North East England



Lead partner

Middlesbrough Borough Council: Community Support, Domestic Abuse and Homelessness leads

Middlesbrough House,
Elm Street


Other Partners

National Probation Service

Switch Project (Nacro)

Cleveland Police

Area Summary

Middlesbrough joined the MEAM Approach network in 2020.

Getting started – partnership, co-production and defining the problem

Homelessness and Domestic Abuse needs assessments completed in 2018 determined strategic and commissioning priorities for the area. They identified that although there are a good range of services, these are fragmented and disjointed which impacts on the effectiveness of the response. It recognised an intersection between homelessness, domestic abuse and substance misuse for service users but ineffective coordination and case management resulting in an increased risk that service users disengaged or dropped out of system.

Middlesbrough Borough Council have been working with statutory and voluntary partners to change commissioning structures to allow services to deliver coordinated interventions, improve communication and streamline the process.

The integrated model has been governed by a strategic project management board. A project team comprised of housing, domestic abuse and substance misuse specialists, and commissioners held a series of events and workshops which brought together stakeholders, providers, social housing associations & landlords to build relationships, gain a deeper understanding of a service user’s journey and think innovatively about how things could be done differently.

Designing your intervention

Regional and local data sets have highlighted increasing need and demand on voluntary and statutory services in relation to domestic abuse, homelessness, drug related deaths, rough sleepers, domestic homicide, incidents of suicide and/or self- harm, and children becoming looked after due to domestic abuse. The partnership is focused on improving the experience and support for service users with multiple complex needs, particularly addressing gaps with women. These groups are victims of stigmatising attitudes and are under-served cohorts despite being some of the most vulnerable people in our society.  Reviews have highlighted that service users with multiple needs find it difficult to engage with services, face multiple barriers which are difficult to overcome, engage in risky behaviours and are unable to protect themselves from harm.

The integrated commissioning model priorities are to develop coordinated case management which will be overseen by a newly appointed coordinator, and assertive approach to the care of vulnerable service users who engage in risky behaviours or find it difficult to engage with services.  The model will embed trauma informed policy and practice as this was identified as the key change needed to meet needs of vulnerable service users better together.

Sustainability and System Change

The Project Team are currently undertaking work to establish stronger partnership arrangements across the wider system to ensure that partners fully understand the referral pathway and eligibility for the integrated service. Alongside this the 2020/2021 phase of the navigator project is looking to further develop partnership working by delivering workshops across the region to raise awareness of the Domestic Abuse Navigator project, to promote what works and embed trauma-informed delivery.