DDN_March_2024 DDN March 2024 | Page 19



A street engagement hub is working wonders for people ’ s complex needs , says Jackie McVan

As we respond to an increasingly complex health and social care landscape , a renewed approach to partnership working can enable us to address people ’ s needs and make sure no one is left behind .

At Change Grow Live ’ s Manchester service , we are very aware of how complex and diverse these challenges can be . Our outreach team alone works with around 280 people at a time , including people with complex needs ranging from homelessness to mental and physical health issues .
That ’ s why we are proud to be a part of the city ’ s Street Engagement Hub , an innovative partnership based at local homelessness charity Mustard Tree . Together , the various organisations that make up the hub provide a one-stop-shop and gateway into support for anyone that needs it .
As the hub expands to offer vital support to people leaving prison , we look at how it is helping to meet people ’ s complex needs , challenge stigma , and empower more people to change their lives .
A NEW MODEL The people who access our services often face a multitude of challenges – drug use , neurodiversity , homelessness , poverty , abuse , as well as the stigma that comes with all of these .
The Street Engagement Hub is a multi-agency partnership
that brings together the organisations with the knowledge and specialities to address these challenges – from St John Ambulance and specialist NHS teams to local housing support agencies and adult social care .
Initially , the hub was aimed at providing support for people who were involved in street-begging and had come to the attention of the police . Instead of giving sanctions for this , a new approach was trialled where a person could attend the hub instead and receive a bespoke offer of care . As this has evolved , the Mustard Tree charity in Ancoats hosts the hub for two days every week on an ‘ open door ’ policy . It doesn ’ t matter if someone has found out about it from a flyer , if they ’ ve been referred by another agency , or if they ’ ve simply wandered in off the street – everyone is welcome to access some level of support !
By working together to support people in a holistic way , the hub partners can address the various factors that affect people ’ s lives , help them to gain a level of stability and security , and empower them to grow .
BREAKING DOWN BARRIERS Change Grow Live has been a permanent part of the hub ’ s team since its early days , providing people with support and guidance around drugs and alcohol .
The hub has played a crucial role in enabling us to deliver ‘ rapid treatment ’ – the aim of providing safe , fast access
to same-day prescribing and treatment options .
Once someone has completed their initial assessment , we can help them right away with things like testing for blood-borne viruses and harm reduction interventions including free naloxone kits and training .
If we ’ re able to secure a GP summary , and with other relevant tests completed , we can safely prescribe them medication that same day .
Within a single session at Mustard Tree we have conversations about people ’ s journeys and goals , provide harm reduction advice and tools , prescribe medication , and refer on to any of the other relevant agencies that they may benefit from during their time at the hub .
This streamlined approach has enabled us to support over 650 people at Mustard Tree since January 2023 , with interventions ranging from nursing appointments and testing for blood-borne viruses , to psychology appointments and support with employment .
The feedback we ’ ve had is that people like the ease of access offered by the hub . They like that everything is agreed at their first meeting , and that they don ’ t have to keep telling their story over and over again .
Now , we see people attending the hub at Mustard Tree not just because they ’ ve been advised to by the police to avoid a conviction , but also because they ’ ve heard about everything the hub has to
offer . On some days , we ’ ve seen people queuing out the door for an initial assessment !
NEXT STEPS Now , we ’ ve expanded our offer to include support for people leaving prison . Every Friday , people who have recently left prison can access the hub ’ s full range of support services in a single location . The hub can address the challenges people often face when leaving custody : a multitude of appointments across the city on a Friday , many with different opening hours , all while trying to reconnect with friends and loved ones .
By streamlining their reintegration into their community and helping them to overcome many of the barriers they might otherwise face , we can help to break the cycles of behaviour that prevent people from achieving positive change and empower them to grow .
The hub is a proactive example that health and social care providers are stronger when we work together . The organisations that make up the Street Engagement Hub have transformed the way we offer support and are creating new pathways to reach some of the most vulnerable and underserved people in our communities .
If you would like to find out more about how the Street Engagement Hub operates , we would be happy to hear from you . Please contact Jackie McVan at jackie . mcvan @ cgl . org . uk
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