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Together Pathways service saved from closure in York

Posted on 19, June 2017

A vital Together service that reduces demand on emergency services by helping people experiencing mental distress has been saved.

Our Pathways service in York offers free, personalised, one-to-one support to individuals experiencing mental distress who may repeatedly make contact with emergency services, or are at risk of entering the criminal justice system.

The service was facing imminent closure earlier this year as its time limited funding came to an end. However, it has now been saved by generous funding contributions from a range of agencies who have recognised the value of the model.

Pathways workers give people a thorough assessment of a person’s needs, and provide individuals with practical support to manage their mental wellbeing and to access community resources, from employment and training, to housing, mental health and substance misuse services. The team also support people to identify, understand and alter any behaviours that are perpetuating their mental distress.

They work with individuals to develop tools that enable them to sustain these changes, for example, emotional awareness, assertiveness, negotiation and problem-solving skills. The team supports individuals with a range of mental health support needs, including people who have complex needs, such as substance misuse issues or a history of offending. There is a key focus is on strengthening their informal support networks and relationships.

The service has been running in York for two years, and has established strong working relationships with agencies across the region. North Yorkshire Police, who have been central to the project since its inception, work particularly closely with Pathways to ensure the best support for individuals who are referred.

Inspector Bill Scott, North Yorkshire Police’s lead for mental health, said:

“A significant proportion of calls to police and other emergency services come from people who are experiencing mental health issues. This is particularly true outside of normal working hours, where other services may not be available. Whilst the police will always try to help keep people safe, we aren’t mental health experts and often the issues are deep-seated and cannot be resolved by us alone. In many cases, the complexity of those issues means that mainstream services do not feel able to offer the help that’s needed. That unmet need can manifest itself through extreme distress.”

“The Together York Pathways project has shown that a small team of dedicated professionals can work with our most vulnerable people to get the help they need, and to change their lives for the long-term. By doing so, it improves – and probably saves – lives, as well as reducing inappropriate demand on already stretched emergency services.

“It’s excellent news that the project has been extended and I’m keen to make sure that we secure a sustainable funding model to help keep people safe in the years to come.”

As the project enters its third year, there will be a renewed focus on working with colleagues across different sectors to create a support system that works for those experiencing multiple disadvantages in York. This stream of work will be supported by Lankelly Chase Foundation, which has funded York Pathways since its launch in 2015. Pathways will deliver a series of workshops and forums to bring service users, frontline staff, senior managers and commissioners together to understand and unpick the challenges the city faces. The team will also be working alongside a consultant to identify and maximise partnerships across York in terms of how services can collectively improve their response to people with multiple and complex needs and how that work is funded.


Liz Felton, CEO of Together for Mental Wellbeing says:

“We’re delighted that our Pathways team is able to continue their vital work and keep helping people in York. We really believe in this model and our funding partnerships show that agencies across the voluntary, healthcare and criminal justice sectors see its enormous value too. By continuing to work closely together we can help more people access the support they need, whilst also alleviating pressure on the town’s primary care and emergency services.”