Innovation through partnership
Forging partnerships that tackle crime
We were pleased to be invited to be part of a London-based initiative run by the Mayor’s Office for Policing and Crime.
Funded by the Home Office, this initiative is a two-year pilot to tackle the issue of offenders who cause greatest harm to communities and demand most of the justice system.
The approach is one that brings systems and agencies together that may not have previously worked in close partnership. We have provided two practitioner posts to support offenders with identified mental health needs.
We created two new practitioner posts in the London borough of Southwark. One works within the Southwark Anti-violence Unit, which is a dynamic partnership of statutory services, voluntary organisations and community-based organisations and aims to maximise the impact of existing resources. Our post is part of the Safer Southwark Partnership and aims to find ways of drawing on all these resources to address the serious problem of urban violence and gangs.
The second post works with Southwark’s Integrated Offender Management team providing support to service users as well as giving advice, guidance and training to criminal justice colleagues to help them effectively meet the needs of service users experiencing mental distress and a range of other vulnerabilities.
Our criminal justice services helped more than 500 people a month tackle the difficult things in their lives and steer clear of crime
Working together to get people on the right track
York Pathways helps people who are close to reaching crisis point, or when their lives are chaotic and affected by multiple disadvantage. At times like this, people may repeatedly make contact with emergency services, or be at risk of entering the criminal justice system. In many cases, these services aren’t equipped to provide the support they need.
That’s where Pathways comes in. The service, which this year was highly commended at the Positive Practice in Mental Health awards, provides practical one-to-one support, and works closely with other agencies and emergency services to improve the way the overall system works. They also have a revolutionary approach to data sharing across organisations, which helps make the experience of using services smoother for the people who need support.
The story of the service is best told by those who’ve seen it work first-hand: our Together team members, the professionals they work with and, of course, the people they support.
Click below to hear what Pathways means to Cath, Dawn, Sam and Sylvia.
Anti-Social Behaviour Officer with City of York Council
I’m Cath Tracey, I’m an Anti-Social Behaviour Officer with City of York Council. Part of my role as an Anti-Social Behaviour Officer is investigating breaches of tenancy but trying to work with a person to change their behaviour. Working with Together Pathways enables us to give a background about the case, enables us to give our views on what’s happening with that person. Then the Together Pathways staff member meeting with that person and they might have a different outcome of what we believe was happening in the beginning. Then we work together to bring about a change and that may be that Together Pathways work on their housing benefit or they work on cleaning up their property. Or try to work with hoarders, which is a difficult one.
They are able to, because they have such knowledge of all the different services, they are able to approach those services. And I think they have more of an open door than perhaps we as Anti-Social Behaviour Officers do. I think the title brings up something of an obstacle. But Together Pathways have a different approach, and then they’re able to bring it all together and facilitate that by then bringing people together to bring about a change.
We’ve had some really up and down times actually. We’ve had times when we’ve thought: ‘absolutely great, this person’s really, really engaging and we’re going to really move them on’. And then, for their own reason, that person then has a decline. I think we shouldn’t judge that decline. It’s very hard to measure how that person has travelled on their own path.
I don’t have as much contact with a person once we have our court order. But knowing that there’s somebody else there that’s going and making sure that they’re fine so that there’s no other breaches of their tenancy so we don’t have to action anything, is really good.
So, as a Pathways Worker we would get referrals sent in to the managers. They would sift through them and see if they fit the criteria and then they would match a service up to a pathways worker. So they would make sure that they’re linked right, you know, you get the right vibe from someone as to whether they’d work well together. And then my role then would be to get to know them. And it wouldn’t be a case of: we’ve got a week, we’ve got a month to ask certain questions. It would be maybe the first visit is just going and talking to them and seeing how they’re doing. And making them feel comfortable and making them at ease with you so they feel they can open up and tell you what’s going on.
I’ve found that, as I was a prison officer for 25 years, so my experience with people is totally different to the outside world. Because ours was with discipline where as they’re at the other end of the scale. So me now, I see the vulnerability of people and how they’ve got from where they are now to going into the prison system.
We’ve got lots of different services that we can link them into that maybe they didn’t know anything about. And we’ve got lots of different charities now that we’ve found that can help financially and with practical things. If they weren’t linked with us, they wouldn’t know about that. And that’s only because if you don’t know where to go and you’re isolated and you’re scared and you’re worried you don’t go anywhere, you just stay there. So for us, we’re very fortunate and through the council and through all the other charities we’re able to [create] ‘Pathways’, if you like, into all the different services and that.
We’ve found that the majority of our clients have been embedded in the way they live for many years, so they find it very difficult to change. Because they think they can’t change, because they think there’s nobody there to help them change. So that’s why it’s really important that we spend that time just getting to know them, and for them to trust somebody. It’s really hard when they’re so poorly and so in themselves because of their condition. They don’t know there’s somebody there to help and they’re very wary and very sceptical of people who want to do something for nothing. We just want to help them and make sure they’re okay. They’ve never had that before. They find it really strange when we keep going back and saying: ‘We just want to know you’re okay. Are you okay? What’ve you been up to?’ and we might be the only people they’ve seen for weeks, and it’s just that call or just that popping round to see how they’re doing.
That’s my main motivation is: the look on their faces when we go back after they’ve had a go at us and told us to ‘do one’. And you go back the next day, and that’s what they want. And I think they test you, and they test you all the time to see if you’ll go back because so many times they’ve done that to people because they don’t know how to communicate. They’re really frustrated and angry and when they go to them and they don’t know how to express what they really want to say so it comes out in an aggressive way. So when they tell people to go away, they do go away and don’t come back. But I think for us, it’s okay. It’s not okay to say the things the way you say them, but it’s ok to be angry. And we’ll come back, and we’ll maybe help you to say it in a different way next time.
I was actually their first client that they had and I was in hospital at the time when I was introduced to Pathways. Pathways, I have to say, are people who take on people that nobody else has any time for. They listen, [they’re] un-judgemental and if I’m really honest, the things I’ve been through, I might have given up on somebody but they hang in there, stick in.
They don’t judge you they don’t. If you have a fall they don’t go: ‘oh well, we’ve tried.’ No, they don’t give up, especially Dawn hasn’t given up on me. In fact I think she needs an award! A medal!
I mean if you’d have met me two years ago I wouldn’t be in this office, in fact I wouldn’t have opened the door to you. So my mental health has really, really improved. I do things now, that I wouldn’t even have dreamt of. And even when I’m feeling at my lowest and think I’m not worth anything they’re like ‘come on’ you know? And they’ve made me feel like a person again.
I got a Community Psychiatric Nurse through the service, and then I got help with alcohol and I got introduced to lots of different events. Like here they have different days, different workshops. It’s for everyone, really.
What I had to learn was: as much help as someone gives you you’ve got to help yourself, and believing the people who are helping you. Oh god, if I could give anything back, it would never be enough. Because Pathways and Dawn especially have given me a life, you know? Who does that? Who does that?
I would really love to be in this type of work myself, right? Because I know what it’s done for me. And I am certainly so much better than I was when they met me, absolutely. I mean I have my days still and I have to realise now that I do have issues, yeah, I do have anxiety and depression. But, I know how to sort of deal with it better. And everyone has bad days, let’s be right. But I feel that I could benefit other people with my knowledge and understanding of what it’s like to be hurt.
I honestly don’t know where I’d be without them. But I wouldn’t be sitting here talking to you, that’s for sure. I wouldn’t even be coming out of my house. I’d be there, in a bubble, probably for the rest of my life, or as long as I could hold out. So, for somebody to give you your life back, well, what do you say?
So we work with people who are in some form of mental distress, it doesn’t have to be diagnosable, and it can be anything. So it could be from being really lonely and isolated from people through to having a diagnosis of schizophrenia or Borderline Personality Disorder.
When people are referred we find that we are working with multiple and complex needs, so there are often a number of things going on for that individual. They’re normally referred at point of crisis so, when they’re spiralling. We use the three hardest things tool, which is about looking at what’s most important and what’s hardest for them, not looking at the reason that they were referred.
We work on three levels. So we do one-to-one support where we work with the clients on the ground offering emotional and practical support and trying to link them in with services.
We do multi-agency support. So we have a big focus on having a whole systems response to individuals with complex needs rather than working in silos. So from the point of referral, we’re trying to get everyone who’s working with that person round a table. Because we hold such small caseloads and have small capacities because of the nature of the people we support, we do multi-agency support. So we might not work with the client directly, but we work with all the agencies working with an individual to try and explore what some of the challenges are and how we might work a bit differently.
And we work strategically. So we have a strategic board that has all our key partners and stakeholders, so representatives from the Police and Crime Commissioner, Clinical Commissioning Group, to the NHS and the council. So we can take up challenges we’ve found in trying to support people to access the system and some of the barriers we’ve come across.
We can spend six months just engaging people. And what we find is a lot of what we’re doing while building that relationship is [re]building [after] a lot of mistrust that people have with the system. So they’re expecting you to close them or discharge them or let them down. Sometimes you feel like you’re being pushed by them, like they’re pre-empting that, and we work with that to try and understand that.
We understand that we’re going to have ruptures and fall outs with our clients, and when they disengage we don’t just close them we try to think: ‘what aren’t we getting here? What have we missed?’ And we try to work with them to understand and rebuild the relationship again. So when they disengage we try everything until we’re basically told to bugger off. We don’t just assume that they’re not motivated or they don’t want support we instead assume that something is really difficult or that they’re struggling, and we try to work with that.
We have reflective practice, we make sure that’s always prioritised and that’s the space where we can think about what we’re missing. And as a team we might sit down and think: ‘what’s going on for this individual at the moment? At what point did they disengage? Why do we think that is? What were we working with?’ We try to see what the hidden messages are and although we’ve had a few people completely disengage it’s really minimal numbers.
A hub for partnership working
Together’s Southwark Wellbeing Hub is the first point of contact for anyone in Southwark worried about their mental health, or that of a friend or family member. They can use the service by attending drop-ins, calling or visiting the website, making it easily accessible to all.
This year saw the Hub provide one-to-one support to 833 people, and the website received an average of 30,000 hits per quarter.
As well as providing extensive practical support alongside a programme of workshops, a key element of the service is working in partnership with local organisations, agencies and resources that can help people with specific goals such as healthy living or tackling isolation. It’s vital that the team works closely with other services within the borough to ensure people get the specialist help they need. Over the past year the team have developed a number of new innovative partnerships with organisations across a range of sectors. Some examples are: