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Together York Pathways service to close

Posted on 02, September 2020

It is with sadness, but also a lot of pride for what has been achieved, that we have to announce the closure of Together’s York Pathways service on 30th September 2020.

The project was developed in 2014 in response to an escalation in incidences of self-harm and suicides, in particular across the North Yorkshire area, which triggered Together’s collaboration with North Yorkshire Police. Since then, the dedicated and skilled Together staff team in York have supported a large number of people and introducing approaches that have empowered service users to take control of their lives through focussing on service user leadership and valuing the lived experience of mental distress. The impact that the team have had on the lives of the people they have worked alongside cannot be underestimated and the compassionate and person-centred practice has informed and influenced the approaches of collaborating agencies across the city.

York Pathways was an innovative project developed by Together in collaboration with Lankelly Chase Foundation, the North Yorkshire Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner, Vale of York Clinical Commissioning Group, City of York Council, North Yorkshire Police and other critical health and social care partners. The aims of the project were to identify and support individuals most at risk of using crisis services and placing high demand on emergency services within the city of York, educate and inform services about working with complex distress and enable joint strategic planning to more effectively meet the needs of service users.

The service model was designed to respond to the fact that distress often occurs alongside a range of other disadvantaging factors including substance misuse, trauma, abuse or homelessness, for which individuals regularly come into contact with emergency services. Due to lack of resources and demand placed on them, emergency services can only address immediate risks, meaning the benefits of those interventions are often short-lived. The lack of clear onward referral pathways or interface between emergency services and other local support agencies meant individuals often found themselves in a cycle of crisis with repeated contact with ambulance or police services. This is where the York Pathways team looked to intervene and provide longer term support.

In working alongside individuals experiencing complexity of need, the York Pathways team took a preventative approach to divert individuals into appropriate resources and develop coping and relating skills while seeking to strengthen existing informal networks, friendships and family relationships. Staff would seek to address the concerns that were causing the most distress as identified by the individual such as financial problems, housing worries or substance misuse and this in turn would reduce the contact with emergency services and, in many cases, avoid enforcement action as a result of social disadvantage.

An evaluation completed in 2017 found that the Pathways approach with service users and partner agencies was effective at responding to the entrenched needs of service users and capable of breaking complicated, non-linear and cyclical patterns of behaviour and engagement which other ‘mainstream’ services continued to find challenging. Through a wide range of referral protocols, York Pathways and its partner agencies were able to identify and engage with a group of people who had historically relied on repeated contact with expensive, emergency services and successfully facilitated a decrease in the number of ambulance, crisis and emergency department contacts as a result.

But it has been service users, themselves, who have told us what support from the Pathways team has meant to them:

“[The Pathways worker] has always been there for me. No matter how many times I fell, you know, she didn’t judge me. And she goes oh, it’s just a blip. Well, it wasn’t just a blip, it was horrendous. And I take my hat off to [the Pathways worker] because, you know, anybody else would have given up on me.”

In 2019 Together produced a series of films on mental distress and the criminal justice system which featured service users who had worked with York Pathways. Donna’s story below is a great example of the impact the support had:

From the start of this project, Together has been appreciative of the funding from the North Yorkshire Police, Fire & Crime Commissioner who saw the potential difference that this work could make, and which has enabled this work to continue over the last 6 years. However, the funding is now coming to an end with the decision to reorganise this type of support across North Yorkshire and York and so the work of the Pathways project will be drawing to a conclusion. From 1 October, the way support for individuals in the region who frequently come into contact with emergency services, where mental health and wellbeing support is provided, will be changing.

Linda Bryant, Together’s CEO commented:

”I have been involved with the development of Together’s Pathways model since its inception in Rotherham in 2012, funded by the Barrow Cadbury Trust, working with younger adults at risk of entering the justice system. North Yorkshire Police was ahead of its time when it approached us to develop a similar approach in York for people at risk of crisis. It has been a fantastically collaborative journey for the wide range of agencies involved, working together to enable and equip service users to lead more fulfilling lives and determine their own futures. I hope that the legacy and learning from all that has been achieved over the last six years will be taken forward for the benefit of York citizens” 

The service has now stopped taking new referrals and the Commissioner’s Office will work closely with Together and the Pathways team to ensure that transitional support is provided to individuals who remain in the existing service at the end of September and who require ongoing medium to longer term support.

If you are working with an individual that is also working with the Pathways service, a worker will be in touch to discuss any ongoing needs.

If you have questions about the transition period as the service comes to an end you can contact staff from York Pathways at:

Or contact Sally Lynch, Commissioning and Partnership Manager at the Office of the Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner – sally.lynch@northyorkshire.pnn.police.uk.

Information on alternative referral routes can be found be below.

Access to Wellbeing Service  – 01904 526566 – https://www.tewv.nhs.uk/services/access-to-mental-wellbeing-services-amh-vale-of-york/

Adult Social Care – 01904 555111 – https://www.york.gov.uk/GetAdultSocialCare

The Haven –  07483 141 303 – https://www.valeofyorkccg.nhs.uk/your-health-and-local-services/mental-health/crisis-support/

Mental Health Recovery Team –  01904 553850 – https://www.tewv.nhs.uk/services/outreach-recovery-team-adults-york-and-selby/

Women’s Wellbeing Centre – 07812 663703/ 07812 663061 – https://www.healthwatchyork.co.uk/news/newly-refurbished-womens-wellbeing-centre-opens-in-york/

York Mind – 01904 643364 – https://www.yorkmind.org.uk/contact-us/ Kyra Women’s Project – 01904 632332 – https://www.kyra.org.uk/pages/contact-us/