The Big Lottery Fund is today (12th Feb) awarding £112 million across England to end ‘the revolving door of care’ faced by thousands of people with multiple problems including homelessness, mental ill health, addiction and reoffending.

The grants of up to £10 million to 12 areas across the country will help to improve and create better coordinated services to prevent people living chaotic lives being passed between charities and services, which often cannot individually deal with their wide range of needs.

Nick Hooper, Service Director, Housing Solution & Crime Prevention in Bristol, one of the partnership areas, said: “We took a quick snapshot of people we were unable to place in any services and came up with astonishing answer of about 50 people per year.  That’s 50 individuals that no housing or support providers were willing to accept; 50 people, whether on the street, or in B&B because their needs were too great for any provider!  And when we got round the table with colleagues from probation, mental health etc. it quickly became apparent that we all had involvement with this group and they were often moving from prison and mental hospital, to hostel to drug treatment, to the street…. and then back again and all at huge personal and financial cost.”

The Big Lottery Fund’s investment, backed by Jon Snow, Mitch Winehouse and Russell Brand will bring together organisations and bodies in each of the 12 areas to coordinate and join up service, increasing the the stability, confidence and capability of people with multiple and complex needs to lead better lives, spend less time in prison, reduce their drug abuse, and get the support they need for their mental health problems.

Nat Sloane, Big Lottery Fund England Chair, said: “We’ve worked with a range of charities who tell us that currently the system is flawed – people are passed from pillar to post and the result is them rebounding in and out of A&E departments and criminal courts rather than being helped in an effective way by integrated support services. This £112 million investment will end the revolving door of care for these vulnerable people and rather than being drains on society will allow them to become assets that benefit their communities and society as a whole.”

It is estimated that there are 60,000 adults in England with multiple needs*. These grants will enable different services to form partnerships and work together to provide tailored support addressing all their problems, preventing people from falling through the gaps in service provision or rotating around various different services.

In another of the partnership areas, an assessment was carried out on 15 of the most chaotic people across Lambeth, Southwark and Lewisham who had a long history of poor outcomes, use of crisis services, homelessness, illness, addiction and imprisonment. Resolving Chaos looked at A & E appointments, the method of transport to hospital, evictions and mental health inpatient care. In two years the service use of these 15 people amounted to £1.83 million (not including rent or benefits). One service user cost £193,750 over two years.

Over the eight-year investment, the Big Lottery Fund will gather evidence by tracking the success of the partnerships to help shed light on more effective and efficient ways of organising and delivering services for people with multiple needs, the significant savings in health and criminal justice costs as well as the benefits to the individuals themselves and their communities. The learning will be used to improve practice amongst the projects it funds, to influence future policy and practice and encourage the continuation of successful interventions.

Case study: Darren Murinas, 41, Stoke-On-Trent.

“I was born severely visually impaired, and when I was six years old I was sent to a special needs boarding school. I was lonely and unhappy for long time, but after the first four years or so I became ‘institutionalised’. I didn’t miss home anymore and had pretty much forgotten what family life felt like.

“I left the school at 17. I wasn’t skilled in anything and at the time, the surge in the use of computers didn’t extend to people with visual difficulties. I found that couldn’t hold down a job, and it really wasn’t my fault and things started to go wrong for me.

“I was into the rave scene in the nineties and had dabbled in the kinds of recreational drugs you got at raves. This began to get out of control and turned into an addiction. I started dealing and ended up involved in organised crime to make money.

“In 2009 I was arrested and charged and sentenced to four and a half years in prison. While I was in prison I realised the harm that my way of life had done to other people, not just to me. Some of the other prisoners were there because of people like me. I was part of a vicious circle and it made me think.

“Before I was released I was put to work in the prison kitchen. I’m a bit of a natural chef and one of the prison staff noticed. This was another turning point for me. I was picked to teach basic cookery to long-term inmates facing release; men who had spent decades in prison and needed to learn basic life skills. It made me want to carry on helping other people when I got out.

“When the time came though, even just looking after myself on the outside seemed like it was going to be tough. I had no family, home or support network outside of prison. But literally hours before I was due to be released I was put in touch with a charity in Stoke-on-Trent called Saltbox that works with the prison and Probation Services. They gave me a short-term, safe place to live and introduced me to Brighter Futures.

“This was a really tricky time, it would have been all too easy to slip back into a life of crime – not to make money, but to buy food and clothes and keep warm. If it hadn’t been for Saltbox and Brighter Futures I might have ended up right back where I started.

“Now I work as an Expert Citizen with Brighter Futures. I’ve had lots of extra support from the RNIB too which has really helped me adapt to my new life and I’m an enthusiastic, and I might say, a pretty good cook. 

“All the support is there for me to move forward now and I want to use my life experience to help others and hopefully prevent them from making the mistakes I made.”

Case study: Steven Ellis, 39, Leeds:

Steven Ellis developed a passion for art during two years he spent at HMP Everthorpe. After release from jail he took a course at Leeds College of Art and is now in his second year of a BA (Hons) Degree in Fine Art.

Having realised the therapeutic benefits art could have for people with addictions, Steve has been running a recovery art group for more than two years. Steven received a Butler Trust Award from Princess Anne in March 2013 and visited Venice with the Koestler Trust after being nominated by the charity for prison art. He and other ex-offenders met Turner Prize-winning artist Jeremy Deller to tour the city’s major museums and galleries. In December Steven and the art group received a special commendation from the RSPH (Royal Society for Public Health).

He said: “I became addicted to heroin at 20 and it took me until the age of 35 to beat it. I found my way out. I started studying art in prison and getting some qualifications.

“Art is the best vehicle to recovery I’ve seen in prisons. Jails are often violent places, but there was never any trouble in the art classes I attended. On the wings, you would see three or four fights a day, but the art sessions were self-policing and always peaceful.

“When I went to DISC I was offered the mental and emotional support I needed. Trying to rebuild your life from scratch is quite a challenge while recovering from an addiction. I became a mentor, began an art recovery group and create strong links with the prison service so when people are released they are not lost.

“Venice was an incredible experience and quite surreal – walking along with a Turner-Prize winning artist. Jeremy is a top bloke and very generous. I’ve exceeded my wildest expectations – I had no idea that an art group would have had the impact it has had. I even have A-level students contacting me and that gives me a great buzz.”

The 12 successful areas:

Name of Lead Organisation

Project Area








Brighton Housing Trust

Brighton & Hove, Eastbourne and Hastings


Second Step Housing Association



Single Homeless Project

Camden & Islington


Resolving Chaos

Lambeth, Lewisham and Southwark


Plus Dane Housing






Changing Lives (formerly Cyrenians)

Newcastle and Gateshead


Framework Housing Association



Brighter Futures

Stoke on Trent



West Yorkshire




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