It’s time to work together to address multiple needs

Monday, 23 February 2015 - 11:35am

Lucy Terry of Revolving Doors introduces three new publications on the area of multiple needs - covering funding, practice and, most recently, the views of people with experience of multiple and complex needs.

At Revolving Doors, we were excited to see prominent coverage given to the issue of multiple and complex needs in the recent Homeless Link manifesto. Most people working in the homelessness sector will know that the issues of multiple needs and homelessness are inextricably linked. People facing multiple needs frequently experience insecure, unsafe or transient housing. They also often sleep rough, sometimes for many years. On top of this, these multiple problems are often worsened by a lack of stable housing, with untreated mental illness and substance misuse making the navigation of benefits bureaucracy, housing and homelessness services incredibly hard.

Reflecting this crossover, we have historically worked closely with charities such as St Mungo’s Broadway and we have promoted good practice within the homelessness sector - for example promoting the development of psychologically informed environments.  

Research backs up policy direction

Homeless Link’s manifesto is part of an encouraging evidence base that multiple and complex needs are increasingly taken seriously. The government recently committed to extending the principles of Troubled Families to individuals facing multiple needs. Meanwhile, the Big Lottery Fund and the national Making Every Adult Matter coalition, of which Homeless Link is a member, are delivering targeted support to this group in areas across England.

The ongoing policy attention is bolstered by a recent LankellyChase / Heriot-Watt report into the prevalence of multiple needs across England. Hard Edges: mapping severe and multiple disadvantage in England confirms the crossover of homelessness and multiple needs:

  • Each year an estimated 58,000 experience a combination of substance misuse, offending and homelessness. 
  • Mental ill-health, including psychosis, is found at high levels in the hostel population.

Better support, stronger strategy

As the Homeless Link Manifesto makes clear, “A robust plan to tackle multiple needs is vital to ending homelessness.” 

At Revolving Doors, we are publishing a series of briefings that support local leaders in developing a robust strategic plan to tackle multiple needs in their area. Our three latest briefings consider different aspects of the agenda:

The homeless sector must play a role

Later this year, we’ll publish a toolkit showing how different sectors can work together to tackle multiple needs. Housing and homelessness must be a part of this collaboration: strategic leads in local and regional authorities; voluntary sector organisations; outreach workers supporting people who are homeless; service users.

Understanding what is effective in working with this group and where policy trends throw up challenges for this group will be important for those who want to play a part in triggering genuine change.

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Lucy Terry

Research and Development Officer

Lucy is Research and Development Officer at Revolving Doors Agency, working for better systems and services for people with multiple and complex needs.