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

March 17, 2017

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