Many people in contact with the criminal justice system face a series of simultaneous challenges. These can include poor mental health, homelessness, drug and alcohol misuse. Our research shows that, year on year, as the number of people within the criminal justice system continues to rise, their needs are becoming more complex and urgent.
Today in England, an estimated 58,000 people are experiencing these multiple needs. They fall through the gaps between services and systems because they are assessed on specific issues, rather than their overall need. Whilst they may not meet the threshold for one service, their overall need can be severe. This makes it harder for them to address their problems and escape chaotic lifestyles.
A lack of co-ordination between services means that:
- People are turned away from services because their needs are judged either too mild to meet a threshold, or because of their other needs. For example, counselling services turn away those with substance misuse issues. However, without the counselling, the individual may not be able to address their substance misuse issues.
- Organisations don’t communicate with each other to ensure that an individual’s full range of needs are met.
- Local areas fail to manage crucial transitions, for example from the youth to adult estates, or as people leave the care system or prison.
The human cost is considerable. People experiencing multiple needs are likely to live in poverty, experience stigma, discrimination, isolation and loneliness. Of people experiencing the most severe multiple needs, 90% are out of work. Only 16% report good or very good quality of life, compared to 70% of the general population. It is equally costly to the taxpayer, with estimates suggesting costs of between £1.1 billion and £2.1 billion per year.
The voluntary sector has led the way in piloting new approaches that break down the barriers to services. Our State of the sector research finds that voluntary organisations are working hard to meet the ever changing and complex needs of the people they engage with. They have created new partnerships with a range of organisations from all sectors, set up new services, involved people with lived experience in their design and delivery, made their approach more flexible and changed their culture to get people the support they need. These new approaches are changing the way local systems work for the better.
The MEAM Approach helps local areas design and deliver better co-ordinated services for people with multiple needs. It is currently being used by many of our members, in partnership with statutory services, across England.
Clinks thinks decision makers, commissioners and service providers should use learning from the Making Every Adult Matter coalition and the Big Lottery’s Fulfilling Lives programme to develop new policies and better coordinated services to support people with multiple needs.
What Clinks is doing
Clinks is part of the Making Every Adult Matter (MEAM) coalition, along with other national charities Homeless Link and Mind. The coalition works closely with Collective Voice, which represents the substance misuse sector. Together, we represent over 1,300 frontline organisations working in criminal justice, drug and alcohol treatment, homelessness and mental health. Working together, we support 35 local areas across England to develop an effective, coordinated approach to multiple needs that can increase wellbeing, reduce costs to public services and improve people’s lives.
23 of these areas are using the MEAM Approach – a non-prescriptive framework to help local areas design and deliver better coordinated services. Finding shared solutions can be beneficial to everyone involved, yet developing a coordinated approach with local partners can be difficult. The MEAM Approach is designed to facilitate this coordinated approach.
Clinks is also involved with the Big Lottery Fund’s Fulfilling Lives programme, which works in 12 areas across England.
In line with our aim to change the way services are organised and delivered and increase their flexibility so that people aren’t excluded from getting the help they need, our area development team supports Fulfilling Lives areas Cornwall, Exeter, Plymouth and Sunderland to implement the MEAM Approach. The team also provides support to the Bristol Golden Key and the Newcastle and Gateshead Fulfilling Lives Programmes.
Clinks works together with our MEAM partners to influence government policy on multiple and complex needs. If you have any questions about this policy work, or to raise any issues, please contact Will Downs.
How to get involved with the Clinks group that advises the Ministry of Justice
Summary note of the RR3 Future Regime Design SIG meeting
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Other sources of support
The Making Every Adult Matter website
Multiple needs: time for political leadership. MEAM sets out the scale of the challenge around multiple needs and the action that government must take in response.
The full list of MEAM publications
The MEAM Approach