Night Light Cafe: What is the value of what we do?

The Night Light Cafe recently had the pleasure of working with LORIC (Lincolnshire Open Research and Innovation Centre) in the production of a report compiled to demonstrate the value of the service offered. The findings portrayed in the report have been an immense encouragement to all the team, who have worked tirelessly to build this project over the past 20 months, through the unforeseen covid climate which posed many obstacles we would never have anticipated having to overcome when we set out on this journey. 

Commissioned by the NHS and in partnership with local churches, the Night Light Cafes were established in 2020 as safe places for people to go when struggling with their mental health to receive non-clinical, out of hours support. Taking into account diversions from emergency services for mental health reasons, cost savings associated with serious self-injury and suicide prevention, and cost savings associated with reduced loneliness, Lincolnshire Open Research & Innovation Centre (LORIC) has used Social Return on Investment methodology to consider the estimated savings to the public purse through the support offered by the Night Light cafes.  LORIC have calculated that for every £1 invested in the project there is a Social return on Investment value of £2.45.

In compiling the report, guests at the Night Light cafes were consulted to identify how attending the cafes had impacted them. Their responses highlighted a reduction in loneliness and isolation, an improvement in low mood and in some cases, guests reported that they were less likely to act on suicidal thoughts or self harm due to this intervention. Guests also shared that attending had helped them to gain confidence and form social connections. As one guest shared when asked what they would have done if they had not attended the cafe, “Drinking, suicidal. I don’t think I would be here without this support.” Another guest shared “I have learnt how to express my issues better with the support I have had.”

Walking through Lincoln recently, I bumped into someone who has attended the Night Light cafe as a guest. We had an honest conversation about the highs and lows of life, and how difficult it can be to get through the hard times. I was pleased to hear that the Night Light cafes are continuing to provide valued support for this individual. 

In a society where value can often be measured quantitatively, I am constantly reminded that the success of the Night Light cafe goes far beyond counting ‘bums on seats’ and rather focuses on the enormous impact that can be made to an individual’s life through knowing they are not alone, that there are people who care and are available to sit alongside them, to show support and empathy, and to listen. 

This report clearly demonstrates the value of the Night Light cafes and the tremendous opportunity to instigate change in the lives of those who are so desperately in need of support during a time when mental health services are so stretched and the effects of a global pandemic are weighing so heavily on our population.

For more information about the Night Light cafes, or to express an interest in volunteering, please email or visit our Facebook page To book into one of our cafes, please call us on 0300 011 1200

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