For five years we’ve been supporting Making Every Adult Matter (MEAM), a coalition of four charities – Clinks, DrugScope, Homeless Link and Mind – working to improve policy and services for people with multiple needs.
Last week, MEAM brought together people with experience of multiple needs – such as substance misuse, mental health problems, homelessness and offending – with practitioners, policymakers and politicians in Westminster.
They met to launch Voices from the Frontline, a new 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 face multiple problems at the same time.
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.
As they talked, participants were clear about why the current support system fails people, and what needs to change. They argued that support services need to work better together; that the contracts they work under should be more flexible; and above all, that people want and need to be treated as individuals, not as a collection of problems.
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.”
MEAM will now be inviting MPs, Peers, Parliamentary Candidates and other decision-makers to spend time visiting local services to understand the challenges people face. They will encourage them to ask difficult questions of local leaders who can influence change; and to work with the Voices From the Frontline team in the run-up to the next election.
If you want to find out more about why tackling multiple needs is so important, you can watch a short video produced by MEAM’s partners in York, which was used to open the Voices from the Frontline event.
CGF UK continues to support MEAM and also brought funders together last week to discuss complex needs and multiple exclusions.
More information about MEAM and its work in local areas using the MEAM Approach is available at www.meam.org.uk.