Getting started - partnership, coproduction and defining the problem
North Lincolnshire joined the MEAM network in 2017, they recognised that although there was a lot of strong pockets of partnership working in the area there were many different multi-agency groups working on similar issues and with similar people. They joined the MEAM Approach to help create more efficiency and effectiveness in their local system, and to address some of the systemic issues that exist locally. North Lincolnshire is also committed to using the MEAM Approach to rejuvenate their user involvement opportunities for people with lived experience of multiple needs.
Designing your intervention
When North Lincolnshire initially joined the network, they used existing resource within the local authority to allocate a coordinator to work with eight people. Because of the positive results they saw for this initial cohort additional resource was found to expand the team, and the MEAM coordinator now works with a multi-agency team of 6 that includes RSI navigators, a public health funded MEAM substance misuse worker and the street outreach team. This has meant that the group are able to cover weekends and nights and be even more responsive to the needs of the cohort.
The operational work is overseen by the MEAM Champions, a group made up of senior operational staff from local services, who take a lead on multiple disadvantage for their agency and meet to look at flexibility for the existing cohort as well as identifying more persistent barriers that require escalation. Through this multi-agency approach the area has seen a great deal of flexibility for clients; for example, clients have been given renewed housing offers, restrictions on rent arrears have been lifted, the drug and alcohol team have given bespoke support offers and they have worked closely with probation to avoid unnecessary recalls to prison.
Vision for sustainability and system change
North Lincolnshire’s operational work is particularly strong, and frontline workers understand and work within the values of the MEAM approach. The MEAM strategic work has taken several forms over the last few years. During lockdown a multi-agency senior strategic group was called that meets fortnightly and focusses in on specific cases on the MEAM caseload. In the coming months it is hoped that this strategic partnership will continue to grow and look at embedding the changes being created at an operational level. The group are also keen to look at the way that they involve the voice of lived experience in this partnership and have made some initial steps to grow an experts by experience group.
“Becoming a MEAM Approach area has helped North Lincolnshire to strengthen our expectations around responses to multiple needs in two major tenders, and we have committed to continue this in future commissioning processes.”