Gary Morris, programme manager of Waves of Hope reflects on what they have learned about delivery and transition as the programme comes to an end this December.
It was a cold winter morning when the email from National Lottery Community Fund came through agreeing a six month continuation period for the Liverpool Fulfilling lives programme “Waves of Hope”. The agreement meant two things, firstly more time to plan for the transition of over 100 service users out of the programme and secondly to give more time to the Core Strategy Group to prepare to deliver the learning and legacy outcomes to the wider multiple disadvantage sector. During that time a lot has been achieved: the almost 100 per cent delivery of the transition plan which enables service users to continue to be supported beyond the life of the programme and the delivery of a celebration closing event, a final summative evaluation report and a much better alignment with wider strategic initiatives such as Housing First.
So what have we learned about delivery and transition?
We have learned that a support model that is focused on individual needs and outcomes is of primary importance to the people using services, people using services need the opportunity to use their time constructively to help build confidence. The nature and severity of people’s needs fluctuate, and progress is seldom straightforward or “linear”, services need to be flexible in terms of thresholds and eligibility criteria, people experiencing multiple disadvantage benefit from support that has no fixed time limit. Peer support provides a positive role model both in group and individual settings and for many people experiencing multiple disadvantage their top priority is appropriate accommodation – they want to feel safe and secure, to focus on their recovery.
Paid and unpaid staff need effective support to deal with people with complex and chaotic lives and a history of trauma; psychologically-informed approaches and regular psychological supervision are crucial for the wellbeing of staff. The identification of women experiencing multiple disadvantage is important – more must be done to reach women and services must reach beyond the housing and homelessness sector and seek referrals from mental and physical health and drug and alcohol services. Staff in mainstream services need to be better able to recognise and deal with people experiencing multiple disadvantage and workforce development in wider services is imperative. Given the nature of the project and the people we supported our ambition to create savings for public services was not appropriate, the focus should be to consider efficiencies created by supporting people to access more appropriate support for their needs rather than making repeated use of crisis services.
Multi-disciplinary team (MDT) approaches which enable access to wider services that people experiencing multiple disadvantage are entitled to should be anticipated at the outset of support and services should proactively develop relationships with health and other statutory services to ensure that transition becomes the norm rather than a process that occurs at the end.
It has been a fantastic five years, we have learned a great deal about what works and what doesn’t, we are leaving that learning behind for others and we wish our partners every success in delivering the change required.