Listening to frontline voices in Westminster

January 29, 2015

At our launch event on November 24, we brought together people with experience of complex needs – such as problems with substance misuse, mental health, homelessness or offending – and practitioners, policymakers and politicians in Westminster.

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They met to launch Voices from the Frontline, a publication featuring the insights of people with multiple needs and those who support them. The event focused on a group discussion about why people struggle to get the right support when they find themselves in greatest need.

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Some were frank about their own experiences. For instance, Paul was discharged from hospital in the middle of the night with nowhere to stay – three days later he was back, this time with hypothermia. Rachel, who was on the Work Programme, managed to secure a job despite the personal difficulties she was experiencing – but had no support to hold it down.

At the event, participants discussed why the system fails people, and what needs to change. For instance, people argued that:

  • Support services need to work better together
  • The contracts they work under should be more flexible
  • People want and need to be treated as individuals, not as a collection of problems

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Commenting after the launch, MEAM Chair Baroness Tyler said:

“There’s a temptation to think of people with personal experience as ‘beneficiaries’ – those on whose behalf the powerful make decisions. But what Monday’s event proved is that they have as much to offer in solving these issues as any politician, strategist or civil servant.”

We encourage you to read the publication, and pass it on to anyone you feel would be interested.

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Over the coming months, we’ll be working more with people who participated in the launch – and others – to help them develop their ideas about how policy for multiple needs could be improved.

Photographs by