Looking for learning: MEAM seeks an evaluation partner

The MEAM coalition is looking for an experienced and dedicated evaluation partner to work alongside us over the next five years.  Our director, Oliver Hilbery, explains more:

People with multiple needs face a combination of problems including homelessness, substance misuse, contact with the criminal justice system and mental ill health. They fall through the gaps between services and systems, making it harder for them to address their problems and lead fulfilling lives.

Over recent years, we have piloted and developed the MEAM Approach, a framework that 15 local areas are now using to design and deliver better coordinated services for people with multiple needs. Separately to this, we also support the twelve Big Lottery Fund’s Fulfilling Lives partnerships, which are working on similar issues on a larger scale.

Thanks to new funding from the Big Lottery Fund, we are now expanding the MEAM Approach network to 25 areas and creating exciting new opportunities for data and learning to be shared across the MEAM Approach and Fulfilling Lives networks.  Our findings will strengthen the legacy of both programmes and be used to improve outcomes for people with multiple needs across the country.

To help us meet these ambitions we are looking for an evaluation partner(s) to work closely alongside us, local areas and people with lived experience over the next five years.  The successful partner will be a key part of our team; have a clear vision of how to build on our previous evaluation activities; and embody our commitments to coproduction, collaborative working, and the practical use of data and insight to create change at a local and national level.

The invitation to tender outlines in more detail what we are looking for.  Please do help us spread the work to providers that may be interested in applying.


Photo: 45/366 by Roco Julie on flickr, used under CC BY-SA 2.0

Launch of the Lammy Review

David Lammy’s 35 recommendations set out a clear way forward, says MEAM’s director Ollie Hilbery. We now need leadership and resources to put them into place, so that this thoughtful review can have the impact it needs.

This morning I attended the launch of the Lammy Review, which was set up to explore the treatment of, and outcomes for, Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic Individuals in the Criminal Justice System.

The need for the review is stark: Despite making up just 14% of the population, BAME men and women account for 25% of prisoners and 40% of young people in custody are from BAME backgrounds.  If incarceration rates were representative we would have 9,000 fewer people in prison, equivalent to twelve average-size prisons.

The review covers all parts of the Criminal Justice System, but David Lammy is clear that many of the causes of over-representation – poverty, education, family – lie outside the CJS, as do the solutions.

Within the Criminal Justice System the findings centre around changes to the courts, sentencing, prison and particularly the youth justice system. The report links the 35 recommendations to three main themes:

  1. Scrutiny and fair treatment: exploring how better data and increased transparency can help drive change in the millions of decisions that affect people in the CJS each year. For example, BAME defendants are currently more likely to receive a prison sentence for drug offences, even when other factors are taken into account. More transparent data and analysis is needed to prevent these disparities continuing.
  2. Trust: the review shows that BAME individuals expect the Criminal Justice System to discriminate against them and that there are often poor relationships with staff. BAME defendants are far more likely to plead not guilty in court, therefore missing opportunities for diversion, community sentences or shorter prison terms, something that the Director of Public Prosecutions has now pledged to address. The Review calls for more BAME judges and prison governors and better support and advice for people at all stages of the system.
  3. Responsibility: the review explores issues around parenting, communities, employers and keeping young people away from criminal gangs.

David Lammy spoke with passion and precision about the review today.  But he finished by making the point that “actions matter most”.  Like all reviews, this one needs continued leadership and resources if the recommendations are to be put in place. Our partner Clinks has set out some of the steps that now need to be taken to ensure that this thoughtful review can have the impact it needs.

“I am starting to feel like a human being again.”

Across the country, people experiencing multiple needs have benefited from services working better together. In this blog, Anne describes the support she’s received from the Cambridgeshire Chronically Excluded Adults service, which was developed using the MEAM Approach.

I have a law degree and had a career in business. I worked and lived in London and never imagined that I would become one of those homeless people you pass on the street. When I did, society stopped seeing me as a human being.

In London none of the services that I approached wanted to help me. When I was given a diagnosis of a mental illness all my credibility and professionalism was stripped away from me. I was treated as a problem by services rather than a person that was in need.

Hear Anne and Marie talk about working together in our video about the MEAM Approach

Hear Anne and Marie talk about working together in our video about the MEAM Approach

The severity of my mental illness stems from the refusal of services to help me including the police, social services and the local Mental Health Trust. I was misdiagnosed.

If I had been given the support I asked for when I first contacted services I would not have become homeless, would not have a criminal record, would not have spent time in hospital and would have been able to return to my chosen profession and be able to support myself. If I had been listened to and supported when I first asked for help, thousands of pounds could have been saved.

It wasn’t until I moved out of London to a quiet rural area where I was street homeless and hit rock bottom that anybody stepped in to help me. I became visible again.

Marie is a coordinator with the Chronically Excluded Adults Service, and has worked with Anne for several years. Here she describes how she approaches her work.

People experiencing multiple needs are often seen as problems and the help and support they receive is often defined by this. My role allows me to really get to know the person I am working with and from the outset support is tailored not only to their needs, but also their preferences.

There is no set ‘framework’ for working with clients and this approach ensures that they feel they have equal control over the support they receive. We work in the belief that we hold no authority over the client, and we discuss information about ourselves – such as hobbies and interests – in order to facilitate a strong working relationship.

We start with one goal that the client would like to achieve and work from there. We involve other professionals and regularly hold meetings to ensure that all agencies are working together to meet the clients’ identified goals. The client is always at the centre of any work or decisions made.

I was referred to the Chronically Excluded Adults Service. Before this, everyone I approached and asked for help failed me. They saw me as a problem, not as a person with problems who needed help to solve them. The CEA saw me as a human being and this is where I began my road to recovery. I had given up hope of ever being treated like an individual again.

At this point I was in prison. I was criminalised for not being completely compliant and I knew I had been misdiagnosed, but nobody would listen to me so they silenced me. I was visited in prison by Marie, the CEA co-ordinator and straight away she realised that I was in completely the wrong place – from meeting her, everything changed.

She returned my humanity, listened to the different problems I had and tackled them with me. She visited me in hospital two hours’ drive away, contacted services on my behalf and gave me my voice back because services saw her as another professional. The CEA service is well respected by other organisations, and this worked in my favour.

Marie worked with me at my pace to fulfill my basic needs. She accompanied me to appointments and meetings that I found difficult by myself. She supported me fully until I began to get my confidence back to start to try and recover my life. With the CEA service there’s no time limit, so I don’t feel pressured to be better instantly and I don’t feel like a solved problem.

I am starting to feel like a human being again.


If you think the MEAM Approach could help improve the response to multiple needs in your area, register your interest in working with us

A strong argument for putting Housing First

The Making Every Adult Matter coalition (Clinks, Homeless Link and Mind) has responded to Housing First: housing-led solutions to rough sleeping and homelessness, a new report from the Centre for Social Justice.

As a key contributor to this report, we welcome its publication and recommendations. A range of responses are needed to end homelessness and Housing First has a vital role to play. A successful Housing First model depends on having coordinated, cross-sector support in place for the range of multiple needs that people experience.

Housing First England

We welcome the report’s recommendation for a cross-government strategy on homelessness involving key departments such as the Department for Work and Pensions, Ministry of Justice and the Department of Health. At the report’s launch in Westminster today, Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government Sajid Javid MP said action was needed across government to tackle the social problems that accompany homelessness.

The report recognises the specific support needs of the 58,000 people with multiple and complex needs in England, and it’s positive that local areas using the MEAM Approach to design and deliver better coordinated support for people with multiple needs are featured.

The report rightly notes that helping people into employment is an important long-term goal for Housing First, but the priority should be to help people turn their lives around. The case studies in the report are succeeding because they are able to help people manage their needs. Giving someone a home to call their own, and the co-ordinated, flexible support that helps them to keep it allows them to engage positively with health, care and support services where they were previously unable to do so.

We look forward to working with our partners to promote the messages in this report, and Homeless Link’s Housing First England project will continue to support the adoption of high-quality Housing First approaches across the country.