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Moderator: So, good afternoon, everybody, and welcome to this afternoon's webinar. I'm Adi Cooper, I'm the Cairn Health Improvement Advisor, leading on safeguarding adults for the health and health-, Cairn Health Improvement programme, the LGA. I want to welcome everyone this afternoon to this webinar on making every adult matter, and every contact count, safeguarding people experiencing homelessness. I'm aware that people are still joining the webinar, so I might talk quite slowly while people continue to log in. We have over 400 people registered, and at the bottom of my screen, it says 175 people are currently logged in. So, I think we will be expecting people to join over the next few minutes. I'm going to say this several times, that, please, delegates, people who are attending this webinar, please put your questions in the Q and A function, and Michael will pool them together when we come to the discussion section of this afternoon's session. The slides and the recordings will be available on the LGA website after this event. So, you will be able to access all the slides and also a recording of this session, as with all the previous sessions. They're available on the LGA website. So, I'm just going to say a few words about the background to this event. This is a series of virtual seminars which builds on work that we previously undertook about adult safeguarding and homelessness. So, in 2019, 2020, we held four workshops nationally on adult safeguarding and homelessness, and those were organised through the Cairn Health Improvement programme. Those workshops brought together people from across the country, across organisations, from different sectors, to talk and listen to speakers and discuss issues regarding safeguarding people experiencing homelessness.
And the outcomes of those four workshops were published in a briefing by Michael Preston-Shoot, who's on the call, and has organised these events with me today, and that document is available on the Local Government Association website. It's a joint publication with the Local Government Association, and the Directors for Adult Social Services, and it's a briefing on positive practice in homelessness and adult safeguarding. So, originally, before the COVID pandemic, we'd planned to use the briefing as a way of supporting local discussions at regional levels, and debate about homelessness and adult safeguarding. Unfortunately, or fortunately-, well, unfortunately, COVID changed that, but fortunately, we had an alternative, which was to organise this series of webinars. We discussed with members of a reference group, we've had an expert reference group, or advisory group, supporting us in this work, and we talked to them about what would be the best way forward, given that we didn't know how long COVID was going to last, and what impact it would have. And what they suggested, and what we've organised, is a series of eight webinars, of which this is the eighth, on a range of themes. So, today's webinar is around making every adult matter, and making every contact count, and I'll talk about the people who we've got presenting this afternoon. But, I just want to say a bit about the objectives of today, which are the same as the objectives on the previous webinars. So, really, what we wanted to do through this series of eight sessions was to share information, particularly around good practice, positive practice in this area of work, adult safeguarding and homelessness, people experiencing homelessness, but also to provide an opportunity to understand how safeguarding people experiencing homelessness might have changed this year with COVID, and what that impact has had in this area of work.
What we're hoping to do, and I'll come to it at the end of today's session, is to put-, use this input for a further briefing building on the briefing Michael did last year, which will be published later on this year. And so, we're going to ask people for contributions, and have asked people for contributions throughout the eight webinars to help us with that, to provide examples of positive practice over this last year. So, in terms of where-, of-, in terms of today, I'd like to welcome and introduce the speakers. We've got Carl Price, who's-, Substance Misuse Recovery Coordinator at Change Grow Live's Homeless Team. We've got Jason, John, Kinga and Tom, who are members of Independent Futures, and then we'll have a short break, and after the break, Claire Barcham will be talking about Emergency Duty Team services and support around this area of work. So, I'll reiterate that, the slides will be available, as well as a recording, on the LGA website in a couple of days. And please could you put any questions in the Q and A, because we'll come back to a Q and A discussion session towards the second half of this afternoon's programme. So, hopefully that's clear. I would like to cross over to-, hand over to Carl, if you're-, our first speaker. If you would like to-, I'll put myself on mute, if you would like to come off mute and introduce yourself, and share your presentation? Thank you, Carl.
Carl: Thank you. Good afternoon, everybody. So, my name is Carl Price. I am a Recovery Coordinator in the Homeless Team at Change Grow Live in Birmingham. So, my role at the moment is working with all the people who rough sleep, anybody that's in short-stay hostel accommodation, or people in unstable housing. I've been doing that, now, for about five years. A few years before that, I have actually experienced homelessness myself. I was rough sleeping on the streets of Birmingham for approximately about four years, sleeping in car parks, underground tunnels, shop doorways, anywhere that I could get my head down. Prior to that, I've lived in a lot of different hostel accommodation, and also been in institutions such as children's homes and the care system since the age of two. So, I appreciate being asked to come and just share a little bit of my experience in both my, kind of, own experience of homelessness, and also in, kind of, what I do day-to-day in my working practice. So, this is just some of the feelings that I actually felt, and some of the feelings that I experience in the people that I work with every day, that are homeless on the streets. For me, it was quite a traumatic experience. I've seen quite a lot of bad stuff, the way I was felt during that period. I felt alone, I felt scared, I was depressed, at points I was suicidal. I couldn't see a way out of the situation that I was in, because I felt that I was so entrenched in that lifestyle. I couldn't really see anything outside of that. I didn't feel like I had a voice, I didn't feel like people listened to me. A lot of the time, I just felt like people would walk past me in the street, and they would only see the fact that I had a sleeping bag, and that I was homeless on the streets. They didn't see anything past that.
They didn't really care about the reasons why I'd ended up in the position that I did, and I felt that people thought that I deserved to be in that position. The longer that I was on the streets, the more secluded that I felt, and the more excluded from society that I felt, as well. The further away, and the more difficult that I found it to be able to transition back in to that, you know, everyday kind of life that, at points in my life, I had lived. And it was confusing, you know? The people that I related to the best were people that were in similar circumstances to me, and if I'm honest, I was very, very wary of professionals, anybody that came out with, you know, a lanyard on, or any form of ID, or stuff like that, because part of me was institutionalised, and I hadn't had good experiences over the years in the care system, in the kind of places that I'd lived, and while I was homeless, with professionals, I felt let down. I felt like people promised to do things that they were unable to do, or that they just weren't bothered. You know, I seen a lot of bad stuff. My best friend that I was homeless with for those four years, I watched him have his throat slit purely because somebody took a disliking to him because he was homeless. He hadn't actually done anything wrong. The guy just disliked him. I was in an altercation with somebody as well, that I woke up to in the middle of the night and they were trying to steal my trainers. I ended up getting stabbed seven times by that person. You know? And these really were completely unprovoked attacks. I was in a position where I was very vulnerable. I didn't really feel I had support, you know? The people that were my best friends were also in that position, and were also, themselves, very vulnerable. So, you know, that period of my life has had a lasting effect on me.
It's a period of my life that I will never forget, and that's kind of the reason why, now, I do the role that I do, and I work with, you know, the-, the homeless people, and people in hostels, and stuff like that. It's my opportunity to be able to give those people the support and, you know, give a little something back for the help that people actually gave to me, and eventually enabled me to come off the streets. So, I think there's definitely, even now, I mean, homelessness has become a lot more, kind of, mainstream, now, and-, and-, and there's been a lot more education, and-, and it's talked about a lot more than what it used to be. I don't think it's as easy to ignore the issue now, but there are still a lot of different misconceptions about homeless people, and actually, you know, everyone that lives on the streets is dirty, or they deserve to be there, or they take drugs, or, you know-, there's lots of different things, and I think it is about education. For me, you know, my journey started from a very early age, and that led me to the point where I picked up substances, ended up on the streets, but there are many, many different reasons that somebody can become homeless, or, you know, end up in a hostel, or unstable housing, on somebody's sofa. These are just some of the-, I think, you know, any one of those issues can be interlinked, and one can lead to another. Some people can deal with one of those, or two, some people may have all of them, or there may be other reasons why somebody becomes homeless. And now, in my working practice, it's always about looking at, what is the individual need of the person?
I don't want to stereotype that person, because everybody's from a different background, everybody's got different needs and support needs, and for me, it's always about finding out from that individual what's important to them, because as a professional, sometimes, you can be guilty of trying to fix somebody's situation, and thinking you know what's best for them, when actually, if you have that conversation and you speak to them, and you find out what's important to them, it may be that they have many different needs at the same time, but some may need addressing before others, and some may be important to that person. So, again, it's just about breaking those stereotypes, and understanding that, really, it doesn't matter your background, it doesn't matter how much money you've got or how big your house is, what job you do, where you're from. Everybody is in a position where, at some point during their life, they could become homeless, because, you know, everything you've built up can fall down, and you can lose it all. So, again, it's just about educating people. So, when I-, when I was on the streets, the word 'safeguarding' to me, I always had this kind of preconceived idea of what it was. And when I heard that word, to me, it meant people having their children taken off them. Social services. People working against me, rather than working with me. And I think, you know, across the board, in-, in our job roles, in our personal life, we all have a responsibility to recognise and respond to safeguarding. And I think, in order to be able to do that effectively, we need people to actually understand what it is, the reasons why we're doing what we're doing, and, like I said, a big deal for me is somebody working with me rather than feel like the safeguarding process is actually being done against me.
So, involving people in that process. It being a supportive process rather than feeling like, actually, they're penalising me. So, it's-, it's education, it's people understanding what it is, and-, and why it's actually being done. How we're gonna do it, who needs to do it, what are the different things that are gonna need to be done, and involving the person that's trying to be safeguarded in the actual process itself. Training and education, I think's a big thing, again. Making sure that people have the knowledge. They understand the protocol, the processes, the escalation routes, all of that different stuff, as well. Learning from previous failures, so, you know, there-, there will be serious case reviews and safeguarding reviews, and things where things have not been done to the standard that they should have been done, or there's been missed opportunities, and it's about being able to learn, 'Where did it go wrong?' You know, 'What should we have done?' Or, 'What can we do better next time?' And making sure that we don't repeat those same mistakes the next time something occurs. Sharing knowledge and experience, again, being able to-, everybody's got their own knowledge and experience, different organisations, different people, and being able to bring that together to be able to get learning, because it doesn't matter how much we think we know, there's always more. We could always-, we always need more knowledge, we always need more experience. Every, kind of, safeguarding situation that we're faced with, or we go through, we learn something new from that, and it's about, then, taking that knowledge and that experience forward, and being able to continuously improve our own practice, and the way that we approach safeguarding with the homeless population.
Also, it's about recognising the stuff that works really well, you know. Positive outcomes from our practice, as well, and being able to incorporate that in the future, and people understand that, actually, you've done really well, you know? You've-, you've done what was expected, it's had a good outcome, and next time, you know, let-, let's do that again. Understanding what are the barriers, as well. What things could prevent us from effective safeguarding practice, as well. And again, it goes back to the training, the learning from previous failures, and also, the sharing of knowledge and experience as well. I'm just trying to see, because I can't see on my thing, what the last slide is. Let me just see if I can get it-, yeah. Yeah, so, action planning, as well. So, again, breaking it down into different steps, and looking at what needs to be done, and who's going to do it. And I think, ultimately, the word 'safeguarding' for me, when I was homeless, it was about somebody trying to keep me safe. The only thing was, at the time, I couldn't see that. I felt like they were trying to penalise me, but actually, what they were trying to do, ultimately, was support me. And when I was ready to accept that support, stuff made a lot more sense to me, and that process then became a lot smoother and a lot easier for-, for the professionals that were actually coming out on the streets every day, and offering me that support and that advice, and trying to get me out of that situation. So, why is the the multi agency working approach-, why's that important in the homeless sector? And the reason why I've put this car up is the reason why it's important.
So, when we're faced with somebody with complex needs, and myself, when I was homeless, I had more than one thing that I needed support with, and all of them, you know, physical health, mental health, substance misuse, homelessness, all these different things, these complex needs that people will have, if we only address one of them, it's like a car. You've got four wheels on the car. If one of the wheels are missing, the car isn't gonna go anywhere, you know. It's gonna be at a standstill. There's not gonna be any progress. And it tends to be the same with the complex needs. If somebody's got underlying mental health issues, but that isn't being addressed, but actually, we're putting all our focus on addressing the substance misuse, well, then, the likeliness is, this person is self-medicating their mental health with substances. So, if we don't sort out the mental health side of it, they're probably going to continue to use substances. The same again, with the homelessness. If we try to put them into accommodation, but they're not receiving any support with their mental health, or they're not receiving support with their substance misuse, the chances are, they're gonna find it increasingly difficult to be able to maintain the accommodation, because the other complex needs are-, are not being addressed. So, what I find everyday in my own working practice, and when I was in the situation myself is, organisations working together in that multi agency approach, and everything being addressed together, you're in a much better position to be able to have a positive outcome, and for that person, inevitably, they get off the streets, to be able to maintain that progress going forward.
So, it's about everybody working together, moving in the same direction, everybody being on the same page, not duplicating work, so, you've got two different organisations trying to complete the same task because there's been no communication between the two. So, that's, for me, why multi agency working is-, is really, really important. And the benefits of it, again, it's knowledge and experience, because we're always gonna need help from people who have their own expertise, that fall outside of our own, you know, job role. We can't be everything to everybody, so I need to be able to draw on that experience, I need to be able to phone up another organisation. I'm a substance misuse worker, I'm not a mental health worker. I'm not a GP, you know. I'm-, I'm not a probation officer, so, I need to be able to tie in with those organisations and speak with those people and get, you know, the benefit of their expertise, and their help, because in the end, it-, it achieves the best possible outcome for the person that I'm supporting. It also frees up time constraints that I have. So, if I'm trying to fix things that are outside of my own job role, that's taking up time. That then means that I've got less time to sit down and talk to the person about their drug use, or their alcohol use. So, it also frees up my own time to be able to concentrate on the things that, you know, I'm paid to do, as well. Gives you opportunities for training and further education. So, I go out now, and I provide training on homelessness to loads of different organisations that work within the homeless sector, and by being able to do that, that is then, you know, furthering other organisations' knowledge, as well.
It helps us to build those relationships, and again, all of this, at the end of it, is for the benefit of the person that-, that we're actually supporting. It benefits their needs, you know, as well. So, you know, I like the saying 'nothing changes if nothing changes', and I guess that's-, that goes for, you know, myself, when I was homeless. You know. If I don't attempt to make any of these changes myself, then people can come out and offer me all the support in the world. If I'm not ready to do it, I'm probably not gonna change much. And I know sometimes that's frustrating for people, and it's a continuous, kind of, cycle of offering support every day, and-, and, kind of, nothing changes-, changing, but ultimately, it boils down to whether or not that individual is ready to make those changes themselves, but that I feel that there are always things that we can do in our own working practice to adapt our approach, and look at new ways of working. COVID's been one where-, every-, the way we work has completely changed. I-, I think, you know, not having face-to-face with people and being able to sit down and have proper interventions has been a big-, a big change, and things have probably gone unnoticed, and it probably has heightened safeguarding concerns in a lot of different areas. There has been some positive as well, because I know, myself, that I've had quite a few clients that have been entrenched rough sleepers, and have been doing it for twenty plus years, that maybe would still be doing it if it wasn't for some of the restrictions that came in, and actually, now, they're settled in accommodation for the first time in a long, long time, and they're in a much better position, as well. So, you know, it has had some positive impact as well as the negative. So, being able to change and adapt our approach.
We do, as support services, help thousands of homeless people each year, but like I've said, I always think that there's more that we can be doing. Focussing on evidence-based practice, looking at actually what works and what doesn't, ensuring that we're making the most of the opportunities that we have, so, when we get that opportunity, to have those interventions with people. At the end of that intervention, when that guy goes away, have we offered the support that we could have offered? Have we made the most of that intervention? Because sometimes, they are few and far between. So, when somebody walks out of an intervention with me, I wanna make sure, in my own mind, that I'm everything possible during that time to counteract, you know, any risk, or any safeguarding concerns, and make sure that a person's going away feeling like they've been supported and they've been listened to. That they've had a voice. Policy reform, that's guided by the actual evidence. You know, this-, the issue of homelessness needs to be escalated up to the highest level of the government, and it needs to be consistently done, because, in my-, in my kind of view, over time, sometimes it-, it slips back again. So, it becomes a really well-known issue, there's a lot of talk going on in government, funding becomes available, but then sometimes that can also slip back, and it can go back onto the back burner again. So, it's about consistently being able to update that stuff, keep it at the forefront of people's minds, and-, and deal with the issue. We've discussed about learning from previous failures, and also widening the multi agency co-location approach, as well. So, I know in my team at CGL Birmingham that we go into the hostels and we run clinics, we have offices in the hostel.
All of the different workers go to all the different hostels across Birmingham each week, and we pick up a lot of people that we work with from-, from actually doing that. It helps the hostels, and it helps the people that live in them, 'cause actually having workers there day to day, where they can just come and knock the office door, come in and have a chat, or come and get the support that they need, rather than having to travel a distance to be able to do that. I think that has really helped, and during COVID, it's really helped, as well. And having a person-centred approach. So, treating each person as an individual, you know. When I was homeless, I didn't feel like see me as a person. I-, I felt like I lost my personality. I lost who I was. I became a number, I became a homeless person, and nobody seen past that. So, for me, it's important to be able to look at that individual. They're still a human being. Yeah, they're in a bad situation, but like I said at the beginning, any of us can end up in that situation. So, let's treat them as individuals, let's look at their individual support needs, and let's get those addressed. And education and training, we've all talked about that, and I think absolutely everybody has their own role to play in the long run in ending homelessness. So, just a few of-, other things, as well. I mean, I received a lot of help to get off the streets. I would not have been able to do it on my own, you know? And I'm eternally grateful to those people, and I will never forget that support and help that I was given to be able to get me out of that situation, and I wouldn't be where I am today if it wasn't for those professionals and those organisations giving me their time, and giving me their support. And these were some of the other things that people helped me to do, because if somebody would have took me off the streets and put me into four walls, basically, and left me to get on with it, I wouldn't have coped.
I wouldn't have had no-one-, four years on the streets in the cold weather, and not having to pay bills and not having to maintain a tenancy and not having no benefits, and all that different stuff that come with me being homeless. I wouldn't have been able to function in a property. So, I needed wrap-around support to be able, for me, to be able to maintain that tenancy, and to learn that behaviour, and to learn how to pay bills and get my gas and electric, and all that different stuff that came with it. I needed help to get back into employment, for education, for training. Obviously, a big part of my homelessness was substance misuse, as well, and I actually went through Change Grow Live as a service user initially, and then, obviously, was given the opportunity to volunteer, and-, and get into paid employment. I needed suitable accommodation. So, I was a vulnerable adult. I didn't want to be placed into a hostel where everybody was using drugs, you know. People are being taken advantage of. I needed to be placed into accommodation that was suitable for my needs, where I felt safe, and I was one of the lucky people that were-, you know, at the time, was-, was given my own flat, and that really helped me. I needed help with mental health, because I had a lot of, you know, (mw 30.42), I had a lot of trauma from-, from childhood, and-, and different stuff that I needed to deal with, because if I-, if left untreated, I would have struggled. And it helped setting up a benefit claim. I didn't have no benefits, I didn't have no housing benefit, I didn't really know how to do it, 'cause I hadn't done it for so many years. I wasn't registered with a GP. I had underlying physical health issues that needed sorting out, you know, because being homeless and using drugs brought me to the brink of death, you know, if I'm honest.
For offending, I was on all kinds of probation orders at the time. I needed help to get to those appointments, and to link in with probation. The living skills, maintaining tenancy, finances, paying my rent. All of the different stuff that comes with it, I had no understanding of that. I didn't have a bank account, you know, I had no where to have my benefits paid into, I had no money. I needed help to set that up. I had no furniture, and I had no support network. So, the biggest thing, if you've got no-one to talk to, and you've got no support, you know, sometimes, you know, in your professional life, you're available from, in my case, eight until 4 o'clock on-, on the afternoon, and then, what do you do for the rest of the day and night? You know. You-, you're sitting somewhere in a sleeping bag, or you're sitting in an empty flat, and you've got no-one to talk to, and you're struggling with all these different things, you know. So, they helped me to link back in in-, my-, after 30-, 30 years, I got talking to my dad again, you know. I had a relationship with people that I cared about, and I loved, and that hadn't been part of my life for so long, and that stuff just gave me another incentive to continue making that progress, and-, and moving forward. So, I-, I think, overall, you know, it's a very complex issue, and it will continue-, needs to be looked at and addressed, but when we're doing the right things and the right support's in place for people, you know, it empowers them to-, to start making these better decisions for themselves moving forward. We keep them safe, you know. We keep them from harm, and at the end of the day, there are positive outcomes, and I'm an example of that, with support that I've received from people.
So, I hope I've covered everything. Thank you for everybody's time, and I think that's me done.
Moderator: Thank you so much, Carl. That was a really powerful and insightful presentation, and a lot to think about and to reflect on. So, people, just going to remind people to put questions in the Q and A, to come back to any of the speakers after all the speakers have done their presentations. I'm gonna hand over to Jason, John, Kinga and Tom as members of Independent Futures to talk through their presentation, and then we'll have a short break. So, please-, I'm having over to you to start.
John: Hi, I'm John, a consultant from Independent Futures. I'd like to introduce some testimony from some of our life experiences. Independent Futures, IF, is a group of professional lived experience of multiple disadvantage. If members aim to impact-, empower clients and professionals in Bristol to make a long-term positive changes by sharing the learning from their own lived experiences. What works and what does not, for homelessness, from a lived experience perspective.
Tom: Okay, would you like me to present my-, John, would you-, I'll give my presentation now, shall I?
John: I'd like to hand over to Tom.
Tom: Okay. No. Alright, okay, here it is, coming up. Bear with me. Okay. The pathway to progress, and what this means about improvements that could be made to-, to housing, and housing process of the homeless clients, largely, ironically, to what we've been going through with COVID-19 epidemic. So, I'll just read through this for you, and we can ask questions later. Those members of IF, that's ourselves, Independent Futures, involved with homelessness matters, have noticed a significantly increased rate of speed at which local authorities have moved to house homeless clients during the COVID-19 epidemic. Indeed, rough sleepers, who might not previously have been taken into account by the authorities, have, in many cases, had their immediate accommodation requirements actually addressed. Peer research carried out by IF members at hotels used for immediate housing needs discovered a consensus amongst rough sleepers, for it was concluded that emergency accommodation provided to many of the clients was actually of a far better quality than had originally been anticipated by those same service users. So, you know, exceeding requirements, or expectations, is not a common thing in this area, I would have thought. In addition, the key worker support that has been provided by Golden Key practitioners at various sites to all clients in those settings was found to be largely beneficial, on feedback from from those same service users, with one or two minor exceptions. What was also appreciated, clients maintained a reasonably high degree of personal freedoms when residing at these COVID-19 hotels. Hotels, not hostels, remember, while simultaneously keeping to the social distancing guidelines put forward by the government and the relevant authorities.
Free food and other beverages were also provided for clients on those premises, and this benevolence was largely welcomes by these same service users. Okay, the odd complaint about the quality of the food, but otherwise, under the circumstances, it was indeed appreciated-, appreciated, sorry. As we look to the future, during the course of the lockdown/restrictions, there has been a clear examination and support for the needs that homeless clients face in regards to gaining permanent housing in the post-COVID-19 epidemic era, rather than simply during the pandemic itself. Not simply for a crisis situation, in other words. The success of the final outcome is yet to be quantified. It may take a number of years to fully compile, as clients adjust to their new, and ideally permanent, respective residential surroundings. And this is a lot harder than, I think, people imagine, as our previous speaker, Carl, made clear. What lived experience can offer? Well, those of us who've gone through the similar circumstances, or circumstances that are associated with homelessness. IF have provided lived experience input into a number of ongoing housing programmes in Bristol. One of these projects is still in the planning process, but is expected to be completed by mid 2022, while another programme has been admitting clients since last autumn, with predominantly positive feedback from both the residents in those new apartments, and their neighbours, who aren't-, don't have a historical background of being homeless. So, a mixing of different groups, there. An unusual start. Project developers have been actively trying to get clients and lived experience input as to how the necessary housing can be constructed.
For example, one such housing development is having ongoing regular interactions with IF members at meetings, and therefore with-, where representatives from other professions within the housing industry are present, and can ultimately exchange and engage with ourselves at IF, and the input that we provide. So, different sectors coming together to formulate a cocktail of policies, which, hopefully, as with multi agency working, produces a positive result for all. But, we must also manage expectations, and advice is also given by IF to the relevant authorities as to how clients' expectations of their forthcoming accommodation might be successfully met. This has included IF setting out how to best address service users' potential disappointments in the event that there are outstanding concerns originating from clients in relation to their new residence. Even this has happened at the hotels, which are otherwise-, have been largely positive feedback from service users. Ultimately, we must look at the bigger picture, for this is for the long term. Trying to avoid homeless ghettos. This can be seen in the development of such an accommodation project, I related to it briefly earlier, currently taking place in Bristol, with the mixing of homeless clients and non-registered homeless residents within the same relevant building. If successful, such a makeup of residents from a comparatively wide criteria could indeed be the blueprint for future social and non-social housing, thus moving away from a form of social segregation that might otherwise exist, and creating ghettos that-, well. Like (inaudible 40.23) hostels and the community, but on another scale. It's moving away from that, having more genuine neighbourhoods. An ideal, but ideal that can bring about, I think, it's genuine social cohesions.
It's not initially going to be perfect, but it's definitely an improvement. Okay, now, I'll pass you over to Kinga, to talk about housing first projects. Kinga, over to you.
Kinga: Hello, I'm Kinga. I'm a member of the IF in Bristol. I want to talk about housing first project. This is my first presentation. So, housing first is an intervention which support homeless people with multiple and complex needs to access and maintain independent housing. It is different to traditional staircase of treatment-first approach, in that it places people vertically in independent long-term secure housing, with personalised flexible and non-time limited support. Service users have chosen control over both their housing and the support that they receive. What does work with this housing first approach? So, several clients have responded very well to the approach, and have been successfully housed and are maintaining their tenancies for prolonged period of time. This might be the case even after years of sleeping rough. When this happens, clients appear to have more control over their problems, and rely less on emergency services, such as police, or A and E. The biggest challenges is housing supply. Challenge is also in working with some housing offices, who are commonly described as lacking knowledge and understanding of housing first. Challenge of overcoming people's fears and anxiety around tenancy (mw 42.08) and dealing with social isolation when moving from the streets into secured accommodation. One of the biggest challenges is cuckooing. It's frequent with drug-using clients. The practice of cuckooing is not always evident to the client. Drug dealers may present themselves as friends initially, throwing house parties and supplying drugs in clients' homes. They take over the place, indebting the tenant, and potentially forcing them to work for them. Other types of antisocial behaviour or exploitation from neighbours may take place.
Health and safety measures could be compromised by clients who might disable smoke alarms, or storing highly flammable substances, like butane. And poor mental health make it challenging to obtain consent from candidates, and in some cases, tenancies were terminated as the risk was unmanageable. Another important challenge is to identify suitable staff, in particular, support workers who have a necessary combination of skills, experience, and attitudes. So, it's important, the involvement of people with lived experience of homelessness and complex needs in service development and preparation. Project is fantastic opportunity to allow rough sleepers sleep independently. It's cost-effective, save money on hostels, and emergency services. So, in Bristol, it's seven clients so far, and in Camden, as I found out, it's 50 clients. Thank you for listening. I'm going to pass it on to Jason.
Jason: Hi. I'm Jason. I've been a member of Independent Futures for six and a half years. Yeah. I-, Corado (ph 44.11), could you just play the presentation for me, please?
Presentation: I've been homeless twice in my life, once for a few months back in 1994, and again for almost two years with my partner in 2006. The experiences were totally different, but I remember my biggest shock and disappointment was when I needed help the second time around, the hub had gone. I can't remember its official name, but everyone always called it 'the hub'. It was a small ramshackle office on the edge of St Paul's. It was tiny, and had a disorganised feel to it. There's a cramped reception area, and you could turn up at any time. No appointments, no queues, and no ticket. I had a worker, an older black lady called Joyce. I saw her face-to-face whenever I came. She knew me and my case. Although the hub was not a day centre or food provider, they didn't seem to mind if you came just to get out of the cold and grab a hot drink, as long as you asked for an update on your application. In 2006, I was confronted with telephone numbers, no credit, and sometimes, no phone. A big housing office with unfriendly bouncers outside, long waits, automated tickets, and I never met the same person twice. No-one knew me, and my life was held as notes on a computer, and not on a person's head and heart. Part of me believes I was homeless for so much longer, due to this. In fact, it took seven days from the date of our housing application, and a premature baby, to get housed by the council. We did, however, get off the streets quicker than this, but this was sheer luck, and thanks to a pushy partner, and over a year of searching for a landlord who would take housing benefit. There were more homelessness services to meet our immediate needs. A wealth of free food options, a choice of day centres, and the night shelter. As a woman, though, I don't think I would have felt safe accessing some of these if I'd been on my own.
However, the staff I met were like the people from the hub, friendly and supportive. The thing is, they had no power at all to get us off the streets, like my old worker had. Fast forward to 2021, and we've been in secure accommodation for twelve years, and off the streets for fourteen. I still have regular contact with homelessness services, but this time as a drug and alcohol worker. I am now one of those friendly faces. In my role, I often refer to foodbanks, and help make housing-related telephone calls. The thing is that I, just like the staff at the night shelter and free food places, have no power to get anyone off the streets. Those that do have the power are hidden away at the end of the phone, and reside in a big central building, hard for my South Bristol clients to get to. There are still bouncers, renamed 'customer service agents'. My guys have been (ph 47.29) manage the hour walk, or can afford the bus faire, get to see whoever's available that day. If they have an allocated worker, they don't know about it. Housing workers are for those who are already housed. They, like I used to, exist to the council's homelessness team as notes on a computer system. My clients can't push or chase their cases due to the office being so far away, and a telephone call involves at least an hour on hold waiting to talk to a stranger who does not know them. Anyway, often they have no phone, or no credit. Even I, as a fellow professional, cannot bypass this telephone waiting system for them, and this makes it hard for me to support them with their housing and their appointments, no matter how much I want to. Today, there are more food banks and soup kitchens, but day centres are long gone, and the quality of food provided has dropped.
Sofa surfers have almost next to no chance of getting housed, and night shelters and hostels seem more frightening than the streets. I believe it's the loss of places like the hub, the one-stop disorganised paper-filled office, that had allocated and contactable workers, where service users had a name, that has changed the feel and effectiveness of homelessness services.
Jason: Thank you. Hi, I'm Jason. I had a prepared statement, and then I'm not even gonna bother to read it. I kind of think that complex needs, multiple disadvantages, they're not nice, handy words, but they almost make it seem as if a problem cannot be solved. Over the COVID period, we've done amazing things. I'd like to just congratulate the team that did this presentation, we are all lived experience, and to have our voice, I've-, you know, I don't feel like an imposter here, speaking our truth. It's required. There's a lot of mechanical thinking, a lot of planning, it's been going on for decades. It's not even a new thing. My passion's EDI. I just believe that we need to get in contact with the empathetic part that led us into these roles that we-, we have, as professionals, as lived experience, and-, and there is a relationship there that has a power that can help deliver better outcomes for-, for the clients. Yeah. So, I hope you enjoyed it. Yeah. Thank you.
John: Yeah. Just to say that, look forward to answering your questions, and thank you for listening.
Moderator: So, thank you very much for that. Really complex, and nuanced presentation, and I think it captured a lot of the issues that Jason, you just referred to in your closing comments about people's experience, and the variety of people's experiences, the good, and the bad, and the ugly. We're about to have a ten-minute break. People, don't go away. Just go off and have a cup of tea, or comfort break. Come back for the third presentation, and I think I've seen quite a few questions coming through the Q and A. Keep them coming. There's an opportunity later on to have a conversation with colleagues, even if it's not a question, it might be a comment. I'm trusting Michael to pull that together. So, it's five to three now, shall I suggest we come back at five past three? So, let's have a ten-minute break, and come back at five past three for the next part of this afternoon. But, please don't go away too far. Thank you everybody, and thanks so much for the presentations for the first half of this session. See you soon. Welcome back, everybody. So, I'm going to hand over to you, Claire, to talk about safeguarding homeless adults out of hours, and then after that, we'll come back together for the questions and discussion. So, over to you, Claire.
Claire: Thank you Adi, and thank you everybody for taking part, and inviting me to be part of this. I have to say, having to follow that is a tough one. So, what I'm hoping to do is to give people an idea about how to make best use of the social workers who are available outside of normal working hours. The Emergency Duty Teams. Now, I work as a Emergency Duty Team manager, I'm a social worker in an AMP (ph 56.38) in central London. There will be teams of people like the team that I manage all around the country, but they will be slightly different, depending on the situation of your local council. So, first of all, who are we, and where are we? Councils are expected to provide access to emergency social work support outside of normal working hours. The majority of what we do is dealing with child protection, adult safeguarding, thinking about requests for mental health acts assessments that come up, but those aren't the only emergencies. Emergencies come in all sorts of ways, and one of the things I've always enjoyed about the work that we do is the fact that I'm talking to real people with real problems, and trying to help them navigate into the system, and finding ways that will work for them. Now, one of the challenges about the services is that they can be very different, depending on where you are. So, some areas have a model which-, where they have different people who are focussing around helping adults and people with mental health problems with a different team working with children's, while others will provide what's called a 'generic' service, which basically means, you have sometimes one, sometimes more than one practitioner taking all of the enquiries that come in out of hours, regardless of specialism.
And the team that I manage, that's the way that we are set up, is that whatever the problem, the social work problem or dilemma that comes in, it will come to one of my workers, and we will try to work our way around it, and think about what it is that we can do to help. You will find the contact details for your out of hours social team often on local council websites, or via calling their out of hours numbers, and they will actually often tell you, out of hours, what to do and who to-, to go through to. Now, in terms of our role, the clue is in the title. Emergency Duty Teams are there to deal with emergency situations that arise outside of normal working hours, and actually, a lot of what is done by people is at-, is around working with people themselves, working with organisations, but intervening where necessary to make a situation safe enough until the next working day. It's the difference between urgent and emergency, and sometimes I think that is one of the things that causes people stress and concern, that they reach out, and they don't get a response that they are-, they are hoping for. And I think that's why I try-, try to emphasise listening in terms of, 'Well, this is the role. The role is to focus on the emergencies.' In terms of the staffing that is likely to be available, certainly if you're in a small borough, like Islington, or a small council, there may be only one person on out of hours who deals with all of the emergencies coming in. Mental health, child protection, adult safeguarding, and anything between. So-, and calling ourselves a 'team' sometimes feels-, gives the impression that there's lots of different people around, whereas actually, there may only be one person.
However, the value of that is that one person is likely to be an experienced social worker who is very used to dealing with crises, and dealing with lots of different bits of information to try to help people find their way through the system. So, if-, in terms of getting the best out of a contact with the EDT, the first thing is actually about information. You'd be amazed, the number of contacts that we have where somebody forgets to tell us the name of the person, or forgets to give us some basic information. So, if you can do that, there's a-, chances are you will be ringing through to some sort of call centre who will take the details and pass it on to the duty social worker. That will help us. It's also helpful to know what the emergency is, why this is a situation that cannot wait until the next day, or whether there is information that you want to alert the day services to that has just come up. And also, be prepared to wait for a callback, because kick teams can be busy, and they will triage, and they will deal with the most urgent things first. I thought I'd actually try to think about some case example situations where I know my own team, or myself as a social worker, has had to guard with safeguarding issues. Now, one of the things to understand is that, because of the way we work, come on at five o'clock in the evening, work overnight, and then maybe that person won't be around again for another week, the chances are that the social workers are not going to be starting a full investigation, but what they are doing is taking those initial referrals, looking at all the information, and trying to deal with the initial problems. But also, trying to make sure that the information gets back into the right part of the system, so that people get the help they need during the day.
So, the sorts of things that I've dealt with are, on a phone call from a member of the public who's actually worried about somebody that they've met who's homeless on the street, and helping them get in touch with our local provider of emergency outreach housing, so there was-, they could actually get that person into an appropriate service, but also them feeding back to the day services, telling them why it's important to get involved, and what my concerns are about that situation. Thinking about a young woman with mental health problems who appeared to be living rough. Although we, as a team, don't case-hold, what we found ourselves doing, because we were so worried about this particular young woman, is we actually followed her up over two or three weeks, exchanging information within the team to try to make sure she didn't get lost, and that, ultimately, she was picked up and supported with her mental health. And then that enabled her to get more help in terms of her housing situation. And finally, thinking about an older gentlemen in his 80s, who'd come to this country thinking he could live with one of his sons, and was subsequently abandoned by that son at the benefits office. And I got a call about six in the evening by a police officer saying, 'I don't know what to do with this man, he doesn't know where his son is, he has no-, no contact details,' we went to go on to the flats, there's nobody there. And for that man, because of his care needs, I was able to accommodate him overnight until the data offices could come, do an assessment, and actually take that case forward. So, in terms of actually thinking about what to-, how to understand Emergency Duty Teams, and getting the best out of us, it's good to know that we're there.
We're experienced professional social workers, we're used to balancing risk, we're used to dealing with a number of cases, and we're used to thinking about how to keep people safe in the short-term. There may be an occasion where, actually, what you need to do, want to do, is call and talk to somebody to see what's possible, and to balance up-, think about what to do next. We can be a useful source of support and advice. Sadly, we still haven't found that magic wand that provides accommodation, but we know that, and will help you think about what is available, and what can be done now, as opposed to what needs to happen later. And that, actually, brings us into the final issue, which is actually, there can be situations where the Emergency Duty Team social workers are a good way of getting information into the right part of the system, because we have access, quite often, to a number of different databases, and sometimes there's been situations where I can see information about somebody from on the children's database and on the adult database and on the mental health database, and by bringing together those different bits of information, I can actually make sure that somebody who needs intervention, who needs safeguarding, gets what they need. Even if it's not during the time when I'm on duty, I can give the information to the right people in the right way so that they-, (inaudible 01.05.54) to what is needed. Now, that was a very brief introduction to my job in the EDT.
Moderator: Thanks, Claire. Thank you. Really helpful. And as a, kind of, cog in the system around information-sharing and trying to achieve the right outcomes for people. Michael, I'm gonna ask you to come off mute, and share some of the questions and direct them. I think it would be fair to say that there's been an overwhelmingly positive response to the contributions in the first half of the session today. I think people have been really moved and inspired by the voices of the colleagues with lived experience who've presented, and I'm really grateful to everybody this afternoon for having contributed. But, I'm going to hand over to you, because there was some quite specific issues in questions that came up, as well. And colleagues on the webinar, do continue to put questions in the Q and A, and we'll try and cover as much as we can in the time we've got left this afternoon. So, Michael, I'm handing over to you to try and direct the questions and comments.
Michael: Thank you, Adi. I-, yeah. I'd endorse your-, your opening remarks about the feedback from the first presentations. So, Carl, Thomas, Kinga, John, Jason, Corado, the kind of words that have been used are 'brilliant', 'inspiring', 'fantastic', 'outstanding', 'powerful', 'inspirational', and lots of respect coming-, coming through the Q and A for-, for your contributions, and-, and-, and the way you've captured, from your lived experience of homelessness, and indeed, your lived experience of working, also, in the sector subsequently. The way that you've captured crucial messages we all need to hear. So, Jason, I really liked your comment about not being an imposter. I think you and I have previously shared experiences about each of us having the imposter syndrome from time to time, and clearly, what you said resonated. And a number of people were really grateful that you spoke from your heart, as opposed to reading from a script. So, yeah. Really, really powerful. There are some questions, and-, and-, and I think what I'll do is-, is, I'll say what the question or the observation was, and then come, initially, Carl, to you, and then I'll-, I'll move across to those of you from Independent Futures in-, in Bristol. So, the first-, the first question, really, is, how did your support start? What, in-, in a sense, enabled you to begin to make the changes that led to the changes to-, to use Carl's phrase. So, how did the support start? What-, what-, what-, what worked for you? So-, so, Carl, insofar as you feel able to say, and willing to say, how did your support start? And what helped you to sustain the journey once you'd begun?
Carl: Yes, thanks, Michael. I think, my first kind of think that really stick in my mind, where my kind of journey really started to change was the day that I walked into Change Grow Live, and I had an intervention with somebody else that had lived experience. They-, they were a peer mentor, and I can remember that day that I-, I woke up that morning, and I felt suicidal. And I had an appointment, and I went into-, to Change Grow Live in Birmingham, and this guy come up to me in the reception area, and he just started talking to me normally. He offered me a cup of coffee, and what he did is, he asked me how I was feeling, he asked me what did I need, he didn't try to force any support onto me. But what he did is, he made me feel like he actually cared, and he made me feel human, that that was the other thing, you know. I didn't feel ignored, I felt like I had a voice, and that, really-, that day when I left Change Grow Live, and I was walking down the road, I remember thinking that something in me had change, and-, and I couldn't put my finger on what it was, but I just felt like, that guy understood where I was coming from, and he didn't treat me differently, and he didn't judge me, and I had that little tiny bit of hope inside me. So, that was really the starting point, for me, and then it progressed onto, you know, I felt more at ease to attend appointments, and open up slightly more about what my needs, and kind of, what I wanted to do, and what the issues were I was facing. And that was really the start of it. And I think just the continued support, and feeling like people were actually starting to listen to what I was saying over time, enabled me to start making the changes myself.
Because, really, that's what I needed to do. Support workers support me to make those changes. They don't do them for me, because when I was homeless, I felt like I didn't have a voice, I didn't have no power. So, they empowered me to make better decisions, and once I started to do that, that became my focus, and then I noticed that my life started to change for the better. The more that happened, the more I enjoyed living like that, and the further away the bad side of my life started to feel, and-, and now I am where I am, and I'm much happier, and I've got everything, really, in my life that I've ever wanted, and never imagined I would have when I was in that position.
Michael: Yeah. Okay. Thank you, Carl. Somebody's put in the chat that what you've described is the essence of making safeguarding personal. So-, so, thank you for that. John, Jason, Corado, Thomas, Kinga. Anything any of you want to contribute about what-, what-, what helped you to begin-, to begin the journey out of-, out of homelessness? I get the sense the hub was quite important, from the presentation, but maybe if any of you feel able to say what helped?
Tom: Well, for me, although I personally wasn't actually homeless, being involved in the homeless sector through chance, through this peer research project we did interviewing clients, was an eye-opener. And I've done more work in homelessness now in this last year, or you know, whatever, than I hardly ever did before. I did a bit of time at St Mungo's as a social worker, but not-, not much, or just part of training. So, just this whole thing has opened up my eyes, and seeing how that old cliché, 'necessity is the mother of invention', is so true. Because with the COVID-19 crisis, we have been able to address a lot of these issues head on in a way that, I think, even when Carl was homeless, could not possibly have imagined. It is possible. It just requires that bit of urgency, emergency, and appreciation. It is like a war effort. We've just got to make sure we sustain this. Easier said than done, but I think, yeah. We're not gonna satisfy everyone, not all the clients will be happy and yes, there will be a handful that will remain on the street for whatever reason. I won't go into the specifics but ultimately, we can make a significant difference housing people where there is turning space. And also, then the public know about this and educating the public, as I've been educated over the last twelve months, in this matter. It is not just a binary thing. It's much more complex. People will be surprisingly understanding.
Michael: Okay. Thanks, Thomas. John, or Jason, or Kinga, anything you want to add about what helps you to begin to make the journey?
John: For me it was just-, sorry, Jason.
Jason: No. Go on, John.
John: Just quick, I was going to say for myself, back in the day it was having somebody that actually paid attention and listened because I'd been to that organisation before to do the housing and had a problem which was really just not being heard. And then, when I did try to voice myself it took me the wrong way because of not understanding or lack of understanding. And, with my frustration. Anyway, to cut a long story short, I also used the hub to help me to progress in terms of showing empathy, listening. And actually, when I did actually speak with them it showed me-, they made me feel like they actually did care. It wasn't just an exercise, they showed me that they did care. So, they helped me to feel supported and move on and from that, I did progress and get housed and so forth. And I'm still there now. So, yes.
Michael: Okay. Thank you, John. Jason, did you want to add something? You're on mute, my friend.
Jason: Hi. The homeless part of my journey is not the beginning of the journey, to be honest. And we speak about multiple disadvantages and we speak about complex needs and, like Karl said in his testimony, the journey started from childhood, trauma and then that leads to decisions that leads to institutions that eventually led me to being homeless in Bristol. The thing that got me out of it, as much as they were great people, was I was resilient, you know? As much as I've been at the lowest, there was always something within myself that was still resilient enough to keep going and it's easy to paint a big picture about, you know, lived experience and we bring depth and emotion and we do, we do. But, that recognition needs to turn into an action which needs to turn into money which needs to turn into planning which needs to-, you know, as much as I'm lived experience and I describe myself, I don't describe myself as anything else. Anything else comes after the lived experience. I say, 'Lived experience, I'm a trustee, I'm a co-chair of the national approach on mental health framework.' So, it's about realising that some of these people that you know as professionals, and I'm assuming most people watching this are professionals. As much as you can make decisions to help people with really great intentions, if you do not have that depth on every level it's harder to get the message. It's harder to break the stigma's, it's harder to challenge unconscious bias. It's harder to challenge the fact that when most professionals leave work, they don't live in the places where they're trying to solve the problems for. I'm not saying everybody's got to move to those places but we need education. We need understanding. As-salamu alaykum, there's so many little hello's, hi's and that lived experience have to do through resilience to, kind of, fit into the system. It's about tying the system, kind of, fitted around the people. Wrap around the people and hold them. And place a value on that in your plans. You can't just call for lived experience just to create an emotional reaction. It has to have a monetary value that shows people that as much as you can get things wrong and bad things happen to you, you can be a success, just like Karl is. What an inspiration. And that is what I would like to move this on because we've been talking about this decades, this ain't a new issue. It really isn't and that's what I want to say.
Michael: Okay. No, that's brill. And actually, it leads-, it leads-, it leads into two other questions or observations that I picked up. One was how do-, how do professionals, how do practitioners, how do services, how, how might they better use the expertise and the experience that you bring? And, and then the second question was around how should we-, how should services better measure outcomes? People who-, commissioners who fund services expect, expect outcomes. What kind of outcomes should we be measuring? Or capturing if not measuring? So, how can we better use the expertise that you bring by virtue of your experiences? And, what outcomes matter that we should be capturing? Karl, if I go back to you first, any thought on either of those?
Karl: Oh, gosh. Yeah, they're quite difficult questions and quite, you know, broad questions. I think, you know, over the years that I've worked in this sector that I think lived experience has become more of an important thing and, and obviously, a lot of what Michael just spoke about, about, you know, using it to the best of its ability, really. All the way up the chain, not just, kind of, your outreach work or whatever it is but going all the way up within the organisation. I think it is used quite well, I know change where lived-, where I worked at, lived experience is a big part of what we do day to day. I think sometimes as well though that, you know, people that haven't got lived experience come from a different point of view which for some people also works because I've worked with people that actually don't want to work with somebody that's got lived experience for whatever their reasoning behind that is. And they would prefer not, not to do that. I think things like what we're doing today I think are absolutely brilliant and I-, and I think the more of these things, the more aware we can make people and the more, you know, people that have been through it are able to talk about it and get it out there. I think that's-, it's always a positive thing. And I think we really need to, you know, to look at the positive outcomes we have and actually, you know, use them and make sure that, that they're made available and they're recorded and, you know. The sense of the government, the recorded in statistics and figures and why it's worked and what things have been done. Again, if people are not aware of what's happening then they don’t know. So, we continuously need to keep making improvements to, to the way these things are looked at and, and new ways of working and, you know, what the things that are working well, we need to do more of. We need to move more towards that. For some people that I work with the fact when they know that you've been through it they are a lot more receptive to you as well. Some people are like that as well that will say, 'You probably know where I come-, where I'm coming from.' And I will say, 'I don't know exactly where you're coming from 'cause you're an individual and I'm an individual and we've probably had different experiences.' But there's common experiences as well and that's being homeless and the way probably that being homeless makes you feel as well. But I'm, I'm not the same as somebody else so they're gonna have slightly different feelings and experiences of their time being homeless. So, yeah. It's a lot of what Michael just said, you know, using it to the best advantage that we can, incorporate it on all levels. Recording the good outcomes and making sure that the people that, you know, give the money and give the funding and, you know, do the policy reform and make these, you know, decisions in government are aware of the things that, that are going good and those then, those decisions can be guided on that evidence rather than, kind of, blindly.
Michael: Okay. Thank you, Karl. John, Jason, Kinga, Thomas. I mean, clearly you've been working in independent futures, you're, you're, you're working together. What lessons should we take from that?
Thomas: I was just going back to, Michael or Professor Preston-Shoot.
Michael: No. Michael, please.
Michael: Drop the Professor.
Thomas: About outcomes. And I think it depends on sometimes the funding that's put forward. If budgets are slightly bigger, we can look at qualitative surveys, find the details, what clients did like or didn't like. Sorry, yes. Qualitative research and surveys. Quantitative, more briefer questions but level of surveys still have their uses as well. And I think it's getting client feedback, perhaps feedback from the public and evidence-based practice of how certain things have got better over a certain period than they were before. This was like this back in 2010 but by 2014 because we did this that and the other, it became that and that is better than this because of this, that and the other. I know it sounds very basic but I think evidence-based practice, feedback from primary sources and ideally, it would be good feedback, as to how you got value for money. I think it is. Depending on the detail.
Michael: Okay. Thank you.
Jason: Can I just add to that? Because we talk about data and we talk about evidence, we talk about collating information form so many different sources and I know of some, and I'm to gonna get on me own bandwagon here but there's evidence that prove a lot things. But yet, we're still not that far forward. So, there are fundamentals here, we're missing a trick here because we're talking as though we're talking about a set of this newly discovered race of people that are not connected to us. Do you know the testimonies that we did with the Sam Cooke, and I'm happy to share that, some of that, the reason why I got emotional because my Queen shared that first bit. And you know why? With her own voice. You know why? Because I wanted the audience which I will make an assumption, are predominantly white and privileged, to hear her voice because she comes from white and privileged. That's my Queen, we have a son. It's not about data, this is not about building ships, it's about human beings and us realising we, whether you're helping, whether you're supporting, whether you're intellectually working out how to solve this problem that we are all humans. And we need to understand each other, we need to stop holding on to power and, kind of, recognise it's not about that. This is about emotion, this is about breathing, feeling things. We've got data that backs up so much but yet we don't do anything about it. So, why is any more data-, there should be fundamentals that we know and then we just keep building on those fundamentals. One of them has to be EI, one of them has to be involving the people you're trying to help and the nearest you can get to someone in crisis or someone that has experienced that is someone that has got through it. So, maybe someone of lived experience. They have to be involved, steering, operational, just, let's just done with the lip service, data, it's emotions we're talking about here and we need to understand that we are all related. We really are. I mean, I don't know data sometimes gets it all (mw 01.29.25).
Michael: Yeah and what I'm hearing you saying, and it's echoed in some of the observations in the Q&A, Jason, is that actually, we know what good looks like here. We don't need to-, we don't need to find out what best practice looks like. We actually know about it already. I mean, for example, there are comments in the Q&A about dual diagnosis, people who have substance misuse issues and mental health issues and people saying, 'Why don't we have dual diagnosis workers? Why do we still have the vicious circle of it's not a mental health issue, it's a substance misuse issue. It's not a substance misuse issue, it's a mental health-, Why are we still going round in this circle?' We actually know what we need to be doing, we're just not doing it except that Covid has made, has actually shown, and you talked about it in, in the presentation from Independent Futures, Covid has actually shown what is possible when we actually draw on the evidence. So, yeah. People really responding to, to, to, to that message. And Adi, I hope you're also looking at the Q&A box 'cause I, I'm, I can't keep up with what every, what's-, yeah, yeah, yeah. You've got your thumbs up, that's good. That's, that’s good. There was something in the, the, the Q&A that I noticed too about the words we use and, and, and I think, Karl, was it you in your presentation or maybe it was in both presentations. That we actually need to, in a sense, translate the professional jargon we use. So, again, if I start with Karl and then come to Independent Futures. Karl, any thoughts about the words-, the words we use?
Karl: I mean, I'm, I'm guilty of it myself now in a professional capacity 'cause you pick up a lot of these-, of these different words. And then, they, kind of, become the normal but again, the way that you speak to somebody if they're not understanding what you're saying, say for the instance, the word of, you know, safeguarding. My, kind of, view of that was always a negative one. So, the minute a professional actually mentioned that word to me, I, I shut off from, from that. So, I suppose, you know, Michael touched on it in his thing as well where we talk about complex needs and all of these different words. Well, I guess it's going back to a lot of what we're talking about is people and their experience and, you know, there's things around substance misuse, do you call is misuse? You know, how you actually word stuff when you have interventions with people I think make a massive difference to what their, kind of, reaction back to you is because my experience, when I was on the streets, is I was so guarded already of professionals. So, when they used big words I didn't understand or those conversations became, you know, very, kind of, boxed off in, in, kind of, professional language, I, I shut off from them. Immediately my barriers were up, I didn't even wanna tell them to much information 'cause I was scared what they were gonna do with that information. And, and really, you know, as a person, then I was selling myself short in those interventions based upon what was being said to me, rather than actually the stuff that I needed to say and the stuff that I needed to, to unload. So, I suppose, again, with a lot of what we do, there's always room to look at what can we do differently? Are things gonna work better if we don't use negative language and we try to focus more, more on the positive stuff because that's what I wanna do as a worker. I want people to come out of the support session or coming out of the service and feeling more positive than what they did when they walked in through the door. I don't want them to walk out feeling worse. And one of those things is gonna be what you say to them. What I do, is I say, 'I've got an hour and a half, what do you wanna talk about? It's your hour and a half. I'm not gonna sit here and refer you to death or tick boxes. You need to talk, you talk, you know. It's your-, it's your session.' And let them speak and that tends to work pretty well, I think.
Michael: Yeah. Okay, great. Thanks, Karl. John, Jason, Kinga, any-, Thomas also.
Thomas: Put my hand up. I think a lot of it depends on the therapeutic relationship between the client and the service user. Sorry, between the client and the practitioner. Again, client, service user, depends which one you favour.
Michael: Yeah, even the use of the word client is loaded.
Thomas: Well, there you go. Patient, whathaveyou.
Michael: Yeah, yeah.
Thomas: I mean, it depends on-, it's subjective. People will have different views. It's the therapeutic input and, but from the beginning and building that trust. It may include a bit or jargon, it may not. But if that therapeutic relationship between clients and practitioner includes so many different things. Jargon is one little bit of it, there will be other factors about building that trust and understanding. And I don't think there's an absolute textbook for that because it will vary from individual to individual. I think overall it's about that building of trust. And a few-, and over time there may be a bit more jargon, maybe a bit less but so long as both sides understand where the other is coming from and can see results coming then I think, you know. It's just-, it's, it's understanding of communication. And then, the therapeutic relationship can move on from there.
Michael: Yeah. I wonder John, Jason or Kinga, whether you had any thought about, about language? For example, would you class yourself as experts by experience, is that a phrase that resonates for you?
Jason: I think sometimes jargon and, and different ways, it's changes so regular that it creates another, this is my personal perspective but I just thought of it, a protective shield that, from a lived experience perspective, is another barrier but from a professional perspective, it's another protective barrier. I, I don't totally get the answer to it, I really don't. But I get the need for it as well, so I'm not just going, 'Oh, everybody's got to change their language.' But, we find it hard to speak to people that are in our communities that come from another faith. Just say, good morning or goodbye, just those two little words. So, how the system navigates this problem without making it even more complicated because that's what normally happens, it just seems to get even more muddied. I don't-, I don't know but I think the answers are relatively simple. And relationships-, I just don’t understand why the, the association to our normal lives and the relationships we have with the people that we have about us on a daily basis, socialise with, go on holiday and meet by accident, why those skills are not-, they're almost separate. You become a professional and then it's a different type of relationship and I just think we lose the human part of it all. And that's why we lose people's understanding of what professionals do and, and we don't promote our good work. Professionals, I don't think promote enough what they do and that's where lived experience comes in because every time I learnt something, I passed that on to people who don't understand the system. Who don't understand the processes or the times and the different stages that have to be gone through to for, for, for the client to receive the support that they need. We need clarity, we need honesty, we don't need more obscuring, you know, different words and still not-, people still not getting clarity or not understanding.
Jason: And then that can't challenge stigma, can it?
Thomas: I think there needs to be varying power dynamics between the client and the practitioner. The reason is, I think you as a client, you go to a service on the whole because you want that service, you want what the practitioner can offer you. So, you accept to a degree, that slight change in power dynamics. Having said that, that-, the power dynamics doesn't have to be what defines the relationship or the service that's gonna be provided by the practitioner or for the client. It will-, I mean, so long as we can get from A to B successfully, how we got there doesn't matter so much as getting the end result.
Thomas: But, there are always gonna be-, yeah. It's different dynamics between the boss and someone who's more junior to the boss, you know. That is life.
Michael: Yeah. Right, okay. I'm gonna hand back to Adi in a moment, just to check whether there are things in the Q&A box that I haven't picked up in the last-, in the last five minutes or so. But just before I do that, Claire, not to leave you out of the Q&A session. I did pick up one, one question which was about the role of emergency duty teams in order to prevent homelessness when somebody might be being discharged from hospital.
Claire: Yes, thank you for that. Hang on, I'm just gonna get rid of-, right, yes. I'm not muted. This is a very familiar topic for us as being particularly challenging during the pandemic and what I say is the first thing is that practitioners need to really understand what has brought the person here and what they need. And also, to understand what they want because it's not unusual for someone to, sort of, say, 'Oh, we must help so and so,' but actually, nobody's talked to that person and find out what it is that they really feel that need and are happy to accept. So, that would be the first thing. And the second thing, which I think practitioners need to do, is be conscious about what is possible and what the different routes are to providing resource, particularly housing resources when somebody is in A&E so that you don't set people up to expect something which is just not going to happen because I just think that's unfair. You have to be realistic in terms of what you can offer and send-, be sending people in the right direction. And the last thing is actually being tenacious because sometimes you've just gotta keep on pressing it and be willing to advocate to the right people in the right part of the system about why they meet the criteria and should be helped. It isn't unusual, unfortunately, for some people with mental health problems to not get the help they're entitled to because the system, for whatever reason, is not recognising the additional needs that they have. And, I think that sometimes tenacity in having somebody like a social worker say, 'Actually, I know this person meets the criteria and this is why they meet the criteria and this is why you have a duty to house,' can be quite helpful. But, it's a-, it's an ongoing battle. It's been an issue for as long as I've been a social worker and that's sadly been quite a long time. Not sadly, actually, couldn't think of another career I'd rather have. But, I hope that's helpful.
Michael: Yeah. Thank you, Claire. Okay, Adi, back to you. I noticed that there was an observation in the Q&A that at least one person has struggled to find where the presentations and the recordings are on the LGA website.
Adi: My colleagues have put the link up-,
Adi: On the local.gov.uk/events/pastevents-presentation, so hopefully people can access that and indeed, somebody asked whether they could share the recordings and my answer is yes, yes, yes, yes and yes. On the basis of reinforcing what colleagues have already said about the importance, particularly I think of this session, in terms of getting the messages out there. 'Cause actually, in terms of that last bit of conversation about jargon and language, I think the same themes have come through again and again through these eight sessions and I'll come to that in a minute. But, hearing them describe today without jargon, in very simple straight-forward language from people with lived experience is probably the most powerful thing that anybody in any team can do with their colleagues. Actually, I would say regardless of how much contact they have with people who are homeless because I think the point that was made several times is it's about shifting attitudes, hearts and minds across the board as well as-, because we did have I think, a bit of a risk around safeguarding but safeguarding is seen as something quite specialist and unique and understood perhaps professionally, in quite a narrow way. Whereas, safeguarding more broadly, which I think has come through this session very strongly is everybody's business in the way that we would argue as a mantra again and again. So, I would really encourage people who are present today to use the recordings in their teams with their colleagues and that's one of the reasons we made a, kind of, condition of doing this work I think, Michael, that we would record it, not even realising how many people would turn up but wanting this to be a resource. So, creating a resource for people to use so it doesn't just stand for today but it's there to be used for colleagues in the future. So, please, please, please, please use this as a resource. So, I'm going to move on and try and find the final presentation that says, 'What are we going to do next?' Where's it gone? Here. And-, So, going-, this is just talking about where we've come from. The next steps for Michael and I, so this slide just captures the eight workshops that we've had since December through to today as the last workshop that have covered a whole range of issues that they would welcome a focus on and hopefully, they've been helpful to the people. The hundred and hundred of people who've actually dialled in. This slide tried to capture some of the cross-cutting things that have come through. So, we wanted to look at what Covid has done and I think it's brought huge challenges but also opportunities that we know what works, which is that wrap-around support. That car with all the four wheels that Karl talked about that helped somebody resolve the multiple issues that they have in their lives, helped them more forward. There's also huge amounts of helpful tools and resources that are available to support people and those have been described and explored during the series of webinars. It is a complex area when we come to look at the legal interfaces, the different statutory frameworks and we had some really helpful contributions to support what's called legal literacy. So, to support people understanding the law better and then supporting practice but I'd say that the law and the legal frameworks have been threaded through and been referred to at a number, number of times. Today, I think, the importance of relational working or relationships being how we help people and how we change and how we help other people to change has been a really common thing coming through. There's been quite a bit at different points in the eight seminars around how commissioning can help, changing the way people commission services. There's been some things about how people are looked after in terms of the workers who are doing this area of work and what support they might need. The theme of continuous learning from evidence and practice has been talked about today in a number of the presentations about me needing to learn continuously from people who we work with and from the evidence and from research. And the final point, which I think has been very large this afternoon, is the importance and the power of the voice of people with lived experience and how, as has been said this afternoon, that needs to inform change and drive change at all level. Not just at the front line in terms of individual people's change but strategically and policy as well as practice. Michael, did you want to add to any of the, kind of, cross-cutting themes we've got on here and before I go onto the next slide?
Michael: No. I don't think so, Adi. I think you've captured what we've identified so far and we'll no doubt do much more analysis as we prepare the second briefing for publication later in the year. So, no. Move on.
Adi: So, moving on to what you've just described. So, where are we going with this? This is the last of the eight webinars, the idea was that we would collect information through these webinars to update the first briefing to provide information on, as people have said today, we know what works. We-, Covid has helped and hindered, it's both been a positive and negative impact but we'll hopefully be able to describe some of that. And, in organising these webinars we've hopefully created some new resources both the slides that people have used from all the presentations but as I said, the recordings of all the webinars that are available. And this, in itself, creates resources for people to use and I'd really encourage people to use them. That's what we've done it for. My final comment really, is what else? And Michael, maybe you would put out a plea for further contributions to help with the briefing but anything else that people think might be useful, please let us know. I'm gonna hand over to you, Michael.
Michael: Yeah, absolutely, Adi. The more examples of positive practice that we have from, from people, the better. I shall be drafting the briefing end of March through April. So, if, if anyone still here today has got examples of positive practice they would like to see in the briefing could they please send them to me? Or to you, Adi. I think my email address is quite accessible on the University of Bedfordshire website and maybe in one or two other places too. So, yeah. Do let us have examples of positive practice, please.
Adi: Thank you. So, we'll continue to collect examples in the process of doing the final briefing. So, I just wanted to wrap up now and say thank you to all our speakers. Really fantastic session. Really, really inspirational and, and really powerful and hopefully will have an impact further than the people who were able to join us today. Thank you also to the LGA staff who've supported these webinars and you've-, the support staff have been really helpful including recording them. Thank you to Michael who has led on commissioning and organising and sorting out these sessions and the speakers, without whom this wouldn't have happened. As well as for the first briefing and drafting, the second one. Just a reminder that the presentations and briefings are on the LGA website. The one from today will be available by the end of the week. And that also, we're going to send you a short survey to ask you what you thought of today's event because we use this to inform how we plan future events. So, finally, great. Thanks to everybody who's joined us today, speakers, participants and those of you who put questions in. Apologies if we haven't answered them all. Thank you so much and stay safe out there. Good luck, best wishes and thank you all. Bye-bye.