social enterprise, selling services to the public – the income of which is fed straight back to the charity. Their mission is to foster confidence and reduce social isolation by actively training, engaging and supporting individuals with mental ill-health to empower them to participate as active members of society.

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About: WSP

WSP is one of the world’s leading engineering professional services consultancy, transforming people’s lives by transforming places – structures, spaces and networks – to make life smarter, fairer and more sustainable.

About: National Highways

National Highways is a government-owned company charged with operating, maintaining and improving motorways and major A roads in England. It also sets highways standards used by all four UK administrations, through the Design Manual for Roads and Bridges.


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