Policy and research partnerships

Preventative responses to multiple needs

tuoslogo_key_rgb_loPeople 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. Increasingly, local areas are seeking to improve the support they provide to this group, but often this happens only when an individual’s situation has become critical.

The Making Every Adult Matter (MEAM) coalition, formed of Clinks, Homeless Link and Mind, and a team of academics at the University of Sheffield are collaborating on a programme of research to understand where and why opportunities are missed to provide effective support at an earlier stage. This work is part of the Crook Public Service Fellowship organised by the University Sheffield, a scheme designed to create links between academics and the public and not-for-profit sectors.

The research will take place with the support of MEAM’s local partners, who are working to develop effective, coordinated approaches to multiple needs across England. Building on their expertise and knowledge, the research will lead to policy recommendations for local authorities, commissioners and frontline services, and support earlier and more effective responses to multiple needs.

Coordinated responses to multiple disadvantage: How are local areas meeting women’s needs?


MEAM, AVA, Agenda and St Mungo’s are currently working together on a research project to explore how local areas are responding to women facing multiple disadvantage.

Across the country there are a growing number of localities working at an ‘area’ level to develop better responses for people with multiple disadvantage.  The focus of this work tends to be on the practical coordination of homelessness, substance misuse, mental health and criminal justice services, alongside a commitment to ensuring that all relevant agencies offer flexible service responses.

Many of the beneficiaries (and potential beneficiaries) in these localities are women, yet little is known about how these services are responding to the needs of women and to what extent a wider range of services – in particular, domestic and sexual violence services, social services and services aimed specifically at women – are supporting women facing multiple disadvantage.

We have worked with five local areas (and a conducted a survey) to better understand:

  • How homelessness, substance misuse, mental health and criminal justice services are responding to the needs of women
  • To what extent women-specific services are supporting women with multiple disadvantage
  • How these services are working together.

The findings from this study will contribute to the existing evidence base, inform local practice, and help to ensure that cross-sector multiple needs partnerships offer effective support to women with multiple disadvantage.