MEAM welcomes bold new strategy on poverty

The Making Every Adult Matter coalition – formed of Clinks, Homeless Link and Mind – welcomes the Joseph Rowntree Foundation’s new strategy ‘We can solve poverty in the UK’, published today.

In it, the JRF sets out a comprehensive picture of the scale and challenge of poverty, and highlights the specific challenges faced by people experiencing multiple and complex needs. We support their call for “flexible and co-ordinated support that builds on people’s assets, strengths and relationships.”

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The strategy clearly sets out the links between poverty and the wider needs people experience, demonstrating the need for a joined-up strategy across government on these issues. For too long, policy and services have addressed homelessness, substance misuse, mental ill health and contact with the criminal justice system in isolation. This prevents people from getting the co-ordinated, flexible support they need to move away from the most damaging forms of poverty.

We are pleased that the accompanying report features York’s work using the MEAM Approach – a framework to help local areas design and deliver better co-ordinated services – and the Big Lottery Fund’s Fulfilling Lives programme.

It is positive that the strategy makes a specific recommendation around the need to scale up Housing First, an approach that provides housing initially and wraps support for individuals’ needs around it. Homeless Link is leading Housing First England, a project to build a movement to support good practice.

Solutions like Housing First cannot succeed without a co-ordinated, system of support for people experiencing multiple needs. There are many examples of this, including the work being done by local partnerships that are using the MEAM Approach. This in turn depends on sustainable funding for the services that people with multiple and complex needs require.

It is also encouraging that the strategy considers how to support people in gaining and staying in employment, including the use of models such as Individual Placement and Support. Our own work has highlighted the importance of providing appropriate, flexible and personalised employment support to help people with multiple needs move towards independence.

MEAM was glad to be invited by the JRF to contribute to the strategy, and help ensure that people living with multiple needs and the voluntary organisations supporting them were represented. We will continue to support the JRF’s important work on these issues, and make the case for a joined-up approach to tackling multiple needs thereby reducing severe poverty nationally and in local areas.