BRIDGING THE GAP
A new intensive support model is helping clients with complex needs at a critical moment in their lives , says Mark Dronfield
At Turning Point we have a long history of successfully supporting people to grow , learn and make choices . In London we have been delivering substance misuse services , including support to those who are homeless or in the criminal justice system , for over fifty years .
Despite the best efforts of many , we always have a number of homeless , revolving-door service users who are too chaotic or complex to successfully engage
‘ I must have been in every hostel there is over the years and just always ended up back in prison . Starting Point Plus has given me the chance to go straight from prison to somewhere decent and to keep away from negative people . After years of getting nowhere I have now shown that I can do it .’
RAY , aged 44 with services immediately on release from prison or discharge from hospital . Despite the challenges , this isn ’ t a group we would ever give up on , so we designed Starting Point Plus , a 14-day programme of intensive assessment and support for the most complex individuals with the aim of stopping the revolving door . The service has been operating since 2018 in Westminster and Kensington and Chelsea , and since 2021 in Hammersmith and Fulham .
Starting Point Plus is a psychologically informed model that provides Turning Point service users with the opportunity to stabilise in preparation for mainstream or voluntary sector housing pathways . Something which , to date , has been beyond their reach .
It is a golden opportunity , but highly conditional on the client ’ s engagement with their recovery plan .
SUPPORTED TO SUCCEED It is critical for all concerned that anyone signing up to Starting Point Plus is in the best position to succeed . Our partnership approach to assessment is key as is the ongoing support of the local authority , police and probation ( where applicable ) so we ’ re all working with the service user towards the same goal .
The period of transition from prison , hospital and / or homelessness to the community poses a critical turning point in someone ’ s life . The stability provided by 14 days of safety and support acts as a springboard to longer-term engagement that otherwise wouldn ’ t exist .
Mark Dronfield is service manager for Turning Point Starting Point Plus
STARTING POINT PLUS SERVICE OUTLINE
REFERRALS Referrals are made to Starting Point Plus when someone is due to be released from prison or leave hospital and is identified as having complex needs and a housing requirement , is low-medium risk in offending terms , and genuinely committed to change and engaging with the service .
ELIGIBILITY Eligibility is supported by stringent risk assessments and made with partners including the council , the Integrated Offender Management ( IOM ) Team and probation officer where offending risk is an issue .
AGREEMENT Starting Point Plus is a voluntary scheme , so service users must sign an agreement to adhere to the conditions of the placement , understanding that the scheme will be withdrawn if they do not reach the engagement milestones . They agree that up to 14 nights of accommodation , typically from the private sector , will be provided on the basis that they follow their 14-day recovery plan put in place to address their immediate health and social needs .
CARE PLAN We take a strength-based approach to care planning , building on the period of comparative stability that they had in prison / hospital and the chance to do things differently going forward .
DAILY MEETINGS The recovery plan includes daily meetings with their Turning Point worker or peer mentor and focuses on tenancy skills , health and social care referrals , attending all required appointments with probation , police , housing , substance misuse treatment ( and testing if applicable ) and education , training and employment ( ETE ) appointments to ensure meaningful use of time . Key to our approach is fitness and exercise . For those who want it , recovery plans include gym / swim access and membership of the Turning Point Outward Bounds programme ‘ Park Fit ’ – a combination of outdoor exercise , organised walks and Outward Bound activities .
REVIEW There are formal reviews which determine whether someone continues on the scheme or leaves before the 14 days are up . Even if someone doesn ’ t complete the full two weeks , it is often the first time they have meaningfully engaged with services and hopefully bodes well for future support .
RESETTLEMENT For the vast majority who are successful , there is a clear resettlement plan , so once complete , the service user moves into more settled accommodation and Turning Point continues its support in the normal way .
10 • DRINK AND DRUGS NEWS • APRIL 2022 WWW . DRINKANDDRUGSNEWS . COM